On Harry Potter, Disability in the Wizarding World, and the House I Would Be Sorted Into

Ask any Harry Potter fan what house they would be in, and the answer, in my experience, is usually Gryffindor.  Occasionally Ravenclaw, but let’s face it; Gryffindor is the Harvard of Hogwarts houses.  It is where everyone wants to be.  It is full of attractive, talented people who break the rules but still turn out okay.  It is the house of the Boy Who Lived, for goodness sakes.

My favorite Harry Potter meme, quite possibly ever, is this one:

I cannot figure out how to insert a link.  I have been trying for a while and just can’t.  Anyway, the image is at : http://imgur.com/gallery/I2mrdVC and really is quite worth checking out.  Because it’s hilarious.  It is a picture of a knife that emits heat so it toasts bread as it slices it.  The quote below read:

Imagine stabbing someone with this knife.

It would instantly cauterize the would, so the person wouldn’t bleed, so it’s not very useful.

if you want information it is

and above, in order, we see a gryffindor, a ravenclaw, and a slytherin

why would you stab a PERSON when you can have TOAST?

There’s the hufflepuff

It was that meme that convinced me, once and for all, that much as I aspire to be a Ravenclaw, at heart, deep down inside, I am……a Hufflepuff.

See, I have all these ideas about Hogwarts which have been floating around in my brain for so long that they’ve basically become canon to me.  And so when I think of the Houses, I think of this:

Slytherin is for the future politicians, for abused kids, for kids who need more rules and reining in than others.  Snape (who never died in my Head Canon and is a Very Good Guy) supports these kids by providing structure and setting limits.  He doesn’t miss a single thing that goes on in his House, and he cultivates independence because he knows that the world is a hard, cruel place and kids had better toughen up or they won’t survive.  Slytherin is for people who enjoy being sneaky and manipulating people, and who are very good liars.  They are not necessarily evil.  Both Holmes brothers would be in Slytherin.

Ravenclaw is, let’s be honest here, a bit snobby, (but not nearly as snobby as Gryffindor.)  Ravenclaws are incredibly smart, love standardized tests, and usually go on to University when Hogwarts is done.  In their spare time, Ravenclaws take A-levels and other British tests so that they have transcripts in both the Muggle and magical world.  Their head of house doesn’t need to do much, because Ravenclaws are so smart they don’t need much help in any department.

Gryffindors, like many Harvardians I’ve known, know exactly how special they are and would rather that you not forget it.  They are great Quidditch players because they lack a certain sense of self-preservation and thus, are really not afraid of bodily injuries.  They spend more time in the infirmary than any other House.  Minerva McGonagall dotes on them, and her doting leads her to believe that they can basically take care of themselves, which as we all know is not true at all.  Gryffindors are natural leaders and are always on the side of Light.  They will never stand by when injustice is being done.

Hufflepuffs are a close-knit bunch, and many of them are kids that never thought they would go to Hogwarts at all because, well, everyone knows that Hufflepuffs are the special-ed kids.  Right? As the song says, they take ‘the rest’, and that includes kids with learning disabilities, autism, mental health problems, physical disabilities – not all of them, of course, and not every disabled kid*, but the vast majority of kids with disabilities will end up in Hufflepuff.   In this House, everyone is accepted and everyone is valued, and everyone is seen as needing help now and then.  Sprout is a very caring Head of House, and she sees to it that the older kids mentor the younger ones much as Snape does.

I don’t know why I feel like I shouldn’t want to be a Hufflepuff – they are, after all, so very kind to each other.  Perhaps because they know that the rest of the houses think of them as stupid, they are fiercely loyal.  They also have the sense of self that Gryffindors lack, and they they truly enjoy creature comforts such as hot food and soft beds.  They are, in both habits and personality, a bit like hobbits, except that most prefer baked goods to mushrooms.

Hufflepuffs, like autistics, have little to no guile. They are, contrary to popular belief, not idiots, but they get good grades because they work hard, not because it is in their natural inclination to be scholastic (though certainly, some of them are).  Gryffindors can get away with not taking a single note all term, Hufflepuffs can’t and so they don’t.  Like Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs are often natural klutzes, but when they land in the infirmary, it is by accident, and they are very apologetic about it.

I think that Hufflepuffs have a lot in common with me, and with autistics in general.  They are often quiet, and humble to the point of being self-deprecating.  (Although in this younger generation of autistics, some are being raised with enough self-confidence to land them in Gryffindor or Ravenclaw.)  They get overlooked and are afraid to speak up. They are workers, and they will go on working until the very end, not because they are out for glamor or glory but simply because it is the right thing to do.

The wizarding world, as I am sure you have noticed, does not treat those with disabilities that well at all.  If they cannot cure something by magical means, they tend to ignore it – see the whole ward of St. Mungo’s which is institutionalization at its best, warehousing at worst.  Remus Lupin could certainly have benefited from some anti-disability laws, but instead he is left poor and destitute. ^  I think that if one had a physical disability, one would find the magical world to be a much better place, if only because they can make flying or floating wheelchairs and other accessibility accommodations are easily accomplished by the flick of a wand.  But having any type of developmental or learning disability would be much, much harder.

I also think that as the years go by, you see fewer and fewer autistics attending Hogwarts, despite the rise in numbers.  This is for two reasons.   One, early-intervention therapy and ABA.  ABA, when used excessively and wrongly to correct a child’s natural inclinations towards autism, does indeed teach the child to be ‘normal’, at least on the outside, but to do so it takes the child’s magical core and pulverizes it.  This results in the child being a Squib, at best, and being totally unaware of the magical world if they are muggle-born.  The second reason is that modern electronics simply do not work at Hogwarts, and since the magical world is quite a bit behind the times in terms of disability, they do not have any good substitutes yet for Dynavoxes, ipads, and such.  Also, autistic kids tend to be immature for their age, and many are simply not ready for boarding school at the age of 11.  I, personally, hope that the wizarding world can catch up, but I know it may take another thirty or forty years.

Of course – this is all facetious.  This entire essay is based on a fantasy.  But it is such a very nice fantasy, and even though I do not think Rowling’s writing cannot hold a candle (or be compared to) truly great writers like Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) or Philip Pullman, she is one of the best storytellers I have ever come across.  She has created a world so vast and complex that I will never, ever tire of it.

I admit – sometimes, I wish that world were real, only because I think that it would be a heck of a lot easier to deal with certain disabilities in her world.  Take epilepsy.  Kids wouldn’t have to worry about falling down during seizures because you could just cast a permanent cushioning charm all around them!  Any bodily fluids would be cleaned up with a quick flick of the wand.  If you were out in public, you could throw up a conjured privacy screen, and spell diastat directly into the person’s stomach.  (Tell me that isn’t an awesome idea!)  Disability isn’t, after all, a tragedy, but rather a long series of inconveniences large and small that – swish, flick! – it can be so hard to deal with.

In the meantime, I’m not even British, so why am I talking about going to Hogwarts anyway?   The premiere magical school of North America is within a day’s drive of my house, after all.  Why am I talking about it – why am I thinking about it? One reason, one reason only.  It’s fun.  It’s enjoyable.  And these days, anything that gives me the slightest bit of joy is something I am going to keep doing.

*Neville Longbottom is an obvious example of this.  He has, at the very least, a non-verbal learning disability and yet somehow ended up in Gryffindor when he would have been much happier in Hufflepuff.

^Also in my Head Canon, Remus Lupin is alive, not involved with Tonks, is quite possibly gay and involved with Severus Snape.

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