Developmental differences divide

My brother has social disabilities, does this make him different?

Social disabilities might make it hard to read facial expressions like these.

Creative Commons

Social disabilities might make it hard to read facial expressions like these.

I guess before I start, I should give background on Gray. Gray is my older brother, a video-game lover, graphic-novel enthusiast, and one-half of a pair of twins.  His birthday is in March, even though it was supposed to be in June. Officially, my twin brothers were 13 weeks early. As you might think, this isn’t normal. It came with many complications. Those of which I could talk about for hours, but we don’t have that kind of time. This resulted in Gray developing pragmatic social communication disorder, which is a fancy way of saying that he has a hard time reading social cues. Whether that be verbal or nonverbal it’s difficult for him to understand. 

“I get taken advantage of a lot.”

— Gray Christians '22

Take sarcasm for example. It’s the deadpan voice paired with the facial expressions, but Gray just thinks it is a regular conversation — which separates him from his classmates and peers. 

Differences are what cause challenges for Gray. Fake friends, insulting Instagram pages, and even fake dance proposals — Gray has seen it all. When asked about the insulting Instagram page Gray Christians ´22 responds, “I’ve been wanting to find the person for a while.” Still unsure of who created this page, Gray has continued enjoying school and his peers around him. 

What I don’t get is the cause. Out of all the people Gray interacts with in a day, only a select few choose to be nice to him. Sure, he may have a hard time filtering his thoughts, but he’s a good kid. Attending high school for four years makes a big impact on students, especially if it is negative, so why would anyone want to add to that negativity?

Many people believe that treating those with disabilities the same will help them feel included, but this adds even more pressure on them. “I get taken advantage of a lot,” said Christians ´22. When someone doesn’t understand social cues it can be easy to make them their entertainment. Having them do certain things that you wouldn’t do, just because they don’t find it wrong.  Treating kids with disabilities differently doesn’t have to be negative. Most of the time it can be hard for kids with disabilities to learn in an average classroom. Accommodating their needs makes it easier for them to understand and comprehend the material. Whether that be surrounded by like-minded students or their entire class, disabled individuals may need a little extra slack.

I’ve interacted with people who have disabilities like my brother, some disabilities more severe than others. Sometimes they won’t even know what they are doing is outside the societal norms. How are they supposed to follow the rules, without even knowing what the rules are? No matter the situation, I treat them with kindness. Because I know the struggles and challenges they and their family have had to face to get where they are. Just a little bit of kindness could make a world of a difference.