Monday, November 5, 2007

Neurotypicals as Romantic Partners (humor)

Individuals with neurotypicalism have an intense desire for love and companionship, but their sensory and cognitive limitations, their need for indirect, stereotyped, or socially acceptable communication, and the overwhelming intensity of their desires can all lead to difficulties in establishing healthy, stable relationships. An estimated 50-60% of all Neurotypical marriages end in divorce, and countless dating and cohabitation relationships fail to remain stable enough to develop into marriage.

There is some debate over whether Neurotypicals are truly capable of loving an individual, or are only able to act out social rituals and demand emotional displays and support in order to feed their need for a sense of security and connection. Many people, however, report that Neurotypicals can be loyal and caring partners, if their special communication and emotional needs are properly accommodated. Loving a Neurotypical is hard work, but if you can brave it, you may be one of the few people who can provide a genuine version of the care, support, and connection that Neurotypicals crave deep down but often only manage to superficially simulate on the surface in their broken relationships with one another.

Neurotypicals are often unable to understand another individual's need for comfort and space, due to their sensory hypo-sensitivity and strong drive for interpersonal contact. They may overwhelm their partner with excessive physical affection, sexual advances, conversation, and insistence on spending time together. The partner of the Neurotypical may be driven to wits' end trying to meet the Neurotypical's insatiable needs.

Neurotypicals also frequently fail to understand simple actions, such as continuing to stay with the partner and perform basic tasks like sex and house-cleaning, as expressions of true love. The Neurotypical often needs specific, socially popular expressions of love, like fresh flowers, the words "I love you," a surprise date on the anniversary of when the two of you started being romantically involved with one another, and excessive moaning and groaning and flattery during sex, in order to really understand that she or he is loved. To keep your Neurotypical happy, try scheduling a specific time in the day or week, or a specific date such as a birthday or anniversary, on which you will provide a specific token of love, such as flowers, moaning and flattery during sex, or the words "I love you."

Remember, however, that not all Neurotypicals respond equally well to the same stereotyped gestures of love, and that their communication impairments make it difficult at times for them to tell you exactly which gestures make them feel the most loved, because they feel that you should "just know" these things. Experiment with different gestures, and watch the Neurotypical's response.

Neurotypicals can also be extremely moody and fickle, and may respond to one gesture of love one day but not respond to the same gesture of love the next day. Remind your Neurotypical partner that it is okay to ask for what they want, and that their need to ask is not an indication that you do not love them, and do your best to accommodate your Neurotypical partner's needs of the moment.

Also be aware that the primary gesture of love that reassures a Neurotypical the most could be something entirely outside your awareness of what you are doing. Try to open communication with your Neurotypical partner in order to understand what you are doing that makes them feel loved, and how you can do it more often, or whenever the Neurotypical needs it.

Senses, Envy, and Sentience

I just recently found out that one of my internet friends, who does not identify as being on the autistic spectrum, has autistic-like sharp senses. She may have what they call "sensory integration dysfunction," or just be a "highly sensitive person." She may also be on the fringes of the autistic spectrum. I never knew that the numbers in the same column on a touchtone phone did NOT make the same sound until she gave me a link to a touchtone simulator applet to play with. 3, 6, 9, and # all sounded the same to me, and still do on an actual phone, but on the applet, playing adjacent numbers within split seconds of other, I heard the differences between the 9 and #, the 4 and 7, and other adjacent numbers in the same column for the first time.

I immediately envied her as she reported her sensory abilities. I imagine people with sharper senses to have richer and fuller inner lives than I do, assuming all else is effectively equal. What's not to envy about people being able to experience a mountain range in a piece of cloth, and a fireworks display in a flower? Obvious answer: only being able to find one shirt in the world that does not feel like a bed of nails. Still, though, I feel like I'd be willing to trade the ease of finding comfort for a world of richer sensory experience. Rich senses are not in themselves a curse. The predominance of sensory dullards like me, and our assumption that other people's senses are as dull as our own, is what makes rich senses a curse. It's society, not the sensitive person's nervous system, that's the problem.

Intellectually, I know that there's no basis to assume that either richer or poorer senses are correlated with richer or poorer consciousness, any more than there's a basis to assume that higher or lower IQ scores are correlated with richer or poorer consciousness. If sharp senses were a true measure of sentience, then sensory-typical humans would actually be less sentient than most other animals, and it would thus be unethical to perform experiments on rats and ethical to perform experiments on humans. Yet, very few sensory-typical humans with normal self-esteem would doubt their own sentience, or that of others neurologiclaly like themselves.

However, the sentience of those humans who score low on IQ tests or have severe communication problems seems to be doubted all the time, on the basis that they can't perform specific tricks that neuro-typical humans of a certain culture view as measures of a complex mind. But...couldn't they make up in inner worlds of sensory information what they lack in the ability to demonstrate math and logic? Couldn't their simple and repetitive outward behaviors be coupled with an unimaginably complex inner experience? Isn't assuming that people who can't perform certain cognitive tasks are empty inside as unfair and intellectually unfounded as my low-self-esteem-driven assumption that I am emptier inside than my HSP and neuro-atypical friends who have heightened senses?

Perhaps if the world were ruled by technologically adept dogs, sensory acuity would indeed be seen as a chief measure of sentience, and the sensory-typical human would be seen as having a dimmer sentience than a dog and treated almost as an inanimate object. All this neocortex of ours, which we see as having something to do with our sentience, may be viewed by the dogs as redundant brain material, possibly a cooling organ.

I would doubt that, say, a rock has consciousness, but anything with a central nervous system easily could.