Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on January 26, 2022. The video’s public release will be March 23, 2022.
Link to PT 1: A NeuroDivergent Lifestyle Here
Thumbnail image is of Lyric, a pale skinned nonbinary human, with short green, yellow, and orange hair, with shaved sides pinned back (in need of a haircut). They are sitting in an RV with dark wood panel walls. In front of them the words Society MUST Change in green and yellow text.
This week it is part two talking about ethical treatment of Autistic and NeuroDivergent humans, not medical treatment. We’re talking about the treatment we receive from society.
If you did not catch part one, you can go back and catch that. I will try to remember to put a link below. Although, I think these videos, if you want to watch them out of order, you should be fine; but I do recommend, and ask, that you please watch both videos in this series. I think you’ll find them both helpful.
Let’s dive in.
Part one of this series, was talking about the need for NeuroDivergent People to be able to live an authentic NeuroDivergent lifestlye.
Part two, diving in deeper, I want to talk about the need from society to accept us, and allow us to be ourselves and live openly and authentically; because, the reality is, though we need what I talked about in part one of this series, it’s not always safe for us to be open. It can make us vulnerable, to have people realize that our minds work differently.
Let’s talk about society’s implications, and what we need from a society, this week… to help us get to what I mentioned in the video from last week.
The first thing that NeuroDivergent People need, is something every human needs. That is to be able to be authentic, and be able to be accepted for their who they are as a person, and not have pressure to mask, camouflage, and blend yourself in.
There’s a Brené Brown quote I really like, and I’m going to quote it wrong, cause I’m doing it off the top of my head… but basically the idea is that belonging is being able to be your authentic self, and exist, and be accepted by the people around you, and conforming is that state of constantly assessing your situation, assessing yourself, and adapting, and changing yourself to the situation.
When I do trainings with organizations, I have a question that I like to ask, especially when I’m in a room full of people… and I’m going to ask it to you now.
Drop a comment in the video and let me know if people need and expect you to be someone, or something you’re not, whether you’re NeuroDivergent or NeuroTypical: does that make you misrable? Does being expected to pretend to be someone, or something, you’re not make you miserable?
Every time I’ve asked this question in a room full of people, or in a virtual space where hands can raise, I still have yet to ask this question, and not have every single hand in the room go up: NeuroTypical, NeuroDivergent… regardless.
That is because we have a very human needs to be able to be ourselves, the whole person, be accepted as we are: strengths, weaknesses, disability, status, et cetera. Autistic and NeuroDivergent People are no different, despite pressure from society constantly to conform, and mask, and camouflage, and be someone or something we aren’t.
We also need to be allowed to have a sense of self worth and purpose, versus feeling worthless, or like a burden on other people.
Because, unfortunately, many of us are not able to believe in our own skills and abilities, because we are so often forced to focus on our perceived weaknesses and the areas in which we do not measure up, when compared to NeuroTypical People, because NeuroTypical People are always used as the baseline for success, to which NeuroDivergence are held against… which is really not fair. It’s like asking a fish to climb a tree. Being forced to focus on your weaknesses all the time makes it really hard to appreciate your strengths.
I remember being at a point in my life, where I was so overly focused on my weaknesses and the things I couldn’t do, those things became so big in my mind that I couldn’t believe in myself. I didn’t know I was capable of anything. All I could think about was how I wasn’t good enough.
Those things, that I wanted to improve on, or felt weren’t good enough, when compared to other people around me, became the main focus, taking away from all of the things that were actually kind of awesome about me.
The other thing is growing up, and constantly being told what you are uncapable of, can become like a self fulfilling prophecy, because people from the outside are constantly telling you all of the things you can’t do, we’ll never be able to do. If you believe those prophecies that are put on you by other people, you may never try to do things, because you’ve been told your whole life, you won’t ever be able to do things. So you don’t try, because everyone’s told you you’ll never be able to do this. Why even bother?
We need people to believe in us, and help us believe in ourselves, help us see how wonderful and amazing we actually are, and not tell us all the ways that we fall short, when compared to other people.
It’s funny, they tell NeuroTypicals, “don’t compare yourselves to other people”. Everyone has their own individual version of success and pace, but by default, NeuroDivergent People are asked to compare ourselves to, and hold ourselves to the standards of, NeuroTypical People. We’ve got to let these double standards go. This is not fair.
We also need help from the trauma that comes from living in a world where we are not supported, where we are often ostracized, and constantly scolded, misunderstood, gaslit, and punished, for being different. The harm that comes from not being accepted, and feeling like you are a lesser type of person.
I, in addition to being Autistic, ADHD, et cetera, have a social anxiety diagnosis.
I’m going to tell you right now, I’m not socially anxious by nature. I am socially anxious by experience of repeated social failures, and the traumas that come from misreading and misinterpreting social situations, and being manipulated by people around me, because I cannot read the non-spoken social cues, and because my tone comes off wrong to people.
