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Writing This Ability: Parables and True Stories

We use the expression scattered skills a lot of the time when talking about disability, and I have come to embrace that idea. Some people are good at math. I am not. I have a good spatial sense. Others do not. I have begun to think about this spectrum of human skills, all the way from Kim Peek to the dullness we call normality as the true range of human ability. In our technological future we will perhaps ameliorate this somewhat with electronic fixes, but in the meantime we are left with the delightful variation that is humanity, the confines of our biology and the cultural attempts to constrain our minds.

The stories in this collection represent more than just tear-jerking accounts of overcoming adversity, although I've told a few of those too. I'm more interested in exploring the potential of what we consider to be dis and ability through characters who are constrained by circumstance and societal expectation even as they fight against those limits.

Rather than use this description to label these characters further, I would say instead that the reach of the human intellect, the intransigence of human dignity, the rough multiplicity of circumstances with which we are confronted, are no match for the fortitude and insight of the one who wants to escape.

No hardened criminal fought harder to carve a prison wall than someone trapped by a story about their abilities and no escapee on a welcoming shore felt more a sense of achievement than one whose diagnosis was stretched and then broken.

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