Feminist Aspie

Does what it says on the tin.

I’m Not Sick: A rant about neurotypical privilege.

on February 12, 2013

I am autistic, and I’m sick of neurotypical privilege.

I’m sick of hearing that I and others like me can’t live a full life. We can, and we do. We just need a little help sometimes.

I’m sick of being told my experience isn’t real, that I’m just an attention-seeker or a special snowflake, or having those accusations directed at my parents.

I’m sick of the myth that vaccines cause autism. And even if that were true, I’m sick of people avoiding vaccinating their children because they’d rather they get ill or even die than be like me.

I’m sick of autism being compared to cancer and AIDS. The latter two are diseases which can and do kill. Autism is not.

I’m sick of hearing that autism is an “epidemic”. The reason that more people are diagnosed with autism now is that there is so much more awareness regarding autism. The numbers will probably continue to increase for a while, for that reason.

I’m sick of being told I have to pass for neurotypical to be liked and accepted by my peers. I have a great circle of friends who are really understanding and supportive. If  people judge me for not being neurotypical, that says more about them than it does about me.

I’m sick of hearing that stimming is a bad thing. If it’s not hurting anybody, I don’t see what the problem is. And if rocking and flapping and twitching is what’s going to stop me having a meltdown, that’s what I’ll do. I’m sick of being told in one breath that you have to learn to cope and in the next breath that you can’t do that to cope.

I’m sick of being told not to scream after I’ve screamed at a sudden loud bang. Emphasis on the word sudden. It’s not like I thought about it and made a conscious choice to scream.

I’m sick of the people around me saying “Stop that, it’s embarassing” or “That must really annoy your friends” when it doesn’t. I’m especially sick of that under the guise of “We’re used to you, but other people…” when they seem to have more of a problem with it than other people.

I’m sick of all this driving me to a meltdown and then being told that that’s embarassing too.

I’m sick of “quiet hands”.

I’m sick of most of the “treatment” for autism being based on making people on the spectrum pass for neurotypical, rather than social skills or advocacy or something else that might actually solve some problems. I’m sick of living in a society in which the most important thing, above all else, is to comply.

I’m sick of conditioned compliance.

I’m sick of literally greeting people with apologies because of the constant fear that I’m screwing up, that I don’t know how to comply. Everyone who knows me is sick of it, too.

I’m sick of struggling to make minor decisions in public (like what to order for food) because there’s only one right answer, only one way to comply, and I’m sick of not believing people (at the time) when they tell me they really don’t mind what I choose. Again, everyone who knows me is sick of it. Everyone is sick of conditioned compliance, so it seems.

I’m sick of being spoken for.

I’m sick of all the media, the panels, all the publicity surrounding the autistic spectrum focusing on people who aren’t actually on the spectrum – the family, the friends, the “experts”, everyone but the person who knows what it’s like. I don’t want to attack all those people – they’re usually well-meaning and really want to help, and please keep fighting the good fight – but seriously, an all-male panel discussing sexism clearly isn’t a good idea, and I’m sick of people not seeing that an all-neurotypical panel discussing autism isn’t a good idea either. Especially when they don’t listen to people who are actually on the spectrum

I’m sick of not being listened to because I don’t have a child or another relative on the spectrum. am autistic. Is that not enough?

I’m sick of being treated like a child.

I’m sick of people telling me I’m “not really autistic” because I’m not like another autistic person they know. It’s called a spectrum for a reason. This counts double when they’re a child; if I’m a lot older than them, of course I’m going to be more able with some aspects of life, autism or no autism. Nowadays, I rarely have public meltdowns and I can follow the major social rules (e.g. personal space), but I’m sick of people assuming this also applies to my childhood. It doesn’t.

I’m especially sick of the above when the person telling me I’m “not autistic enough” isn’t on the spectrum themselves. How is it logical that I’m “not autistic enough” to know what I’m talking about, but you’re qualified when you’re not autistic at all?

I’m sick of functioning labels and the assumptions they carry with them.

I’m sick of the assumption that people who are verbal are “high-functioning” and people who are non-verbal are “low-functioning”.

I’m sick of people on the spectrum being told they’re either too “high-functioning” to know what they’re talking about, or too “low-functioning” to know what they’re talking about.

I’m sick of worrying that people won’t understand my needs because I’m apparently “high-functioning”. Similarly, I’m sick of the potential of other people on the spectrum being ignored because they’re apparently “low-functioning”.

I’m sick of being told that Asperger’s syndrome isn’t “really autism”. I’d imagine that people with PDD-NOS are sick of being told the same about that.

I’m sick of the constant thought that one day, there might be a pill or an injection that could wipe out people like me, that could turn me into the norm, that could make me comply, that wouldn’t care that most of my personality is eradicated along with it.

I’m sick of being told I’m selfish for not wanting such a cure, and that the people telling me I do need a cure are somehow not selfish.

Autism isn’t a sickness. Neurotypical privilege is.


74 responses to “I’m Not Sick: A rant about neurotypical privilege.

  1. Yes to all of this. I’m so glad you wrote something long and brilliant. It feels like a manifesto.

    This sentence especially hit me hard: “I’m sick of being told in one breath that you have to learn to cope and in the next breath that you can’t do that to cope.”

    There are a lot of ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ experiences that come with being autistic and it get so damned exhausting being constantly pushed to choose the lesser of two perceived evils.

    • Thank you so much! :D It’s certainly been a long time coming; I’ve wanted to write about this sort of thing for a while, but all my other posts have been about feminism so I wasn’t sure about randomly changing the subject :P However, I guess I had to in the end!
      Haha, I see what you mean by lesser of two evils. I’ve had many times that have resulted in option three – meltdown – and been told off for that too. XD

  2. Dee Bee says:

    Hi, have you looked into the concept of “epistemic injustice”? Using this as a lense, feminism and ASD can be viewed as having a similar philosophical foundation.

