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Thumbnail image is of Lyric, a pale skinned nonbinary human, with short green hair and shaved sides and gasses (in need of a haircut). They are sitting in an above the cab RV loft. In front of them the words NeuroTypical is NOT the Default in pale blue and teal green text.
Hey humans Lyric here, and there’s something that really bothers me with how even I talk about autism and the NeuroDivergent experience…. and that is how we always seem to use NeuroTypical people as the baseline for human existence. If you are at all curious and want to learn more, please do stay tuned.
First of all, I want to say, I think most of us do this when we’re talking about autism and NeuroDiversity. I do this when talking about autism and NeuroDiversity. Because… how else do we talk about the way NeuroDivergent experiences differ from NeuroTypical experiences, other than comparing and contrasting the two?
However, every time I do it, I find myself really frustrated with the fact that NeuroTypical seems to be the baseline, or the expectation of what we all strive to when we do this.
The fact is we are a NeuroMinority, living in a society that is dominated by the NeuroMajority – NeuroTypical people… but typical is extremely relative. Strengths and weaknesses are relative, depending on your brain and the particular set up of your skills and weaknesses that each and every single individual person has.
To quote, I believe it’s an Adams family quote, “what is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly” and to use another popular metaphor I really like: you wouldn’t think a dog is less valuable or a broken dog if it could not breathe under water, just like you wouldn’t be upset with a fish if it struggled to climb a tree or bark. We’re comparing apples to oranges here.
These are two very different things and NeuroDivergent people and NeuroTypical people are two very different things…. however, we still seem to compare and contrast them as if they are both exactly the same.
Unfortunately there’s a big problem that can come from this, because when you are constantly comparing NeuroDivergent People to NeuroTypical People, you are setting them up for failure, because you are, by default, holding us to NeuroTypical expectations.
For example, when we talk about sensory issues, We say that NeuroDivergent people can have extreme sensory profiles, extreme sensory sensitivities, or lack of sensory awareness when compared to NeuroTypical People, as if NeuroTypicals are the baseline.
The reality is the human sensory spectrum is much more broad, and people’s senses can range, depending on their brain, and their NeuroType, and a lot of other factors.
NeuroDivergent People already have enough pressure from neuro- NeuroTypical society to conform and blend in. We are, from a very young age, held to NeuroTypical standards, and we’re set up for failure because a lot of us are unable to hold ourselves to those standards without help or support.
When people expect us to be NeuroTypical, often they expect us to be able to do this without support because “No one around you is asking for help. Why do you need help to do something that everyone else can do?”
I’m not NeuroTypical. I know that now, but I did not know that for the first 29 years of my life, and not knowing that my brain worked differently and having those NeuroTypical expectations put on me throughout my whole life, led me to finding myself in a very bad place.
For me, freedom was learning to let go of those NeuroTypical expectations, that society and I had placed upon myself, in all of those years of not knowing.
When you are a NeuroDivergent Person, living in a world full of NeuroTypical people, even if you don’t have language for what it is that makes you different, you know you’re different.
I felt myself struggling to do things that people around me took for granted as easy, and I didn’t understand why these “simple tasks” were so hard for me. Struggling with things that people around me took for granted as easy, really amplified my sense of inadequacy, because I thought I was one of them.
I thought I was NeuroTypical. I thought I was an inferior, inadequate, NeuroTypical and that made it very hard for me to appreciate my strengths. Those weaknesses became so magnified that they were all I could see.
Before I knew I was NeuroDivergent, I fought to hide those weaknesses. I was determined to eliminate all my weaknesses. I was masking, and camouflaging, and hiding my true self from the world.
Eventually I got to a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I could no longer maintain that complex social mask that had kept me safe for most of my life, and when it all fell apart, I found out I was Autistic.
When I was in a place of crisis, I was diagnosed at 29. That’s the reality for a lot of us. We don’t find this out until we get to this crisis point, where we can’t do it anymore. Until we get to that point, a lot of us do what I did.
We hold ourselves to those NeuroTypical standards. I forced myself into their boxes, at the expense of my own mental and physical health.
I hid for safety to blend in and not make waves. I hid to avoid being the target of bullying and harassment, though bullies still seem to find me.
That’s what happens when you grow up in a violent and hostile place, where you feel you don’t belong, and are forced to the peripheries of society. Being invisible often can be safer than standing out, and I did my best to be invisible, even though it almost killed me.
What saved me really was putting down those expectations. The decision that I wouldn’t compare myself to NeuroTypicals, or hold myself to NeuroTypical standards anymore, but still, in society and our language, this default is NeuroTypical and other. It’s a very black and white, very binary.
The reality is NeuroDiversity is a human spectrum of brains, and it’s not NeuroDivergent on one end and NeuroTypical on the other. It’s a bit more complex than that. It’s not linear.
Thank you so much for hanging out with me this week. If you are still here, go ahead and hit subscribe and hit the like button if you found this video useful I do put out new videos each and every Wednesday.
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I will see you all next week. Bye.
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