Can we please come up with a nonterrible word for all of the ways that brains can be disabled?
Right now, there are several forms of brain disability: psychiatric disability, intellectual and developmental disability, learning disability, neurological disability, etc. Sometimes this works fine– I can talk about “psychiatric disability” when all I want to talk about is psychiatric disability. But a lot of times it doesn’t.
On a personal level, lots of people don’t know what category their disability falls into. If someone has ADD and depression, they might not know whether their inability to concentrate is a learning disability thing or a psychiatric disability thing. If someone is undiagnosed, they may not even know if they have an intellectual disability or a psychiatric disability. And a lot of times it’s possible to tell that someone has a brain-related disability, but difficult to tell what kind of disability they have.
On a wider level, a lot of our issues are similar issues. If I’m talking about forks, or forced institutionalization, or Ocular Delusional Disorder, that’s an issue that matters for people with all kinds of brain-related disabilities.
As far as I know, there are two words for all the brain disabilities, and both are unsatisfactory. First, there’s “neurodiversity.” “The neurodiversity movement” is a great phrase and I love it. But referring to someone as a “neurodiverse person” makes me feel like a PC asshole. “Neurodiverse person” is the kind of language used by people who call fat people “differently sized” and physically disabled people “handicapable.”
The other is “bad brains.” “Bad brains” is a wonderful word which comes from Tumblr. It has a lot of selling points: it’s really clear, it’s slangy, it doesn’t make you sound like a PC dickface, and it doesn’t have the ambiguity that “neurodiverse” has about whether people with very high IQs count. But if you use it in a serious blog post, it winds up bathetic. I do not want to write the sentence “today, another badbrains person was murdered just for being badbrains.”
So. Neurodiversity community. Shape up, find an umbrella term.