  3. Aspie Noodle says:

    I agree with everything!

    As someone who (unknowingly) tried to pass as neurotypical all my life, leaving me physically and mentally exhausted from all the pretending and internalising, I have to deal with a lot of the “but you seem normal”-BS.

    I feel like all my life I have been holding my breath to the point where I nearly suffocated, and now, that thanks to a diagnosis I am slowly learning how to breathe, a lot of people would prefer me to keep holding my breath.

    And how about when they diminish your feelings/worries/triggers by saying “Oh but I have that too. That’s normal.” And then five minutes later when you accidentally flap your hands, you all of a sudden are a “total freak”.

    • Thank you! :) I’m lucky enough to have been diagnosed at around 9 years old, but it’s only in the past year or so, and especially since starting university, that I realised there were a lot of things I actually shouldn’t have to put up with. I think it’s because everyone here is just so understanding, and I’m realising that it isn’t and shouldn’t be “the norm” for people to take one look at me and think I’m a “freak” or something.
      I totally agree with your point about triggers and stims. Apparently it’s too visible to be allowed in the world of NT-based compliance, but not visible enough to do anything to prevent it (i.e. remove the trigger). So irritating.

  4. Janine Booth says:

    I like this article. A lot. I recognise pretty much all of it. And I’d probably add that I’m sick of not feeling able to say that I’m sick of all this because of the anger and judgement that would come my way.
    My one minor point is that I am not convinced by the concept of ‘neurotypical privilege’. I’m not sure that neurotupicals as a group are ‘privileged’ and that this is the root of the problem.

    • Thank you! :) “And I’d probably add that I’m sick of not feeling able to say that I’m sick of all this because of the anger and judgement that would come my way.” – YES. THAT. SO MUCH THAT.

      I suppose “neurotypical privilege” is that they don’t have to deal with any of the above (most of the time), rather than people expressly and deliberately favouring them.

    • You must be blind, then. They are the second most privileged group in the world (second to men).

  5. I am an NT…and I really liked your article. Sometimes people need to be reminded that they’re “well meaning acceptance/tolerance” can easily cross the line into demeaning condescencion. And another thing, don’t ever feel like your blog is set in stone. It’s YOUR blog…write about whatever you want. We’re reading/listening.

  6. [...] A rant about neurotypical privilege by Feminist Aspie [...]

  7. James says:

    This is excellent. Thank you. Particularly the “learn to cope, but not like that” idea. I have learned to cope, to some degree – the problem is that when other people start to cavil at my coping strategies, it means that they stop working.

  8. Nicola Prigg says:

    I agree with everything. But I do wonder about the all neurotypical panel – when you don’t know whether they are neurotypical or not.
    Gordon Brown is said to be autistic but nobody knows for sure because he hasn’t been diagnosed and he probably doesn’t want a diagnosis or at least won’t publicise it so we’ll never know.
    Whilst it would be good to see autistic people talking for themselves on panels instead of their relatives.
    But it is very hard to know whether people on the panel are neurotypical or not. One because I’m guessing there is a lot of neurovariety out there and most of them we don’t have names for yet. With neurovariety, nobody is typical and would be very hard to get a neuro-balanced panel.

    • Thank you! :)

      I agree, it would certainly be very difficult, especially as many places won’t diagnose adults; in particular, women and girls often struggle to get a diagnosis (because the majority of autistic people are male). And, like you say, some people just don’t want a diagnosis.

      Having said that, this problem doesn’t just apply to panels. For example, virtually every book/website/etc about autism focuses on “your child with autism”; there are very few that talk to autistic people themselves.

      • Beth says:

        How true – finding a book about realtionshisp and marriage is nigh on impossible. so many times we nearly broke up simply down to how we use language and not understanding each other.

        My husband doesnt want to get diagnosed but between us we are finding our way. many forget aspie children grow into aspie adults.

      • Definitely. Thank you! :)

      • Nicola Prigg says:

        There is also a problem of what is “neurotypical”. I’ve just volunteered to teach adults with literacy (i.e. basic reading/writing, numeracy and computer skills). None of them will be neurotypical. Many people who you might claim as “neurotypical” maybe far from the norm.
        I honestly don’t think there is such a thing as “neurotypical”.

      • Many blogs etc now use “allistic” to mean specifically “not autistic” (but not necessarily NT), and that’s a habit I really need to get into too, to be honest. Regarding what NT actually is, I’d say it’s more about societal expectations than an actual type of person. Sadly, people are still expected to comply to a norm, even though 99% of the time that norm doesn’t actually exist. :(

      • autisticook says:

        I use neurotypical to unequivocally express my kinship with all kinds of neurological disabilities. You are less likely to get hired at a new job if you are open about your autism or about your clinical depression. You are more likely to be the victim of bullying if you are schizophrenic or autistic. It’s harder to keep an eye on household finances and chores if you have autism or ADHD. We’re all neurologically different and society puts us at a disadvantage in similar ways. That doesn’t mean we’re all alike, we all have our uniquely individual struggles, even within the same disorder. But there is still a huge gap between us and the neurotypical norm. That’s why I use neurotypical and not just allistic.

  9. commsdisabilitywatch says:

    Love it, how very true. My husband is an aspie, he didnt know til recently in the 70’s he was just seeen as an odd bod, with a few obsessions.
    We find our way together and find the balance between his needs and mine. We do it with kindness, love, laughter care.

    Its not all ways easy, I get it wrong, so does he..we are human beings first. I love his logic and world view he loves mine sometimes though i make assumptions and so does he.

    Thank you – we are all human just with differences

  10. patrickhadfield says:

    What an excellent post.

    I’m “nt” – at least, I assume I am – and I’m open to the thought that I’m the problem.

    Good luck!

