Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What's it like to be neurotypical?

It's not having to think about what it's like to be neurotypical. Unless you want to, just for fun. (I ripped this off from an ethnic diversity skit I saw in college, where at the end, the white person said, "What it means to be white is not having to think about what it means to be white.")

It's not even having to hear of the word neurotypical unless you end up with important autistics in your life.

It's being able to laugh at all the NT jokes on autistic websites and knowing that you don't fit all the stereotypes, while not having to worry about an autistic boss, in-law, friend, or family member assuming that you must not be capable of thinking rationally or speaking honestly because you're neurotypical, or saying in all seriousness, "You can't be neurotypical! You can hold an intelligent conversation and don't have to buy all the latest fashions."

It's wondering why your aspie boyfriend drives some of your relatives crazy, becuase you don't have to think about all the nonverbal cues and tokens of politeness that your relatives are automatically looking for and not finding. You seem to get along just fine with them...well, ok, not perfectly, but you don't seem to annoy them as much as he does.

It's being able to wear clothes with tags (well, most of the time - some tags do grate), work under fluorescent lights, eat foods of any texture, wash your hair, clip your nails, and sleep with no blanket on in the summer, all comfortably.

It's being able to fidget without it being called some specialized term which sounds like a euphemism for fidgeting with one's own unmentionables, have a passionate interest without it being called a "perseveration," participate in classes and activities without them being called "therapies," and appreciate the small beautiful things in life without being accused of being unable to see the big picture.

It's being unable to claim some glorified label that wins you nerd status points...but gleefully being able to glorify that label without realizing its full implications.

It's actually enjoying chattering about the weather with an acquaintance for a few minutes.

It's being able to let a minor conflict turn into a fascinating conversation with your Aspie boyfriend about how your minds work differently from each other, and to wonder what it would be like to think and feel the way he does, and be eager to apply this information to resolve the conflict...while your relatives still attribute most of their conflicts with him to his being spoiled and rude.

It's not having people wonder if you're biologically incapable of loving someone.

It's not seeing people like you being described in the media as an alien, ghostly, pitiful, or unsentient being, or their neurological status mentioned in news reports about crime except when a neighbor comments, "He was such a nice, friendly person. I never expected this of him."

It's seeing everyone who commits a crime being labeled "evil" and "a monster," so even if they showed no introversion, eccentricities, or signs of so-called mental disorders, you can reassure yourself - if you want to - that the criminal is not like you and that nobody has to worry about you or someone like you committing a crime.

It's living in your own little world just as much as any autistic does, without people making a big deal out of it.

It's reading in a popular neuropsych book about the prevalence of people lying to themselves, and automatically thinking of yourself as an exception, and then reading that statistics say most people think they're exceptions. And then deciding that if you do lie to yourself constantly, you're probably so deeply unaware of it that you'll probably never be able to figure out the truth anyway. And then wanting to figure out the truth because you still want to be an exception.

1 comment:

Bill Stewart said...

I have never asked myself what it would be like to be neurotypical. Your post offers some interesting insights though. It gives me something to think about.

Bill | http://www.omdlaw.com/family_law.html