Sometimes people tell me my tone is too harsh. My tone is too direct. My tone isn’t soft enough. I need to soften myself, and it’s not fair to ask me to change myself, to be more palatable to other people. That’s telling me that who I am, naturally, isn’t good enough.
That’s a special kind of trauma. All of that is a special kind of trauma, that I need help with. A lot of us need help with, but we don’t have this help, because mental health professionals, and those in the medical field, often look at health problems, that are common with NeuroDivergent People, as just part of being NeuroDivergent.
When this happens, and we don’t look at these other issues, and health problems, and mental health issues, that happen in NeuroDivergent People… and we just say, “oh, that’s part of being Autistic” “That’s part of ADHD” that “anxiety is natural for Autistic People” that “anxiety is natural for the people with ADHD”.
NO! that is not natural for us. You are dismissing our mental health issues, because we are Autistic, or using being NeuroDivergent as an excuse not to help us with our co-occurring, separate from our NeuroType, health issues, mental or physical health issues.
Similarly, “Oh, can’t help you with insomnia. All Autistic People have insomnia.”
“Can’t help you with your IBS. It’s just part of being Autistic.”
No, sorry. Unacceptable.
“Can’t help you with your anxiety… Autistic People are just angry.”
Angry? Yeah. I’m angry right now.
It is unacceptable, and yes, it makes me angry.
It really does make me angry, because Autistic People’s needs are often ignored, and when we struggle, we are often punished for it, instead of helped.
That brings me to the last thing that NeuroDivergent People need from society, is for you to quit breaking us down to our behaviors. “Behaviors, behaviors, Autistic behaviors, ADHD behaviors. We need to get rid of these behaviors.”
My behavior means something. When I was a young person, growing up in elementary school, not knowing that I was NeuroDivergent, and struggling to air quotes, “behave” the way other kids in the classroom did, it was not because I was a bad kid.
I could not sit still and stay in my seat, and was constantly moving, and flapping, and singing to myself, and verbally stimming, and physically stimming, and getting up, and jumping around, and climbing under my desk, and doing all of these “behaviors” because I had needs that weren’t being met.
One: hiding under my desk, because the light was too bright, and was giving me headaches, and because being in a classroom with 20 to 30 other kids, was sensory overwhelm. I was trying to control my environment, and go to a quiet, dark space, where I could still listen and hear the teacher talking. Ooh, but climbing under my desk, when the teacher was talking, got me in a lot of trouble.
Kicking and moving my feet under the desk, which led to my feet, being tied to a chair, was because I needed more physical activity.
Usually this need for more physical activity, led to my “undesirable behavior” because I was punished for this behavior, instead of thinking about why I had the behavior: recess taken away, restricted my movement, even more.
When I needed more movement, the punishment for needing more movement was less movement, which made the problem worse.
“Go out into the hallway, go out into the hallway, go to the principal’s office. You can’t stay in your seat. Go go.”
If you would’ve just let me sit on the floor, or lay on the floor, or move around the room while listening, I could have actually participated in the education, but because my listening didn’t look like NeuroTypical listening. I was punished for it, because it was labeled “bad behavior” when compared to NeuroTypical children.
Being anxious and having anxiety was often labeled bad behavior, when that would manifest as things I would do: refusing to do things, being overwhelmed, “bad behavior”.
When we’re broken down to our behaviors, we aren’t seen as fully human people and our needs are ignored. I, really, need society to stop doing this to NeuroDivergent People.
It happens with ADHD a lot too, not just Autistic People. Being combined type, ADHD one and two, and being Autistic meant that, especially without having those labels growing up, many of the issues I struggled with were growing up were labeled as “behavioral issues” instead of addressing the underlying needs I had.
Thank you for sticking around for part two of this video series, in treating NeuroDivergent People equitably in society.
If you didn’t catch part one, remember go back and watch that part one, talking about living an authentic NeuroDivergent lifestyle, and the need to be able to do that… and this work, that we need from society, in order to be able to live full, happy, healthy, NeuroDivergent lives.
If you have anything that you want to add, that we need. Drop that in the comments below.
Thank you, everyone who gives your comments, gives your feedback, gives you your video suggestions, drop those if you have them as well. What do you want to hear about more in the future? I make these videos for you.
I’m really grateful. I couldn’t do it without you. Also, as I always do say, thanks to the Patreon supporters, Facebook subscribers, and YouTube channel members, who do the little, little bit of monetary subscription, to help fund this blog. It is made possible from the support of viewers like you.
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Today I am shooting this video, and the one before it, on January 27th, and this video is likely to come out in mid to late March. So that’s way more than a month early, just as a little way to say thank you for those viewers who help with this blog, I’m grateful for every one of you, in any capacity… just your presence being here right now. Thank you.
I will see you all next week. Bye!
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