    • Thank you! :) I should add that it’s not like all NT people are a problem – such an assumption would be just as bad, in many ways, as the problems I talk about above – just that in the same breath, autism isn’t always the problem either :)

  11. nisha360 says:

    I have these kind of days too I HATE it when people assume that I’m unhappy just because I have Cerebral Palsy I use a wheelchair to take me from Point A to Point B it doesn’t mean my life is worse than anybody else’s.

  12. Hey, I’d just like to say that this was really informative to me. I don’t think I’m guilty of any of the grievances you mentioned (but, I mean, what privileged person ever does?), but now I can certainly avoid them in the future. Thank you.

  13. dennis says:

    You – and the rest of us – are encountering the Privileged realm of ‘Normalcy’. In that realm, there are NO rights, only privileges – privileges that must be earned continually. The chief manner in which most people earn this vast array of privilges is by demonstrating that they are fully NORMAL.
    This is not, however, a matter of behavior, as mere behavior can be faked – at least, it can be faked to some degree for a time. If you’ve “passed for normal” to any extent for a time, you know what I mean.
    The way one earns the privileges accruing to Normals is by possessing the appropriate quantity and quality of instinct. Ever wonder why some Normals can ‘out’ you the minute they’re aware of your presence – how they hate you on sight? That’s NORM-DAR in action. If you ‘pass’ the instinctual Voight-Kampf test, then you’re HUMAN – (Normal) – and in the process, you EARN those privileges accorded Humans.
    Yes, we are subhuman in the eyes of the Normals. Get used to it – they Like it that way.

    • I know exactly what you mean. Exactly. They sense your judging/thinking factor, behind the eyes. It’s something only method acting can hide. The only way to hide from them, is to shut down your logical faculty and become one of them.

      A writer wrote a very interesting article on this years ago, not coming to the Asperger’s conclusion, but having a very good point nonetheless: that it may not be Aspergers which causes most “aspergery” traits, but being a person who chooses to be judging and honest. Those who choose to cover up what they see and notice, who block out truth from their lives, are deemed “normal” and they decide to diagnose with Aspergers those who remind them they are living a lie.

      Here is the article. You will love it.

      http://politicsofautism.weebly.com/articles.html

      Scroll down until it says “comprachicos”

  14. […] importantly, it makes me who I am, and that person isn’t going to change any time soon. As Feminist Aspie astutely puts it, ‘I’m sick of hearing that I and others like me can’t live a full life. […]

  15. dennis says:

    A-ha! Got it! Norm-dar most likely works on the principle of “brain-wave interference”. When musicians play together, their brains synchronize to a marked degree. Similar situation applies between mothers and small children – with the mother Leading and the child Following, which causes the child to register as ‘an obedient bodily extension’ (cf. Ian Ford, nts always after dominance in relationships).
    When Norms (their preferred term – speaks of moral superiority) send out ‘sync’ signals and get a ‘high standing wave ratio’, they know the recipient isn’t RESONANT with them – and the sole benefit intrinsic to Normie functioning is that capacity to operate ‘in hive-mind mode’. More, to accept non-resonant individuals is to weaken the hive – hence they are destroyed without remorse.
    Truly, instinct does define identity.

  16. mplo says:

    This is way off of the subject, but one of the reasons why I disliked Ben Affleck’s 3 year old film, “The Town” so much, is because the (supposedly) normal, neurotypical Claire Keesey, the bank manager whose bank was robbed at gunpoint by Doug MacRay and his band of Charlestown, who wore masks and nuns’ habits at the time to avoid being identified, is stupid enough to start dating Doug MacRay, having no clue as to who he was, and refusing to sever contact with him even after finding out who he was, had a complete breakdown when her stupidity and arrogance came around to bite her in the ass, and then, had the nerve to spend stolen money on the restoration of the C-Town hockey rink for the little kiddies in the community.

    The most disgusting aspect of it all is that “The Town” not only conveys the message that it’s okay just simply because Claire’s a neurotypical, princess-like babe who supposedly lost her way through traumatization by the robbery and kidnapping, but the fact that most people think that this kind of stuff is okay and have sympathy for Doug MacRay and Claire Keesey is rather disgusting, imho. The dumbing-down of neurotypical America’s at work here.

  17. June Bug says:

    I just put a link to this in a comment on Youtube. The video was by this lady with an autistic son… so I thought I would watch it. I never got to watch it, because in the comments I saw her go on and on about how Aspergers isn’t really autism, and so on. I usually don’t care, but I am having a go with disibility servuces, and because my papers say “Aspergers,” nobody knows how to help me, and things have been awful. They expect me to explain things to them during a crisis, and won’t listen when I say I get nonverbal during stress.

    It just upset me SO MUCH that she would spread that crap. I told her that it was unfair to say that, that it’s a spectrum. That just because some doctor says it’s on “this end” it doesn’tmean someone on “that end” cannot ALSO be on “this end.”

    Comments like that are part of the reason my depression is so bad. And these people saying these things Don’t. Care.

  18. dennis says:

    The ‘full’ life – as defined by the Normals – is a life spent in questing for Power expressed as Social Dominance, with all activity directed toward the ultimate goal of becoming Omniscient, Omnipresent,and Omnipotent – in short, “the God.”
    All Normals are born with that particular instinctual drive. They are trained from early years that it is Expedient to hide this – and most other – expressions of their true and inward nature from others like themselves.
    Toward lesser beings, however, expression of this reality only await suitable opportunity. This is the reason for those less-than-subtle Pogroms poured out upon those of us who – so it is believed, anyway – who have Chosen to be as we are.
    You heard that correctly: the Normals believe – subconsciously, in the realms of instinct – that all of life is a choice; that all being control utterly everything that touches them, this from conception to decomposition; and the sole reason for not engaging in self-deification is the deliberate choice of “EVIL.”

  19. autisticook says:

    How is it logical that I’m “not autistic enough” to know what I’m talking about, but you’re qualified when you’re not autistic at all?

