In “Rethinking Autism: From Social Awkwardness to Social Creativity”, Scott Barry Kaufman challenges the idea that individuals with autism are “failed versions of “normal.”” The author continues, explaining that teaching this concept of “normal” and how to conform to it is the basis of our current modes of treatment and education. Further, he discusses how new strategies are rejecting this idea, and that we shouldn’t try to change somebody to fit our expectations. We are all our own version of normal.
Normal does not inspire ingenuity or innovation. And rejecting somebody because they don’t meet our expectations of normal can create stagnation, and might result in some very important missed opportunities.
Below is a list of individuals who were penalized in one way or another because they chose to follow a path of non-conformity. These individuals are now considered icons, and masters of their fields:
1. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her evening news reporter job because she was too emotional.
2. Marilyn Monroe was not considered the modeling type, and modeling agencies recommended she try secretarial work.
3. In the 1840s, Ignaz Semmelweis was mocked for his ideas regarding sanitation and hygene, and for requiring his doctors and midwives to wash their hands before childbirth.
4. Stephen King’s first novel, “Carrie”, was rejected 30 times.
5. Monet was mocked by the artistic elite during his lifetime.
6. The Kansas City Star fired Walt Disney because they felt he had “no good ideas.”
When we require people to fit our idea of normal, we limit their ability to innovate and be thought leaders. But by throwing out the idea that normal is a standard that needs to be met, we inspire those around us to reach their potential, which benefits us all.