Thoughts on neurotypical and neurodivergent people

I was participating in a lecture for autistic parents. While the presentation itself was fine enough, I responded very much to being accused of “you with profound development disturbances.” That’s what is diagnosed, but it does not match my self-understanding or my understanding of autism.

Being late diagnosed, fortunately, I did not grow up with a self-understanding as a handicapped person. I have a set of skills that I’m good at, and I have some things that I’m not so good at. But when looking at people of the majority, the neurotypicals (NTs), my analytical brain also sees both: things they are better at than me and things they are not good at.

Just because they are the majority does not necessarily mean that their neurotypical brains work optimally or that they work better than people with autism, ADD, ADHD, etc. (neurodivergents). Being part of the majority simply means that you are in a world that is suitable for you.

When you as an adult visit a kinder garden and try to participate in activities for some hours, you will notice that the tables and chairs are too small. You can sit in them, but it’s strenuous and not natural for you. When you go to the bathroom you will find that there are two toilets next to each other in the same room, without partitions, and you have to go a long way down in order to sit on them. It does not mean that you are wrong or less good, just that the surroundings are designed to cater for the needs of people who differ quite clearly from you in their needs.

It’s a bit like being neurodifferent in a NT world. If autistic people were the majority, there would be much, much less noise and light and disturbances. There wouldn’t be focus on the right rituals to greet each other. There would be no small talk or unwritten social rules. There might be well-defined social rules.

If autistic people were the majority, those with developmental disabilities would be those who had not developed logic and systematization sufficiently, those who find it difficult to see patterns and those who have an excessive need for social validation.

But as the world is right now, it is me who is called disabled. I just had not tried before being accused of a major developmental disorder. I wonder how the presenter himself would feel if it was him who got this stamp.

Thank you for your presentation. It’s always so nice to hear a person with the NT developmental disorder speak. It’s hard for you because of your less developed synaptic connections, and we must be considerate and keep eye contact and smile at you so that you do not get too insecure in a room filled with people who function differently. I hope you are aware: In this room you are the minority.

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