Abnormal and Dysfunctional are two words that really should be stricken from our vocabulary.
We should really think of the states or conditions as rather: “other normal” and “differently functional“. To assume something other than your own abilities is somehow inferior or wrong is placing yourself on a very tall pedestal reserved for deities or megalomaniac demigods.
What is normal for you is definitely not normal for another. Conversely, what’s normal for another is not “abnormal” but simply their normal.
Dysfunctions are the same way. Just because something or someone does not function just like you – Wow! We’re all different; what a concept! – it does not mean there is anything wrong with their function. Observing and learning about a different method of functioning is usually very instructive.
Well, except to those who already know everything, I suppose. And I’m not naming any names here… or pointing any fingers…
If one were going to get extremely specific, anyone that does not do things the way you do, approach the world in the same manner, could be classified by the current term abnormal. Anyone who cannot do what we do would be termed dysfunctional.
And such would not be too drastic if the speaker were a typical Joe from Kokomo character but if the speaker was someone on the order of Einstein or Leonardo Da Vinci, the meaning becomes a little extreme.
In the artistic schools of Da Vinci and Tintoretto, the art of Picasso would have been viewed as abnormal and the fellow would have been carted off to the nut house.
Abnormal and dysfunctional should not be viewed as something necessarily bad but rather something we can learn from. If these people can accomplish everyday tasks but in a fashion we do not normally see, shouldn’t we be able to increase our own abilities by learning from their accomplishments?
Rather than marginalize or institutionalize these people, give them a chance to improve their conditions with what they have, in their own way. And then we can better our own conditions by learning from their victories.
I believe that is what the prehistoric ancients did. They did not question the “gift” from God, they tried to understanding the meaning of the gift and how it could be used to better the strengths of the tribe, because that was what all gifts were for.
We need to stop pushing these “gifts” into the closet or abandoning them along the side of life’s highway. Learning what they can give to the whole of us is what the process should be about.
Imagine where that knowledge might take us.