Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on November 3, 2022. The video’s public release will be December 28, 2022.
There are a lot of obstacles that Autistic and NeuroDivergent People face, from sensory challenges, communication challenges, and misunderstandings with NeuroTypical people, and sometimes even other Autistic and NeuroDivergent People. There’s also the challenge of not having people respect and understand the way you process information.
With all of these obstacles that NeuroDivergent People face in the world, for many of us, one of the biggest obstacles that we can face, unfortunately, is often going to be the attitudes that other people have about NeuroDivergent People and NeuroDivergent traits.
If you’d like to know more, please do stay tuned.
When you’re NeuroDivergent, but people don’t know you’re NeuroDivergent, they push you to be NeuroTypical.
Many NeuroDivergent young people have NeuroDivergent parents, and unfortunately, many of our parents, if you’re my generation or older, our parents did not know they were NeuroDivergent.
Many of them were forced to conform and fit themselves into NeuroTypical standards, which meant they were then pressing their children into conforming to NeuroTypical standards, because it’s just “what you do” “Society isn’t going to change to accommodate them. They’ve got to fit themselves into society.”
On one hand we’ve got this entire generation of NeuroDivergent People, who don’t know they’re NeuroDivergent, who have tried very hard to hold themselves to NeuroTypical standards, and maybe then have held other people around them to NeuroTypical standards as well.
I know I, personally, was guilty of holding people to NeuroTypical standards, when I thought I was NeuroTypical, and I thought, “this is just what you do!” So I would check other people around me. It’s not just the attitudes of NeuroTypical people, it’s also the attitudes, of NeuroDivergent People, who don’t know they’re NeuroDivergent.
A lot of us may be getting this at home, before we even start school. Then when we get to the education system, a lot of the attitudes in the education system are extremely harmful for NeuroDivergent People.
In the school system, often, they want all children to have “quiet hands” and sit still, and look at the teacher while listening, where that is not how many of us NeuroDivergent children learn and focus, or expecting all children to be able to do math the same way, or for all children to be able to read the same way.
For example, I was supposed to be taught to read phonetically and I don’t read phonetically.
I’m hyperlexic. I’m a great reader, but phonetics is not how I read, and forcing me to read phonetically just, because it’s how the school wanted everyone to read was really ridiculous and unfair.
Or expecting me to show my work and do math the way the teacher was teaching it, just because that’s the way everyone else did math, when I could do math in my head much easier, without showing my work, just for the sake of having that conformity. Being punished for seeing things differently.
I got in trouble for not being able to show my work on my homework. I got in trouble for “cheating” on my writing papers. Because being hyperlexic meant my writing and reading comprehension was much higher than my spoken language. The teacher’s like, “No, this isn’t how you speak. You cheated. This isn’t your work.”
I was punished in the school system for my attention, not looking like NeuroTypical attention.
These attitudes of not being able to conform, and not being able to comply, and not being able to do things the way everyone else does start in the school system.
Then we look at society, and the way society prefers spoken communication to all other forms of communication, where many of us, myself included, shine better with written communication, over spoken communication.
I have literally had to teach myself to do these videos, to put things out in this visual format, because this is how social media wants information digested. It would be much faster for me to type and write out information, with a keyboard and my fingers, and would be much easier for me than doing a video, and would take a lot less time to get out a lot more words.
However, society as a whole has this attitude that written communication is not as good as spoken communication, and that spoken communication is just this gold standard, which isn’t fair for those of us who have learning disabilities or differences, that impact our ability to speak, or impact our ability to read. For example, in some jobs, maybe they don’t need to have written communication, or might have typos, and that shouldn’t be a big deal. Like if someone’s dyslexic, for example.
But having these attitudes, that people need to have a skill in every single area and aren’t allowed to have weaknesses are extremely, extremely, unhealthy and they’re pervasive.
Throughout our whole lives, we’re berated by the world around us, told that our ways of experiencing the world, our ways of learning, our ways of communicating, our ways of moving, talking, acting, are wrong.
A lot of times this continues into the workplace, where NeuroDivergent behaviors are labeled as “unprofessional.”
For example, I have seen so many NeuroDivergent People let go from organizations for being a bad air quotes, “culture fit”, or “just not getting it” where “getting it” was code for not picking up on the unspoken rules of the office, and not being able to read the boss’s mind, which is really an unfair expectation.
Things people were let go for, but were never said to their face were “making noises in the office space” – a lot of NeuroDivergent People might make noises to themselves… or “not always thinking things through before they say it” something that’s common with ADHD. You might be a little bit more impulsive… or having a typo on an email.
It’s possible, if you are dyslexic, or have dyscalculia, or hyperlexic, you might not see the typo, or your brain might transpose letters or numbers, and that can cause you to have a typo.
A lot of these things can be explained by neurodevelopmental differences, but can be scolded or punished on performance reviews, in workplaces when employers don’t understand why these things can happen.
We’re not just punished in professional settings for things. We’re often punished in social settings. For example, the social stigma around tardiness and being late, when those of us who struggle with knowing time and space in our head, or time blindness, may struggle with knowing how long it takes to get places, or do things, or planning and sequencing things in our minds, which means it’s more likely that some of us might struggle being on time, and might be late.
