What is normal?
Friday 26 February 2016

Lego PeopleConforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. (Of a person) free from physical or mental disorder (Oxford English Dictionary)

These definitions are great but they don’t really cut it for me. My 'normal' is no doubt very different to yours. Is my 'normal' routine the same as yours? I doubt it. What is 'standard' these days? I live in London, an incredibly vibrant and diverse city, everything goes on here, like most capital cities on this planet!

So what is normal?

My work with Brandon Trust means that I meet and support many people who don’t fit the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition as many of these people would be categorised or labelled as not being 'usual' or 'free from a physical or mental disorder'. Don’t you just hate labelling?

I don’t have a learning disability, nor do I have autism. I’m 'normal' enough, but then aren’t we all? Saying that, I have experienced difficulties with eye contact, facial expression, body language, and gestures. I’ve also ignored familiar people, not because I was wishing to be rude, but because I wasn’t feeling too great that day - all classic traits of someone with autism.

I’m also a stickler for routine. I get up at much the same time each day, I have my routines around the house, the way I like things to be done. I double-check that the lights or oven are turned off before leaving the house and I hate it when someone or something interrupts my routine.

If we look closely at our behaviours we aren't really any different from the people we support, with or without a formal diagnosis or label. Some of our behaviours actually stay with us for a long time. Could our perspective today then be slightly different towards people whom we may have seen as being different, not being 'normal'? Perhaps a different perspective would form the attributes of empathy and understanding of their needs, which would then change our approach to the way we see others, and the way we treat others.

So, what is normal? For me, I conclude that normal is simply being. Normal is being who I am, how I feel and act each day, how I like to live my life. Normal is me, normal is you. Normal is whatever you want it to be.

Ike Onwukwe
Locality Manager