candid neurodiversity neurodiversity is a metaphor

Lip Reading

I read a story once, it may have been fiction or based on a true story. The story was about a boy diagnosed as intellectually disabled, with severe behavioural issues. When this boy was eight or ten years old it was discovered that he was profoundly deaf. Far from being intellectually disabled he was gifted enough that he’d taught himself to speak and lip read well enough that nobody had suspected that he couldn’t hear.

And as for the boy? “I just thought that everyone else was better at lip reading than I was.”

I think about this story a lot.

In 2012 I moved to Sydney from Melbourne. My husband is a naval officer, I worked from home. So I put a fair bit of effort into socialising myself. I joined an acting class.

I love small talk. I love meeting people. Put me in a room full of people who don’t know each other and don’t know what they’re doing and I am absolutely in my element. I thrive. I make people feel welcome and comfortable. I make people laugh and relax. And the next week people remember me and smile when they see me.

And as each week goes by and everyone else becomes more comfortable and secure… I feel more unsure and awkward.

A month later the same people will all be friends with each other. But not with me. And I overhear them talking about a nightclub they’d been to together and I wonder why nobody invited me.

But when I joined that acting class I noticed something. I noticed that they remembered things about each other and they swapped phone numbers and texted and met up with each other outside of class and went to bars together.

And I knew that I was more than capable of doing all of those things. I could if I wanted to. But also I really didn’t want to. I didn’t actually care about any of those people enough to want to think about them outside of class. I definitely didn’t want to go to a bar or a nightclub.

I can’t help but think that other people are a lot better at lip reading than I am.

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