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February 21, 2017

Self-advocacy, how to fight against discrimination

Greetings, dear readers! Here is the last article which could be placed into a certain complex of blog posts. It basically follows two previous articles called Neurodiversity and Neurodiversity paradigm. We’re going to focus on how to use the neurodiversity paradigm for our own purpose, in this, let’s say 3rd part of this complex. We’re also going to discuss how to defend ourselves against discrimination or how to eliminate discrimination in general.

If you’re unfamiliar with terms like neurodiversity or neurodiversity paradigm, then definitely check my previous articles where all these term are described and explained. Then come back.

We all have certainly bumped into some kind of discrimination during our lifetime. It doesn’t matter whether we’re aware of it or not. It’s unfortunately very widespread phenomena.
 People judge themselves for banalities such as the country of our origin or the color of our skin. It can be greatly seen in people’s reactions when we ask them about migration crisis. The response, at least here, in the Czech Republic, is mostly xenophobic and full of hate. It’s also common to experience discrimination on the bases of sex. If you are perhaps a male and you wish to become a nurse one day, people will at least incredulously stare at you. You’ll have troubles finding job because a female with the same qualities will be more likely employed than you. Our rights can be denied also based on our age. When, for example, a young guy argues that school system isn’t as good as it should be and fights against that system actively, his opinion isn’t taken so seriously because, of course, he’s just a kid, isn’t he?

However, we are here today to discuss discrimination towards neurodivergent people. How to defend ourselves? What to do? Let’s introduce an example. There’s a man who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized due to that condition. He can go back home from hospital after some time and try to live a new life. This person suddenly realizes how problematic it is to find a job, with diagnosed schizophrenia. And if he finds one, it’s usually an „inferior“ work, of course if  it’s possible to call some kind of work as inferior. The colleagues don’t trust this person, they still have a picture of an insane man with a knife in the hand stuck in their minds. Then our man may have another mental breakdown and end up in mental hospital again because of those negative and deprecatory reactions from his surroundings. How to get out of this situation?
In my opinion, the most important thing is explaining, explaining and explaining, If you are for example autistic, just like me, let’s talk about our autism openly. Don’t be ashamed of your diagnosis! Being ashamed of our mental health issues is like to be ashamed of having a broken arm or cancer. Try to show people around us our unique world, our misery and joy, just and simply prove that we belong to the humankind as well as them.

Let’s also always talk about neurodiversity, explain people around what does the neurodiversity paradigm means and share this message of equality among folks.

If that above mentioned fictive man described his schizophrenia in details to his potential employers, they may be a bit more friendly and open-minded, and his colleagues as well. Or they might at least think about all that stuff for a certain time.

If explaining isn’t successful, then try to show people that we behave fundamentally just like them, in all aspects of our lives, which are important. Let’s actively make friends, initiate conversations, join groups of people, even though it might be very very difficult on the beginning. However, may be the best way to prove to the same individuals that we’re just simple human beings just like them.

If nothing mentioned above really works for you and you’re still discriminated against by your surroundings, than think about whether it’s good to socialize with that kind of people, that you have socialized with until now. If you come to the conclusion that the answer is no, just find a better group of people. There’re more than 7 billion people on this Earth, so there’s a very high chance that we will bump into somebody, who would like us, the way we are, and who wouldn’t hurt as in any way.

If we also want to fight against discrimination of neurodivergent people more globally, don’t be afraid of blogging, making YouTube videos or lectures for people…just and simply increase awareness of mental disorders and any possible related conditions. We can also share the message of neurodiversity paradigm, the message of equality, during our public speaking.

I wish you good luck in the fight against discrimination! If more of us will fight, our strength will be much bigger. Let’s become self-advocates!

Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your opinion? Leave us a comment bellow. We are glad to read all of your comments and messages and answer them. We are here for you!

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