I hate the term "neurotypical "

I've always had a lesion in my brain and I've had epilepsy for as long as I can remember, so I was pretty neuro atypical long before I got this autism diagnosis as an adult just one or two years ago. I don't think you can say that someone you never met and know nothing about is "neurotypical" It's just a complete assumption and it's rude. 

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  • I also hate the term. It is used in the Autistic Community to describe the other 99% of the world, and it is language that is drilled into people from diagnosis, or childhood by people from all angles of the community. I don't like it at all. I've been in Autistic Workshops and called out the people thrusting it down peoples throats.

    My main problem with it is that it creates a "them and us" dynamic. Which instantly puts up a barrier. Not good for either side. If you are taught to see 99% of the world as outsiders, how is your mindset supposed to develop towards them. If we expect people to understand us, and just label them as "neurotypicals", everytime something doesn't go right, we fall into the trap of seeing the whole world as part of the problem. People do it here, I see it regularly. I use the term occasionally, but never in a derogatory way (find a post, if anyone can dispute it), and when I do I put it in quotation marks because I don't like the default definition that the "autistic lexicon" expresses.

    It is used in a derogatory term here, regularly. To be frank, if I was reading some of the posts, I'd find it pretty offensive if I was "neurotypical". It makes us look bad, in my opinion. If we expect them to understand us, we need some sort of healthy dialogue, that is beneficial to us all. Obviously there are people that don't want the dialogue on either side, that's their choice, but they reap what they sow.

    If someone is a ***, they are just that, and it's not because they are "neurotypical". It's lazy, and to be frank, childish, in my opinion. I've had the *** kicked out of me, been stabbed, gassed, expelled, sacked, been called "loony", a "mong", and blah, blah, blah. I just blamed the individuals, and addressed them, not the whole of "neurotypical" society. Guess what too, sometimes it was my fault. I was a nightmare for part of my life. When things didn't work out my way, I didn't blame "neurotypicals", I had to have a hard look at myself sometimes.

    I don't really blame anyone here, and who am I to anyway. They have this language drilled into them, and it's frankly cult-like, in some scenarios. But....some people welcome it with open arms in my opinion, they want to be "the other", an outsider, a misanthrope, a nihilist, and narcissistic. I've met a couple. They are free to, but misery loves company, people with bright outlooks, and no hangups end up getting sucked in.

    I don't have a problem with the use of the term, it's how the way it's part of the culture, even by non-autistics working in autism, as a derogatory term, and a boogeyman. I don't think it's healthy for a young person to be given this outlook by adults who are teaching them to navigate an already tough world. As for adults who get a late diagnosis, it throws up a lot of questions regarding past traumas. I think that it can have an affect where it can make people see everything as an enemy, that is to non-autistic, or not part of the Autistic Community.

    I'm not telling people not to use it, and I'm not attacking anyone. We've all had a hard path, some harder than others. The thing I'm trying to say is we should try and think about the whole dynamic, not just the word. Dialogue works both ways, and we can't just slap the "NT" label on everything, just as we don't want a label slapped on us. I think people which uses of "neurotypical" I'm talking about. I get it, some "NT's" are no angels, far from it, but the same applies to us.

    Right, I'm ready to be called a heretic, but just ponder some of my points.

  • If you are taught to see 99% of the world as outsiders, how is your mindset supposed to develop towards them.

    I thought it was the other way around - that the 99% saw people with neurodiversity as outsiders.  Maybe we make outsiders of ourselves in many ways.  I think, as I said, that the problem is that many, many people - myself included - have had whole lifetimes of not understanding why we had problems doing what other people seemed to be able to do with ease.  This seriously started to do my head in once I hit my thirties.  Wherever I'd been and whatever I'd done up until then, I'd felt like I was being rejected or marginalised by others - starting very much with the bullying throughout my school years.  I tried all sorts of ways of developing relationships with others.  It never seemed to work.  In my early 30s, my depressions started.  I began almost to feel that there was a conspiracy going on.  Other people had friends.  Other people had relationships.  Not me.  What was the secret that they weren't letting me in on?  For quite a long while, I did see things very much as 'me... and everyone else.'  Other people, throughout my life, had seemed either indifferent towards me at best, and hostile towards me at worst.  There wasn't really anyone, apart from my mother, whom I felt could go to, trust, get emotional support from.