    Oh. Thisthisthisthisthis.

    I forgot what else I wanted to say. You’re awesome.

  20. Felix says:

    Ah dear.. I googled neurotypical and found this blog. I love to complain about my lot, but am only a tiny bit on the spectrum if at all. Also used to scream after loud bangs, managed to get out of it. Then there is the elevated amount of effort required to have (fake) normal conversation and body language. Someone wrote somewhere about how if you’re tired and forget to maintain correct body language there’s nasty consequences.. There is a certain extra effort in things, have never had arm flapping quite but a few other strange body language maneuvers I have had to un-learn. For me it’s not that there’s nasty consequences, just that I will not make new friends/girlfriends or win respect if I’m not conscious and careful with my body language and conversation. With language in particular, I tend not to naturally adopt cool, trendy language. Naturally more formal, but have to consciously and deliberately use certain cooler words eg “wanna go somewhere?”.

    Why are all you guys wanting “a diagnosis” ?

    It’s a pain.. I think I have been living in the “normal” sphere for ages and not ever acknowledged that it takes me a generally higher effort to do so than those who are actually born normal rather than having to learn it.. Ah well it has its advantages and perks too ;) faster learning of technical shit and foreign languages so shouldn’t complain too much.. Have to take the good with the bad.

    A have a suspicion that these autistic conditions are partially curable, since at 19 you would say I was definitely on the spectrum, but at 35 I have become so normal, it only rarely crosses my mind.

    Oh yes.. This anger at “neurotypical privilege”. I do get rather angry when I feel that one tiny body language slip-up and a girl can lose attraction for me, or an interview can go to shit. Thing is, you can turn it around in a sociopathic way and say “if I fake it up well, they fall for it..”. Some people worry about the “judging/..” of neurotypicals, but trust me you can outsmart them some of the time ;) I wish I could do it more often and even the score!

    • autisticook says:

      Hi Felix! I understand where you’re coming from, it sounds like you’ve worked hard to learn how to fit in. I had to adapt to living “normally” as well, and for the most part I’m getting away with it – people just think I’m a bit odd at most. What you say about some things costing extra effort is probably something a lot of people on the spectrum recognise.

      I’m 36 now and have been living independently for the past 18 years. Some things were definitely easier whenever I had someone else around to give me some support, but I’ve always managed on my own as well. Things like buying groceries, keeping my house clean and tidy, doing the laundry, cooking, keeping an eye on my finances, managing my paperwork, having a full time job in IT, generally taking care of myself… those all require effort but I can manage it on my own.

      It’s just a pity that it requires so much effort to live “in the normal sphere” that I don’t have any energy or strength left to do anything just for the fun of it. If I go see a movie with a friend or two, I know I wouldn’t be good for much the day after, and I’d probably have to postpone the laundry to next weekend. I always have to mentally balance out the benefits of doing social stuff (feeling good, seeing my friends) and the benefits of staying home (having clean clothes to wear to work the coming week). I just don’t have the strength to do everything that neurotypical people do, because the “normal” stuff – everything that I’ve mentioned, plus everything that you’ve mentioned, like being careful with conversations and body language – costs me extra effort compared to them. Autism spectrum disorders don’t give a person more energy than neurotypicals, so having (roughly) the same amount of total energy means I have to divvy it up differently.

      And no, my extra effort never gets acknowledged either.

      However, it sounds like you think that it’s normal to have to work harder to fit in when you’re autistic. You’ve shared your own experiences and I can see how you’ve come to that conclusion, especially since you say you’re not much if at all on the spectrum.

      Think of it this way though. I’m going to give an example which may sound a bit silly and exaggerated, but bear with me.

      “I don’t understand why women have to have individual toilet stalls when all they need to do is pee. Why can’t they learn how to pee standing up and use the urinals like men do? Those stalls take up huge amounts of space. No wonder there’s always a line at the ladies’ room. I know women don’t have a penis but they should simply make more effort to use something else, like a funnel or whatever. I can pee standing up. It’s not that hard.”

      What you’re saying is that because it’s been easy for you, it should be easy for everyone on the spectrum. Or that if they say it’s not easy, they should simply try harder. Work harder. Make more effort. Not have that effort acknowledged. This is how it is.

      This is why most of us, myself included, want “a diagnosis” (although I have no idea why you put that between quotes, because it’s not just a thing you do for 5 minutes on a Monday afternoon. It takes an enormous amount of time, effort, determination, and often money as well). A diagnosis is at least some acknowledgment that yes, it does take more effort for us to get things done. And that’s ok. We’ve all come far. We’ve all grown up. We’re not children anymore. Of course we can do far more things than a 5 year old can do. But it still takes more effort than it does for most of our age peers, no matter how bright or intelligent some of us are.

      That acknowledgment is important, because it means we don’t have to beat ourselves up for being “faulty” human beings anymore when we slip up. It’s like being an American in Paris and trying to do the best you can to fit in, speaking French and eating croissants and drinking cafe au lait, but sometimes you forget and say “Shit!” instead of “Merde!”. It happens. It’s because you’re different, not because being French is somehow better than being American. (Although most Americans seem to think being American is always better than anything else, but that’s a different story). In the same way, it’s easier to forgive slip-ups when it’s simply different brain wiring, instead of proof that you’re not worth being friends with or not worth getting hired for that job or not worth simply getting respected as a human being. Because that’s what you literally said up there: “For me it’s not that there’s nasty consequences, just that I will not win respect if I’m not careful.”

      With just a little bit of acknowledgment, understanding, and acceptance, all that wouldn’t be necessary. That’s what this rant is about. How easy it would be for “normal” people to simply have an open mind when it comes to differences, and then a lot of that extra effort that you are expected to make wouldn’t even be needed. You could stop being hypervigilant. You could stop worrying whether a slip-up could cause a girl to lose her attraction to you. You could have all that extra energy you suddenly don’t have to spend just on “appearing normal”, and spend it on becoming even more awesome and learning even more foreign languages and technical shit. Just imagine what you could do with all that extra effort not spent on trying to fit in!

