Today on Facebook, I got called a “moron” and asked “are you mentally disabled?”
The fact that these comments were made after I pointed out that both sodium and chloride are corrosive but table salt is not, or the fact that they were made after the commenter doubled down on the assertion that mercury and thimerosal are the same substance, is irrelevant. Here’s what’s relevant:
Yes, I actually am “mentally disabled.”
If you haven’t been following along with my other blog, here’s the update: I’m autistic. Autism is classified in medical circles as a pervasive developmental disability. It’s also believed to overlap significantly with intellectual disability.
As a kid (and as an adult), I never met any standardized test whose ass I couldn’t kick on two hours of sleep and no breakfast. If I have a savant power, it’s beating standardized tests. This includes standardized tests of “intelligence.” I was a member of Mensa for exactly one year, until the backlash on their early 2005 magazine piece on Mensans with tattoos showed me that doing well on IQ tests is no protection against rank bigotry.
And yet. My childhood was full of peers, teachers, counselors, and other people telling me I was mentally deficient. That I was “slow.” That I was “retarded.” If my childhood had a title, that title would be If You’re So Smart, How Are You So Dumb?: OMG, Shut Up Retard.
“Retarded” is still a word that punches me in the gut. Even now, thirty years later, it’s still a word that gets leveled at me in public, too. I have been asked, by complete strangers my age or older in public, if I am “some kind of retard.”
The only answer to that, of course, is yes. I am some kind of retard. I’m an autistic kind, specifically. Whatever it is people mean when they ask, derisively, if I am “retarded” or “mentally disabled”? Yes, I’m that. My IQ scores are as relevant as the fact that sodium chloride is inert.
I can be utterly correct in my facts, against someone who is utterly wrong in theirs, and it doesn’t matter. I’m a retard. Hi.