    When I got my diagnosis, and found out I was neurodiverse, and that I was in a very small minority, and that the majority were neurotypical... then it began to make sense to me.  It was a helpful way of enabling me to understand why I was 'different': I was neurodiverse, they were neurotypical.  Now, I know I've said my things about 'neurotypicals' and their behaviour as much as many other people have.  But the truth is that I do try - as you say - to think about the whole dynamic: to see humans, not sub-categories.  Every one of us is different - old, young, heterosexual, homosexual, black, white, male, female, non-binary, neurodiverse, neurotypical.  Maybe I don't always make a good job of that.  Maybe it's just too easy to find something to blame - and then to find a label to stick on it.  It is wrong, though.  It's as wrong as people making assumptions about others based on race, beliefs, appearance and so on.  Prejudice.  And what's the source of that?  Ignorance.  And where does it lead?  Fights, wars, bloodshed.

    I see the point you and others are making - and yes, I can see why people would dislike the term 'neurotypical'.  I'm sorry for getting hot under the collar about it.  I try not to see it as a term of abuse, but as a way of understanding the distinction between autistic and non-autistic neurology.  Yes, though - I admit that I have used it myself to lump other people together as a way of explaining the difficulties I've had.  And that's wrong.

    I'm not a misanthrope.  I try to be all-embracing.  I try not to make judgments.  One of the reasons I disengaged from political groups - in real life and on social media - is because of the tendency always to set up 'them and us' positions.  I don't want to have any part of that.  But sometimes I let the guard slip, I admit.  And I don't like that part of me especially.  I'm work in progress.

  • My comment wasn't about you Tom, I was explaining my position about the whole "neurotypical" issue that the OP had raised. It was about the issue as a whole.

    I thought it was the other way around - that the 99% saw people with neurodiversity as outsiders. 

    I don't believe so. I have heard the same mindset, in both real life, and online, where people are more than glad to see "neurotypicals" as the outside. It depends how you personally decide to view it. I've actually sat in workshops with other autistics who have got pissed off at the whole dynamic being pushed down their throats. I've actually seen a non-autistic worker get frustrated at a guy who told her he didn't want to think like that, she couldn't accept his view that "My wife, kids, family, and friends are "NT", and they aren't a problem". She kept telling him "but they can never truly understand you". There were young adults there, who were basically happy with "NT's", but we were all "wrongthinkers".

    It's their choice to see us as outsiders, as it is also ours to see them as such.

    Maybe we make outsiders of ourselves in many ways.

    If they make us outsiders that's wrong, but if we choose to be outsiders, that's our choice. There's being forced out, and shunned, but there's also choosing to be an outsider. I think you are making it sound like "we bring it on ourselves", I personally disagree.

    I think, as I said, that the problem is that many, many people - myself included - have had whole lifetimes of not understanding why we had problems doing what other people seemed to be able to do with ease.

    Myself included. It's drove me to dark places. It's driven a lot of us there.

    This seriously started to do my head in once I hit my thirties.

    I was first in a shrinks office at 13. First sectioned in my twenties, we've all had problems with different things. My experiences don't trump anyone elses though, bad is bad. For me it's my senses more than anything that gets me down. 

    When I got my diagnosis, and found out I was neurodiverse, and that I was in a very small minority, and that the majority were neurotypical... then it began to make sense to me.  It was a helpful way of enabling me to understand why I was 'different': I was neurodiverse, they were neurotypical.

    That's sort of setting yourself up for the dynamic of "them and us". Especially with the narrative in the Autistic Community. I thought kind of like it at first, I had an answer, my diagnosis, but some of the stuff that I started to buy into was bullshit, in my opinion. All of my woes weren't down to a "neurotypical boogeyman", they were down to a condition, that now I understand it, I have some form of control over. I'm autistic, it doesn't make me that special, I don't care if I am either. I'm the same person I've always been. At a push, and correct me if I'm wrong, maybe you like being "different", there's nothing wrong with that if it helps you.