      And with that little bit of acknowledgment, you don’t even need to become a sociopath. Because. Well. Neurotypical people are not the enemy, you know. They’re just different. And different deserves respect, not revenge.

      • autisticook says:

        PS If I’ve offended anyone by that comment of thinking being an American is better, I’m sorry about that. Nearly all of my American friends don’t think that way, but they are unfortunately in the minority.

  21. […] I’m Not Sick: A rant about neurotypical privilege.. […]

    • fred says:

      Hey, thanks for the reply.. it all reminds me of the opening to Deconstructing Harry :

      Now posting under a different name..

      Ah dear…

      I have been actually putting effort into the technical stuff I’m naturally good at now, trying to turn it into something profitable etc. Winding up a several year long obsession with body language and conversation/chit-chat. For the foreseeable future anyhow. Back to my natural strengths for a while.

      Another example is.. a cat naturally climbs trees whereas a dog does not. Maybe it could if it wanted to enough, practice etc..

      I can tell by reading these various blogs that I’ve got it reasonably good if I am on the spectrum.

      The spectrum probably fades to grey, so doesn’t have a fixed cut-off between autistic and normal, so if you’re at the lower end in the grey somewhere you can never really tell if you’re in the grey or the white..

      There’s no blood test or urine test or even dna test for it I don’t think so you can’t sort of go get a 0 or 1 style certificate anywhere..

  22. […] about a new comment on one of the blogs I follow, Feminist Aspie. Feminist Aspie has written an excellent rant about neurotypical privilege and the constant misconceptions and prejudice about autism that she has to do battle with. Being […]

  23. Ken says:

    Can someone please assist a disadvantaged neurotypical? I have read many blogs about how not to interact with people within the autistic spectrum, (hate that term). I am a teacher who has found a bit of a gift for doing this successfully with young people and consider myself to be a “neuro-relativist” i.e, I take everyone at face value and hope they do likewise with me. But amongst the mature, and some parents of these kids who seem to steer them in the direction of the above sentiments it seems that there are so many pre-arranged snares waiting to be sprung, or so many opportunities to offend that I feel as if it may lead to me avoiding interaction altogether with those over 20 yrs old. Could someone maybe list what you would like to talk about with a neurotypical? Any suggestions as to what would assuage your anger with us? (Apart from following the above instructions) If you were in my classroom we would just be two people interacting and achieving an agreed goal. Would this be possible in a social situation? How would my insistence on not acknowledging any difference between us go down with you?

    • Susanna says:

      Hi Ken,
      you feel the need to interact, the other person doesn´t. That´s all you need to know to understand what it is that you are trying to do when you want to “achieve and agreed goal”. The kid that is forced to be in a class doing things that he sees no sense in doing… is now being forced to negotiate terms in which he will do what the teacher wants him to do via a social interaction.
      YOu don ot need specific directions. All you need is to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. HOw would you like do be yanked out of your house by someone who is larger and more powerful than you, put into a place full of strangers, being forced to do things you don´t see a point in doing and told you are not free to leave? HOw would you feel? Would you feel happy and cooperative? Or would you feel angry and confrontational? Then, another person comes to “deal” with you and uses lying and emotional trickery (which by the way you can see a mile away) to try to coax you into doing what he wants you to do. You can protest all you want but in the end… you know that your parents are ganged up with the teacher, so you are utterly alone in your quest for being respected as a person. Think: how would you feel? LIke a prisioner? Disrespected? Having your rights as an individual ignored?
      Next time, try not to “interact and achieve an agreed goal”. Try trating the kid as an individual and respecting his choice of not doing whatever stupid activity the other kids are agreeing to do. Hear him out and ask what he would prefer to be doing. If he says he wants to go home, say: “Ok, but you will have to do some extra work for me to let you skip this class. If you do this work and show me you have learned what the other kids have to learn, you can go home.” Give him the task that your NT kids will take a whole month to learn and he will do it in a couple of days or so. If he has questions, answer them. If he has not, leave him be. When he achieved to finish the task correctly, reward him and give him what he wants. Let him go home and concentrate on your NT kids which need your attention much more than the autistic kid, who couldn´t care less and is grateful you left him alone.
      Understand that this need for interaction and reaching common goals is your need, nor ours. Just tell us what to do, how to do it and give us a date in which you would want the task to be done. Then go socialize with other students who want to get out of doing tasks and prefer to talk and reach common goals.
      If you think this is harsh… think about it in an adult´s world perspective. Are business meetings ever productive? Who is the best emplyee, the one that chats all the time, or the one who gets the work done in time? What is the best business practice: reaching goals or talking endlessly about them? Who would you want to be in charge of your finances, your health and any other important area of your life: a dozen people who socialize well or a couple of experts who know exactly what they are doing?
      Stop trying to average-out all of the potential experts. We have enough dumb social people already. Leave the Autistics alone and stop “fixing” what isn´t broken.

      • Ken says:

        My apologies but you may have misunderstood my post, or inadvertently answered my question. The pupils I work with are there under their own volition as they have chosen the course. I have nothing but enjoyment from them (nothing to do with me or my needs) as they work through projects that they have chosen and are curious about (one wants to design military uniforms). They are given complete freedom to work as and when they choose, and we do willingly interact (there is no other way) and find ourselves in fits of laughter as the sense of humour on three of them is astounding. My problems start when innocently interacting with adult persons with Aspergers or ASD.
        I’m sorry if you had a bad experience in school, and perhaps that’s why you felt the need to chastise me, but the point of my post was to ask some advice about how to genuinely and honestly make friends with someone with Aspergers. What I gather from your reply is “don’t bother”?

