Stories from the brainreels guest: Michael Miller
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I rarely have non-disabled guests on my podcast, and it takes a lot for me to want to have a non-disabled person on to talk specifically about disability. I’ve had a couple of TBI lawyers on because the importance of lawyers who specialize in serving brain injury community can’t be overstated. (I say that as someone with direct experience with a lawyer who didn’t get the TBI is a real thing memo.) So they’re a rare breed, and a very important one. But in general, talking disability with non-disabled people isn’t my past time of choice. It’s too easy to talk about impairments and rehab and inspiration, getting so personal that we lose our grip on all of the other parts around disability that need to be talked about, like race and ethnicity, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, violence, and so forth. So I leave those conversations to happen in other places. But Michael Miller is someone I really wanted to bring onto the show because he loves to focus on the social construction of disability and ableism, the role of disability justice in other social justice movements, and cute dogs. Michael does have a relationship to disability through personal and work experiences, as well as his new life as a disability studies student. And his two dogs are very cute even though they’re not cats.
In this episode we talk about neuroplasticity, but not in the way people usually do. We criticize the way that people toss the word and the concept around. Neuroplasticity–the brain’s ability to change itself through your life experiences–gets a lot of pop culture airtime, and I’m not sure it should get so much. Do crossword puzzles daily to ward off Alzheimer’s! Do worksheets in TBI rehab to relearn life skills! It’s not so easy, not so quick, and not so cure-all. It’s also usually missing discussions of how to make it culturally appropriate for all types of people when we’re teaching people things and banking on neuroplasticity. So we start to try to talk about those things. I hope you enjoy it.