    I see the point you and others are making - and yes, I can see why people would dislike the term 'neurotypical'.  I'm sorry for getting hot under the collar about it.

    No-one's getting at one another here, this is a discussion that I feel needs to be had. I think the fact you are discussing it helps. I didn't see you getting hot under the collar.

    Yes, though - I admit that I have used it myself to lump other people together as a way of explaining the difficulties I've had.  And that's wrong.

    I've punched people square in the face when I've faced difficulties, probably much worse than name calling, but that was when I wasn't diagnosed, plus, quite a long time ago. I've found that since my diagnosis it's been easier to face the difficulties, I can rationalise it, and when needed help others rationalise it.

    I'm not a misanthrope.

    No-one said you were.

    I'm work in progress.

    We all are. A life without challenge, either from ourselves or others, isn't a life worth living. I don't call people "neurotypicals" in the context we are speaking about, but I do use the word *** a lot. It's a good job it gets censored here.

    I think in my opinion, with those of us that can communicate well, the need for us to be ready to engage in a dialogue with non-autistics, and not think "neurotypical ***" will help people who are autistic. A lot of our troubles boil down to awareness, not evil "neurotypicals" conspiring against us. The more we can explain things, and make changes, the better the situation will be for us and the following generations of autistics will be. Things are a struggle, but with an open dialogue, they can improve, in my opinion.

    This isn't about you, me, or anyone that posts here, it's about the whole Autistic Community. I'm just giving my input on the OP's post, and addressing your reply to me though too, as and where relevant. I just think that if there's changes to be made, it's best we add to the dialogue, and all the better if "neurotypicals" are part of it.

  • Thanks for making those points, Cloudy Mountains.  There's a lot of sense in what you say.

    If they make us outsiders that's wrong, but if we choose to be outsiders, that's our choice.

    Yes.  And I've often found - most especially in the workplace - that I've tended to be marginalised in groups.  I'm okay with, say, 3 or 4 other people: still part of the conversational centre of gravity.  Once it gets up to 6 or 7, I just feel myself being sidelined.  Once it gets above 8 or 9, I'm no longer there.  This has happened to me time and time again, and I never understood why.  People get along with me and seem to like me - individually.  But for some reason, once a group forms, I'm no longer a part.  I'll join in with observations and responses, and people with take notice... but then they're back to one another again.  It's quite strange.  It's partly why I had problems in younger life - because I didn't understand what was going on.  What was wrong with me.  If it is connected to my condition, I'd be interested to understand why.  It could be eye contact, the fact that I often go off at wild tangents - or simply that I don't 'get' the group social dynamic.  And sure, yes, we can choose to be outsiders.  That's really what I meant by 'bring it on ourselves' - not really the right way to express it.

    That's sort of setting yourself up for the dynamic of "them and us". Especially with the narrative in the Autistic Community. I thought kind of like it at first, I had an answer, my diagnosis, but some of the stuff that I started to buy into was bullshit, in my opinion. All of my woes weren't down to a "neurotypical boogeyman", they were down to a condition, that now I understand it, I have some form of control over. I'm autistic, it doesn't make me that special, I don't care if I am either. I'm the same person I've always been. At a push, and correct me if I'm wrong, maybe you like being "different", there's nothing wrong with that if it helps you.