      • autisticook says:

        Not every autistic person is angry. ;)

        Yes, there are some things that are hurtful and offensive… but they would be hurtful and offensive if you said them to any other person as well. Like “Oh, but you seem so NORMAL!” (Yeah. That’s offensive). Or “Stop whining and get over it.” (Yeah. Try saying that to your wife, see how she responds). Every bit in FeministAspie’s rant would be things that you would NEVER say to a non-autistic person, and things that would upset you if another person said them to you, too.

        So the bottom line is: treat us like people. We may be odd, we may flap our hands, we may have unusual interests, we may not always be all that fluent in spoken language, we may be uncomfortable with loud noises or bright lights or have picky eating habits, but we’re still people.

        And I think that’s what you’re aiming for. If those guys you hang out with are your friends, people you like spending time with, as PEOPLE, not as charity cases, then you’re a good person. Don’t let angry words from people who haven’t always been treated as people keep you from being a good person.

    • autisticook says:

      Just as an additional thingie: we’re all different (duh). If you run into someone at work or in the pub, and you start insisting that that person is exactly the same as you, with the same experiences and the same likes and dislikes… yeah, not gonna work. Don’t insist on “not acknowledging any difference between us”. That’s devaluing the experiences and feelings of that other person, no matter what their neurology. Everyone has their own challenges, their own past, their own joys, their own sorrows. If we were all the same, what would we have left to talk about? If you were the same as me, I wouldn’t be engaging you in conversation right now, and neither of us would learn anything. :)

      • Ken says:

        Thanks Autisticook, now that I can work with. Behaviours are universal challenges across the neurological spectrum, and the most unfathomable ones are frequently displayed by so called neurotypicals. But we all come across conundrums that we seek to unravel. One of mine is fairly and respectfully interacting (when desired) with non-neurotypical people. Not for the sake of any vanity project or tawdry pseudo charitability, but more of a self and group improvement, and to provide for the needs (theirs, not mine or society’s) of the kids I teach.

  24. Chris says:

    We’re not privileged just for not having your disease. Don’t you think we’ve got problems in our lives? Only a small, rich minority of people can be called privileged in any society.

    • alexforshaw says:

      Hi Chris. You’re quite right that a lot of people have problems of one kind or another in their lives. Some problems are financial, others are related to health, and still others are the result of discrimination.

      But privilege is not just about wealth. Even if all other factors are equal a man has a better chance on average of getting a particular job than a woman. The same goes for a white person against a person of color, at least in white-dominated cultures such as the US and Europe. Privilege in these cases comes simply from being born into a particular group. Privilege does not mean that somebody has it easy; it simply means that the odds are biased, however slightly, in their favor.

      And so to autism (which is not a disease but a developmental disorder, an important distinction to autistic people). As Georgia explains in her article, autistic people are expected to fit in — to behave the same as neurotypical people — to be accepted. Our differences are too often seen as making us abnormal, wrong. This is neurotypical privilege: instead of treating us as people of equal worth we are considered to be less because we are different. We face discrimination because we do not conform exactly to the norm.

      • Janine Booth says:

        I mostly agree, Alex, but I’d say that what you describe is oppression of autistic people not neurotypical privilege.
        I’d also say thst autism is a neurological condition rather than a developmental condition.

      • Chris says:

        Not having a particular disadvantage is not privilege. It is the bare minimum we should demand. Privilege is being able to send your kids to private school or pay an expensive accountant to get you out of doing tax. That’s what the left meant by privilege before it was poisoned by identity politics.

      • alexforshaw says:

        The dictionary definition of privilege is “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group” (OED definition). So an advantage available to a particular group is, by definition, privilege. No need to bring modern politics into it: the word entered English in the Middle Ages from Latin via French and has had its current meaning for at least a thousand years.

    • Janine Booth says:

      Chris, I don’t subscribe to the ‘privilege’ thsory, but:
      (a) Autism is not a “disease”, and it is ignorant and hostile to call it that.
      (b) Of course the major privilege in our society is class privilege, but there is also particular oppression within our society; even if NTs are not privileged, they do not face the specific, disabling disadvantage that autistic people do.

      • Chris says:

        Of course it’s a disease.

      • Janine Booth says:

        No, autism is not a disease. It is a condition. I’d suggest that when it is pointed out that you’ve made a mistake in your terminology, you check the facts and use more accurate terminology, rather than just reassert your ignorant statement.

    • autisticook says:

      Image won’t post, so I’ll just link to it.

      • dennis says:

        d relationing to other persons and the world at largeThe word ‘autism’ – I am speaking in a general sense, here – speaks of a particular constellation of ‘brain wiring differences’ that cause varying degrees and types of differences from a semimythical norm.
        At least, that is thought to be the case.
        The part that is thought to be a ‘myth’ is that ‘there is no normal’, or ‘normal is a setting on a clothes dryer’. That, unfortunately, is false.
        There is a ‘normal’. It is an image having a vast number of time-and-circumstance-variant dimensions, and it is found within the core of Instinct. There, it functions as an ultimate authority, an omnipresent guide to thought, behavior, perception, and relating to other people and the world at large.
        ‘Normal’ people – their preferred term; it speaks of a supposedly conscious choice to be as they are – have this image present from birth, and have the instincts which go with it. This determines MOST of their social behavior, and explains why so much of what they do involves little conscious effort.
        It also explains the concept of ‘in group bias’, which has previously been named as ‘neurotypical privilege’

  25. Sam says:

    I agree with everything you have said here. I don’t hate neurotypicals (most of my friends and family are neurotypicals) but I don’t much care for neurotypical conformity and I especially don’t care for the notion that if we don’t want to be cured than we are somehow being selfish or narrow-minded. Yes there are some autistic people who do want to be cured and if they want to than that’s their choice but in my experience most autistic people don’t want to be cured and that should be our choice. We are not being selfish or narrow-minded or lacking empathy by not wanting to be cured we are just protecting what we feel is important and there is nothing wrong with that neurotypicals do that all the time. I think its very selfish and unfair for neurotypicals to try and cure us when they don’t even ask us if we want to be that should be OUR choice not theirs.