Because of the way society looks at people who are late, or have typos, or any of the things I have mentioned previously, the stigma is that you are a scatterbrain, you are not trying, you are not trying hard enough, and you are not applying yourself, and therefore you must not care. Which is not true at all.
For example, with my typos, and being hyperlexic, I cared to the point where I literally got afraid to hit send on an email, for years after leaving the job where having a typo on an email was a problem. Only recently, six, seven years later, can I send an email and not hit retract on it, in a panic, worried there might be one letter out of place.
Yeah, I care a lot about the typos. It doesn’t mean I’m gonna see them. I can care about them all I want. My brain is still gonna just correct them right over, and it’s just like, it’s not even there.
So many people who are not NeuroDivergent, and maybe even some NeuroDivergent People seem to think that we need more discipline, and we’re just not trying hard enough, and we’re not applying ourselves.
I have literally seen people say, “giving more spankings, and more punishment, being more strict and firm in parenting, would beat the autism out of a kid.”
Same with ADHD “We didn’t have all this ADHD stuff. We had the belt!” Which is a whole nother video in itself that we could do.
These attitudes, that you just need a new planner, or you just need to try harder, or you need to apply yourself, or you haven’t found the right system… these attitudes that NeuroD detergent people aren’t trying, and we’re using our NeuroDivergence as some sort of excuse, when we’re just trying to explain why we’re struggling and that yeah, we’re actually trying really hard, and you keep saying we’re “not trying hard enough” and it really hurts. You’re telling us, “Well, maybe you should just keep trying a little harder, because your best isn’t good enough” and, and that’s this attitude that we’re faced with.
It’s like we’re up against this wall that is really hard to move.
If you’re looking at Autistic People specifically, there’s other attitudes in society where, for example, we have parents who are literally murdering their Autistic children.
Then on social media, as an Autistic Person, parents sympathizing with them for killing their Autistic children. There’s just attitude like, “Oh, well that’s okay that they killed their child because they were Autistic.”
Whereas, when parents kill their children and their children aren’t Autistic, there’s all this outcry and there’s mourning and “How dare they, this parent killed their child.”
If they’re Autistic, it’s like, “Oh, well, you know, the parent killed their child, but their child’s Autistic, and so their parent was having a really hard time.”
Autistic People, Autistic kids, Autistic adults, have to see constantly, regularly, every day, non-autistic people, sympathizing with the murders of Autistic children.
Or with, the JRC for example, and the electroshock devices being used on Autistic and intellectually disabled children. Why is this okay? This is horrible. Autistic children are literally being tortured here and people are like, “Oh, well, but they’re Autistic.”
These attitudes, in society, that Autistic People are subhuman, less than human, less than, they’re pervasive, and they lead to the destruction of the self-esteem, and self-worth, of Autistic People.
If we believe we are less than human, we’re unworthy, we’re incapable, that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Then we can become uncapable, because we don’t know what we’re capable of, so we don’t ever try, because we believe we’re not capable.
All of these things have exponential effects, that ripple throughout society.
There’s the message that Autistic People take in about our ourselves from society, that society doesn’t think we’re enough. Society doesn’t think our best is good enough.
Then there’s also society. Society is taking in those messages that Autistic People “are something to be feared.”
We’ve got organizations, that shall not be named, that have done entire fear campaigns, talking about how Autistic People are an “e- epidemic, and your child could be Autistic too, and it’s gonna ruin your life to have an Autistic child.”
There is all this fear out there. Fear and gloom and doom, trying to make you afraid of Autistic People.
We’re just people, We’re people, we’re humans, we’re people… and that’s why I make these videos. That is why I’ve been on this quest to chase away all of this misinformation and to humanize Autistic People.
I was accused of “normalizing autism” recently and I was just like, “You know what? Darn right, we’re normalizing autism -because Autistic People are people!
We are, we are normal human people. Although normal’s not something I really ever aspire to, but we’ve been here since the beginning of humanity. We have always been here, and modern society and society’s attitudes towards Autistic People are a really huge obstacle for us, but we’re not going anywhere.
Spreading fear and gloom and doom, it’s not helping anybody.
All right, everyone. That’s the video. If you’re still here, hit that thumbs up, let me know you made it all the way to the end. If you’re new here, go ahead and hit that follow, subscribe, turn on the notifications, because I put out new long format videos each and every single Wednesday.
Thank you everyone who follows, who subscribes, who hits the like button to let me know that I didn’t lose you in transit to this point. What do you think about this video?
Do you think that attitudes from society are one of the biggest obstacles that Autistic and NeuroDivergent People face?
Society’s attitudes are one of my biggest obstacles that I face, as a NeuroDivergent Person, in the world, and I’d like to know if this is true for you too.
Thanks everyone who shares your perspective and thanks everyone, of course, before I forget: the monetary supporters on Facebook, Twitter, Patreon, the YouTube supporters -those of you who do that monetary subscription, you helped me put out my first book the Neurodiversity, workplace culture book would not exist without my monetary supporters- Workplace NeuroDiversity Rising.