    I agree.  And I did think that way for a long time.  The diagnosis was so important.  It enabled me to make sense of so much (though, as I said, not everything is clear yet).  I don't think of myself as special either, and I am pretty much as I've always been.  But if I'm perfectly honest, I do feel a strong sense of 'difference'.  I can't really help that.  I have a neurological condition that a very small minority of people have, and because of it I perceive and respond to things in a different way - in a way, you might say, that makes me seem 'odd' to a lot of people.  I think I mentioned once before that from way back, probably from my early teens and up until I got my diagnosis, I had this very strong sense that people were saying 'He's a funny lad!' behind my back.  Hah!  It was just always there.  So perhaps, in a sense, I had brought some things on myself.  I had this mindset that I was a strange person.  That I wasn't like anyone else.  And I didn't like it.  It gave me a lot of grief, and - as you said - drove me to some dark places.  So when I got the diagnosis, I embraced it.  It enabled me to feel better about myself in many ways.  Daft though it might sound, I was proud of my autism.  And I still feel that way.  And if that's what it means to 'like being different', then I guess that I do.  I think I'll never shake that off.  I know some people who've had the diagnosis are like 'Oh well... so what?  I'll just carry on as normal.'  In some ways, I wish I could be like that.  Maybe I haven't fully come to terms with it yet. You don't have to define your life by your condition, I know - and I suppose, honestly again, that I do.  It's become the big thing in my life.  Maybe I should try not to think so much that way.  Again, I don't think I can really help it. 

    No-one said you were.

    No, I know - and I realised later that it would sound like someone had accused me.  I saw you'd used the word earlier.  It was just an observation about myself.

    I think in my opinion, with those of us that can communicate well, the need for us to be ready to engage in a dialogue with non-autistics, and not think "neurotypical ***" will help people who are autistic. A lot of our troubles boil down to awareness, not evil "neurotypicals" conspiring against us. The more we can explain things, and make changes, the better the situation will be for us and the following generations of autistics will be. Things are a struggle, but with an open dialogue, they can improve, in my opinion.

    Better jaw-jaw than war-war!  I really do agree.  I wrote some things for other staff to see when I was in my last job - to try to help them to understand how an autistic person views the world.  There does need to be a proper dialogue, you're right.  Understanding is crucial.  It's sad to keep reading about how people are struggling in the workplace and in relationships.  Not getting reasonable adjustments, and so on.  Being told, essentially, to put up or get out.  In that way, it's hardly surprising that people develop a 'them and us' mindset.  I look forward to a day when there is greater understanding and acceptance.  Sadly, though we've come a long way, the experiences we have and read about show that there's still a long way to go.  Dialogue is, by definition, a two-way thing.  People need to want to understand.

  • And I've often found - most especially in the workplace - that I've tended to be marginalised in groups.  I'm okay with, say, 3 or 4 other people: still part of the conversational centre of gravity.  Once it gets up to 6 or 7, I just feel myself being sidelined.  Once it gets above 8 or 9, I'm no longer there.  This has happened to me time and time again, and I never understood why.  People get along with me and seem to like me - individually.  But for some reason, once a group forms, I'm no longer a part.  I'll join in with observations and responses, and people with take notice... but then they're back to one another again.  It's quite strange.  It's partly why I had problems in younger life - because I didn't understand what was going on.  What was wrong with me.  If it is connected to my condition, I'd be interested to understand why.  It could be eye contact, the fact that I often go off at wild tangents - or simply that I don't 'get' the group social dynamic.  And sure, yes, we can choose to be outsiders.  That's really what I meant by 'bring it on ourselves' - not really the right way to express it.

    Yes - I've found that too. Exactly the same experience.

    I'm going to a meetup this afternoon - I'll be there early because I need to get a couple of things beforehand so I'll be amongst the small number to start with - but there's supposed to be 18 people going - I wonder how long it will take before I don't exist?

  • It really came home to me when I first went to work on a summer camp in the US while I was at uni.  People went there from all over the world and arrived in dribs and drabs in the weeks leading up to the start of camp.  I was one of the earlier arrivals, and as new people arrived they tended to gravitate to me as one of the 'old hands'.  I could show them around, etc.  I formed a few friendships over a couple of weeks, which felt good.  Bear in mind - hardly anyone knew anyone else.  Most people arrived alone.

    Move on a couple more weeks... and the people who'd seemed to be forming friendships with me gradually drifted off to others.  By about the sixth week,  everyone had groups of friends, and I was alone again.  I was still friendly with individuals, but not part of their social system.

    That's how it's always been!

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