  26. Susanna says:

    Have you ever considered that maybe NeuroTypical isn´t really that typical? I have thought about this lately. Maybe there are more people being diagnosed autistic because there is a hell of a lot more autistics out there and maybe neurotypicals obviously see themselves as the norm rather than the exception. They say that autistic people are self-centered and that maybe true, but neurotypicals are self-absorbed… which is way worse than being self-centered, which is natural considering that a person has to operate from a standpoint and what better standpoint than one´s own?
    Why is it so important all of a sudden that everybody socialize all the time and everybody agrees on everything all the time. Where are the freethinkers? Why is society at large so interested in “fixing” independent thinkers and labeling them sick, ill, confrontational, rebellious?
    Personally I have come to believe that the whole “autistic spectrum disorder” is french for, “let´s remove all people who could jeopardize total mass control”.
    There were times when being self sufficient and independent was praised, now it is praised to be “social” and “to conform to the norm”. What norm? The one that someone establishes.
    You are not social, then you´re weird. Why? This doesn´t make any sense to me anymore.
    I used to be obsessed to get friends and boyfriends and being social when I was younger but then I asked myself why that was. The more I thought about it the more I realized that these weren´t my personal goals at all, they were just what people around me expected of me.
    Since the day I realized this I simply gave up wasting time trying to adapt to the “neurotypical myth”. I have talked to enough NT´s to know, from experience, that what they want is to be less dependent of other people´s opinions, to be more corageous, to be more independent, to be more truthful to themselves… all the things we do with ease… and that they crave but can´t accomplish. Newsflash for every autistic person out there… most NT´s want to be like you. They panic when they are alone. Seriously. They are terrified of spending time by themselves or by not having any friends. It is not that they have good relationships… they settle for anything just to not feel the pain of loneliness. I am an extremely high functioning Aspie… found out what I really was in my 40s. I have had NT friends and acquaintances all my life. Also had students and boyfriends. They are all nuts. Tottaly fear and power-driven. If you are autistic and think you are scared, you have no idea of the kind of fear that roams in NT minds. Why do they conform, you ask? Because being in a group make them feel safe. Why do they hang around other people all the time? Because they feel safe when surrounded by other people. They´ll go to any lenghts to preserve a group, because they know that one group can be attacked by another group, and so they try always to be in the larger or more powerful group. Why do they betray? Easy… they change groups and alliances to side with those that have more power… to be safe. It´s fear…fear…fear, all day long. They are not accustomed to think through problems, so they look for someone who will lead them, protect them and tell them what to do. It´s sad really.
    My take on this is simple: Give up the autistic label. Label yourself normal and let them be the abnormal. Then… stop trying to be like them. It´s ridiculous. They are nothing to aspire to.
    Be nice to them… but do not ever waste time befriending them… they´ll turn on you as soon as they´ll spot another person who they perceive more powerful than you in any aspect that could bring them an advantage. They are not to blame for that, it´s just the way they´re wired. Tey are controlled by their fears.
    Get some good aspie or autistic friends… they are real friends, loyal people, independent people, courageous people and true individuals.

    • autisticook says:

      That’s just as dehumanising to neurotypical people as the treatment most autistic people get from others. I’m not going to adopt tactics towards others that I find distasteful and hurtful when they are leveled at me. Autistic people are individuals, just like you say in your last sentence, and just like any other individual, they have the right to be assholes who I wouldn’t want to be friends with no matter how autistic they are. I’m not going to like someone just because they’re autistic like me, or hate someone just because they’re not autistic. That’s groupthink and just as harmful as saying all autistics lack empathy. An autistic person is not automatically good just because of their neurology.

      • Nicola Prigg says:

        I agree with you autisticook.

        On Susanna’s point, I’ve thought that if autism is a spectrum then it stands to reason that you have extreme autism on one end and you go up through the scale to aspergers & HFA and then you get the NeuroTypicals or at least the NeuroAverages and then you get the overly social people on the other end.

        The other thing I’ve thought of whilst reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet is that introversion may well be the same thing as autism or at least high-functioning autism. The western world wants people to always be extroverts and therefore you get introverts thinking that there is something wrong with them because they are not as social as the extroverts.

        I think we’ve just got to learn to realise everybody is individual. And that one person is no less or more normal than anybody else. We are all normal and right for who we were meant to be.

    • dennis says:

      The ‘Norm’ you speak of is an image found within the core of Normalistic instinct, one which I call THE Archetype (using it in the sense of a ‘pattern’.) I learned recently that (as usual) I’m not the first person to speak of the matter. (Nor was C. G. Jung…)

      This image is spoken of in gnosticism, where it is refered to as the true self. While they (seemingly) speak of this image as being ‘good’, I suspect what they’re talking about and what I’ve seen are VERY different things.

      This ‘Archetype’ that I’m aware of resmbles Robert Hare’s description of a psychopath – a power-obsessed amoral predator, who sees him/her self as ‘The God’, and all other beings
      as meals, tools, and obstacles.

      This image is a VERY important portion of Neurotypical social functioning: their supposed empathy is really a matter of discerning the following: 1) is this being before me sufficiently similar to myself that IT earns the privileges I deign to grant it; and 2) does it rank the same, less, or more than myself. Based on those two discerned matters happening in the unconscious, that image is consulted (in the manner of a lookup-table) and invariably-correct socially appropriate behavior results ‘automagically’.

      No image: (i.e., if one is autistic) – one fails that test.

      Fail the ‘human’ test? One is a lesser being.