I’m gonna be recording the audio book next. So your support will help in the creation of that audio book. Then David and I are gonna start working on some children’s books. Also we’re gonna be hosting some meetups.
All of that is made possible thanks to the supporters, because we’re having these free meetups and all these things. So, thank you!
I will see you all next week. Bye.
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5 thoughts on “Society’s Attitudes Towards Autistic and Other NeuroDivergent People Can Be Deadly”
Hi. Well, I have an adult child who functions a little low with Downs, my brother has a child who functions low with Autism, my cousin has a child with Aspergers. And I’ll tell you what it is. When it’s obvious a child or person is handicapped, like with Downs, people are compassionate for the most part. Never had anyone be rude to me with Josh. The higher functioning you are, the more “normal” you look, the more people expect normal behavior and I believe they just don’t understand. Not that they would be cruel if they did. Only little kids would stare at Josh funny and I’d explain. I’m sorry it’s difficult for you. I think higher functioning people no matter what is wrong, mental illness, etc. sometimes feel very different. But I’ve found they don’t REALLY want our expectations to be different than we’d have for anyone–that bothers them, too. So it can be a no-win thing. I’m certain, too, there are people who just simply don’t understand and are mean. I’m sorry if that’s happened.
p.s. If your goal really is to stand apart, and sometimes it is for anyone, and you don’t want to “fit in,” then don’t be surprised when you don’t! Expect that as a matter of course and you shouldn’t care if they don’t accept you. This is true for anyone. It’s kind of an oxymoron sort of thing if you want “acceptance” for being “different” right? Society has to value that? If they did, we’d all be the same again, ha. Don’t let them get to you.
I apologize if I have misunderstood your comment as I find it difficult to “read between the lines” and tend to have a very literal interpretation of what I hear/read unless it’s pointed out that the intent is not literal. Your comment seems to be about choosing to be different. It’s not a matter of choice, it’s a matter of being different.
It is most certainly not an oxymoron to desire acceptance for being different or having different abilities. In fact I find such an idea abhorrent. An ideal society would be one where every difference was accepted and accommodated for.
I find it extremely unpleasant to make eye contact – in fact so unpleasant that if I force myself to actually do it, I will comprehend absolutely nothing that is said to me. That makes me very different from typical people. I want people to be able to accept that fact without judging me as being disinterested, rude, defiant or many other negative connotations I’ve been assigned over the years. Even if I’m given the opportunity to explain why I avoid eye contact, it’s often dismissed as irrelevant or insignificant and that it’s simply a matter of choosing not to make eye contact for selfish reasons. People who accept this difference don’t demand either explicitly or implicitly that I make eye contact. They accept my difference and adjust their expectations accordingly.
I have prosopagnosia to the extent that I can’t always recognise my wife, children or siblings if I didn’t expect to see them in a particular context. I have permanently antagonised many people because I have failed to recognise them in an out of context situation. They believe I have snubbed them deliberately, making the judgement that I am a less than nice person, even after I have explained why I didn’t recognise them. People who accept I have difficulty recognising faces, treat me “differently” by introducing themselves each time we meet. So if my brother sees me in the street and wants to say hello to me, he’ll say “”Hi, I’m brother Graeme” instead of simply “Hi” before continuing. A former work colleague, when he learnt that I had prosopagnosia, made a point of wearing the same tie pin every day so that I could easily recognise him. A simple courtesy greatly appreciated by me.
I find it difficult to speak fluently. I struggle constructing sentence on the fly. I find smalltalk impossible to manage, although I can give long monologues on topics I find interesting. Unless I have rehearsed sentences, I’m likely to tangle up words or even syllables. I also have no idea when it’s my turn to speak in a conversation. People who accept this difference, will make a point of inviting me to speak and then give me time to prepare what I want to say. Where this happens people are often surprised at my intelligence, insights and dry sense of humour. When I’m not given that space, I’m considered rude and self centered for interrupting the conversation inappropriately, inarticulate, with nothing worthwhile to contribute, and rather stupid. Some people accept my differences and I can flourish and grow. Most don’t and I’m an outsider deserving of whatever bad happens to me.
All we’re asking is that accommodation be made for our differences. That’s what acceptance means.
My report cards through elementary and high school always had “If only Laura would apply herself…” good grief, I tried to understand the “new math” at the time, but I would come up with my own way to figure a problem, and it wasn’t how I was supposed to do it. I struggled so much socially. I spent most of my time wishing I was invisible and was mostly mute; speaking in class was awful. I was scared, at times I was in constant “fight or flight” if one of the bullies happened to be in my class. By 11th grade, I knew I wanted to go to college to get away from my hometown, so I “applied” myself, conforming as best as I could, even taking a public speaking class, and went from a “C” student to honors by the time I graduated. Workplaces were difficult as I communicated better in writing than verbally sparing with people who do that well, especially after what I went through this year with a boss who was gaslighting me. I’m so glad I was able to retire. I don’t think I could stand being in a workplace environment ever again after the trauma I went through during my last year of employment.
Attitude does matter & Positive Attitude