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Probably the most difficult decision anyone with a developmental disorder can make is who to tell and how. I certainly do not have a good answer for either question, since I resist the labels experts have offered.

There are benefits to disclosure, based on the experiences of others. First, you have "official" recognition, which includes various protections legally. If I have a problem related to my physical limitations, it helps to have some legal basis when seeking corrective measures. Second, the reality in my field (education) is that a disability can be an asset, increasing your value to a university.

The obvious negatives to disclosure relate to the biases and even fears people have regarding neurological conditions. Most of us know that a palsy is not contagious. Tremors do not spread from me to my students or classmates. My long list of behavioral glitches are also not going to spread throughout the classroom. Yet there are those who cannot deal with difference.

Obviously, as a writer, students, and teacher I cannot hide from the world. In the past, I chose to avoid disclosures because I felt there weren't any problems. I recognize now that there are clear issues with my interpersonal skills. My personality quirks have never been hidden from others; I simply didn't notice that I annoyed other people much of the time.

When you decide you have to make peace with who you are, disclosure can become a part of the process. Honestly, I would rather slink away from human contact most of the time, but that's not a realistic approach to living. It seems easier to at least explain some of my differences and hope for tolerance.


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