      When one is a lesser being, ‘moral disengagement’ is inevitable, with the resulting silencing of all notions of conscience on the part of the person judging you. (Assuming there WAS a conscience in the first place.)

      No conscience? Robert Hare describes that quite nicely in his book ‘Without Conscience’. Hint: these are NOT nice people…

  27. Fred says:

    Ah dear.. I’ve been going through all these posts in my email and feel the need to chime in. That Susan Cain thing is good, had a listen to her TED talk.

    Other thing I’ve been wanting to air for a while, not sure if it helps, is that homosexuality was in the DSM until 1986. The DSM is the Gospel of what is normal, where the line is drawn.. So if at a certain point in time, being gay ceased to be regarded as abnormal, there is hope for aspie’s yet ;)

    It’s all about the classification of course…

    But yeah, the “overly socially” people at the other end. I’ve hung out with a few of them. They vary a bit in how “terrified” they are about not being around people.. Some of them are cool to also be alone, but I do notice more unease in them when they don’t have a crowd around, as if a part of their being is missing.

    But yes, “we” do have a bit of an advantage in that we are often not that anxious or concerned about conformity, which can also be helpful.

    I say “we”, but I retook the online test at Wired and came out several points into the “normal” end of the range so I think I’m safe ;)

    • Rory says:

      Fred – some of the most social people I’ve ever met, have also been the most non-conformist, questioning people I’ve ever met. Worth bearing in mind.

  28. mplo says:

    Autism and ADD/ADHD are poorly understood neurological disorders that do affect brain development, not to mention social interactions, communication, the ability to process information, and the ability to relate to other people and the world around the afflicted person to some degree or other. (There are varying degrees of severity of these disorders.). There’s really no such thing as “neurotypical”, or “normal”, especially because Autism and ADD/ADHD are continuums of the norm, if one gets the drift.

  29. dee1bee says:

    Logically, mplo is absolutely correct. We are all happy little shades of human. Sadly, society has norms that in no way relate to logic! Anyone who has been ostracised, stigmatised or bullied because they fall into the “outlier” range of the “spectrum” will not even bother to accept mplo’s argument. It’s just another attempt to make us individually responsible for society’s lack of tolerance and compassion. Not everyone lives in a developed country. Some of us are still fighting for the most basic rights. We have no hope of changing society if our efforts are undermined by the logic of uniformity applied in mplo’s post.

  30. sonnolenta says:

    Reblogged this on sonnolenta… and commented:
    All of these thoughts, so relevant to my daily movement through this world. And even more so, now that my Son has begun his own Autism diagnosis journey. I spend even more time thinking about how he will navigate his own path from here, and into his future.

  31. Patricia says:

    Reblogged this on Spectrum Perspectives and commented:
    A lot of really good points here. As a non-autistic person, I do my best to be aware of all of these things. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. The attitude of “the way I am is the best way for all to be” has been a destructive path over and over again. So when we discover we’re on that path, instead of insisting it’s the place to be, we need to see where we are and then change directions.

  32. dennis says:

    The reason that none of what ‘Normal’ people do regarding us appears to make sense is that they name ALL of us as being subhuman; and when one is named subhuman by one’s betters, there are certain rules that apply to any ‘relationship’.

    Firstly, one’s betters will only hear your words when they explicity confirm their preexisting prejudices. Namely, if you wish to be heard, discern what the other person most wishes to hear (think Dale Carnegie / 48 laws of power) and tell them that AND THAT ONLY. Then, and only then, can you expect them to hear you.

    Secondly, one’s betters will act as if they have a species of psychopathy / malignant narcissism, at least in regards to you. The original poster described at length what those who see themselves as being ‘superior in all possible ways’ commonly do. Word to the wise: IGNORE WHAT THEY SAY. FOCUS UPON WHAT THEY DO – and once they’ve exibited enough observable behaviors to establish a trend, then use that to determine when they are lying.

    Chances are, you’ll see them lying a great deal. More, they will lie to YOU far more than they usually do regarding their peers and betters.

    Thirdly, remember that all Normal people are obsessed with matters of social dominance – again, as if they were narcissistic psychopaths of a strangely diluted sort. This is why I refer to the archaic-sounding terms ‘peers’ and ‘betters’ – as EVERYTHING in the Normalistic world is a function of how socially dominant one is.

    This is why Normal parents which to erase autistic children: such children are ‘Social Liabilities’ as long as they ‘Look’ autistic. (in truth, children are commonly regarded as Narcissistic Extensions – objectified tools that exist solely to make their masters and mistresses look and feel as good as possible.)

    Finally, when one is a lesser being, one must show that one knows where one lies in any given power structure. By deffinition, all autists, no matter how well their ‘manifested evil’ is hidden from their betters (which is everyone who is NOT autistic), are at the very bottom of a given hierarchy – if they are even PART of that same hierarchy.

    Most of the time, we are not a portion of society’s manifold hierarchies. That means but one thing.

    We must earn the privilege of being abused; of being exploited; of being killed for sadistic pleasure; of being erased; of being silenced – the list goes on and on. More, the Normies think this abuse to be a GREAT boon, one which we lesser beings should be thankful for – for there is no thing impossible when one is a small-g god – and ALL Normies, at least at the level of instinct, think themselves to be ‘The God’.

    They can Always hurt us more – and this belief, and all the other beliefs of Normalism – are what truly run society.

  33. […] to do lists a lot, with almost every sentence being in the same format; I think this habit started when I first wrote about neurotypical privilege back in February 2013 but can also be seen here, here, here and […]

  34. Autistica says:

    Saying someone “isn’t autistic enough” is like condemning a half white interracial person for speaking out against racism.

  35. […] I’m sick of literally greeting people with apologies because of the constant fear that I’m screwing up, that I don’t know how to comply. Everyone who knows me is sick of it, too…..   http://feministaspie.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/im-not-sick-a-rant-about-neurotypical-privilege/ […]

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