Saturday, August 31, 2013

In this activity, in this place, I am not disabled-cross post from Radical Neurodivergence Speaking

I'm going to get a bit social model on you folks today.

I used to do gymnastics, and I dance. I participate in 4 kinds of dance and am therefore dancing 5 days a week. This isn't something I did when I was young, I'm not particularly musical, so what draws me to it?

This is something I've had to think about a lot with the access issues and intentionally harmful lying about access of the Portland swing dance/lindy hop community in particular. And, not only that, but sometimes dancing hurts. Belly dance class makes my old gymnast knees hurt. I've got bruises in new, exciting places from modern. Ballet makes me hurt everywhere. And if my back, knee, or ankle doesn't already hurt come Saturday night? Well, that's what swing dance is for, right? But I cannot give it up.

Part of that may be this:

When I am dancing, I am not disabled.

I am still Autistic when I am dancing, possibly at my most Autistic-sometimes I am a being of pure joy and sensation while I dance-this is what gymnastics did for me, & that is what I am trying to recapture, I think. I still have epilepsy and my other various cooties. Not a single thing within me changed. My neurology is the same. My physicality is the same. I am the same.

All that changed is my environment, and the expectations it has for me. The expectation is that I can move with the music in a specific way. I can move with the music in those specific ways, and I can do it at an average or better proficiency. When the language is movement, when the social cues are the leading and following of the whole body rather than of subtleties, I am on even footing. I may not exactly shine, but I am also not struggling, not having to run everything through translators and emulators.

In the environment of pure movement, I am not Other. And I love and accept and embrace my Autistic self with my whole heart and soul, but it is restful to be Same for a couple hours. It is restful to have a place where things are easy, where I am seen as equal, as like, as same without fighting for it.

Because in that place with the mirrors and the hardwood floors, I am not disabled. I am just another dancer.

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