[Posted on 11 April, 2017 by Christopher Gillberg]
I have a problem with the terms “normal people” and “typical development”. Normality suggests that “everything is normal” (i.e. corresponding to being within a wide or narrow range of scores or features for everything that you can possibly think of to measure, such as attention, sociability, impulsivity, empathy, intelligence, motor skills etc.). Typicality presupposes that there is such a thing as typical development. Is there? I cannot remember ever coming across a completely normal or typical child (or adult for that matter). If a child has a problem that we refer to as ADHD (or autism or Tourette’s or dyslexia or language delay), does that make them “abnormal”? Does a child with pneumonia or otitis media qualify as abnormal? Surely not, but shouldn’t this be equally the case for an individual with a neurodevelopmental problem? All people have problems, and it varies enormously from one individual to another what those problems are. We are people with problems, infections, allergies, heart conditions, high blood pressure, skin problems, diabetes, ADHD, autism and other ESSENCE. Are we normal? Or typical? Maybe not, but if so we are all abnormal and atypical together.
So here’s to the motto that hangs out on the wall in the GNC corridor: NORMAL IS WAY OVERRATED! And here is to recognition and diagnosis of problems and the deconstruction of normal and typical!