Neurodivergent. I Kinda Like That…

Given last Friday’s announcement of the new RJsCorner, where one of my life goals is now to raise the awareness of how people with autism might think differently than most, we are in most respects very much the same as everyone else. To accomplish that I need an uncomplicated moniker for autism that hasn’t been already blemished by too many common misunderstandings.

I know the scientific community is trying to eliminate the term “Aspie/Aspergers”, and replace it with the generic term autism. Click here if you want to see a previous post about that. I know they are also trying to classify the level of autism severity by giving it a number, but I doubt that will make much difference to the layperson. Autism is autism to them, and that is generally perceived as a young child sitting in a corner babbling and twitching. Yes, that level of autism exists but the vast majority of us on the spectrum are quite different from that perceived vision.

Neurodivergent word cloud on a white background.

Maybe it is time to put the “autism” back into the professionals’ dictionary, and name this neurological characteristic with another word? Neurodivergent kinda rings with me, but someone needs to come up with a shorter tag as Aspie for Aspergers did. From my search on this topic, I found that neurodivergent certainly has lots of neat graphics. ๐Ÿฅธ But then again, Neurodivergent does have kind of a dark ring to it, and probably includes too wide a range for my purposes, and it is much too complicated for those who need to know that the autism spectrum is broad indeed, but not infinite.

I kinda liked the term “Aspie” for my version of autism, so maybe I will just keep using that for now. It wouldn’t be the first time I want against the established experts. Just look at my many posts on RedLetterLiving to see evidence of that!

Maybe I’ll just keep calling myself a Deaf Aspie at least for now. It has a nice ring to it.

4 thoughts on “Neurodivergent. I Kinda Like That…

  1. My two independent, informal diagnosis of “autism, most likely Aspergers” came a psychologist and a mental health professional. Both advised against a formal diagnosis because it would provide no benefits and the stigma attached to autism extends into the medical profession and social services. So for many years I identified with “Aspie”. Today I prefer to use “neurodivergent” or simply “ND”, and occasionally “autist”.

    My objection to using “Aspie” is because it refers to how one is perceived by the non-autistic world. It describes a set of “symptoms” whereas I now look at what all ND people have in common. Regardless of how autism manifests itself, we share much in common especially how we perceive the world and experience it. We vary much more in how we are able to respond to that world. That’s also why I dislike terms such as “high functioning” and “low functioning”. It writes some people off as being “less fully human” than others.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Barry. I can certainly see where you are coming from. But, I guess I am approaching this post in a different direction. Yes, several of the characteristics are common among most people with autism.

      I am mainly concerned that the things that the layman learns about autism is that most die by the age of 40, Half will never hold a productive job, and many are on some form of lifelong welfare. Those are all negative things that are attached to the label ASD. I think people need to understand that there are people with autism that don’t fit those labels.

      I have come to recognize that many of my successes in the career world were due to other autistic traits. My ability to turn off all the distractions that NT are plagued with and focus 100%. Also, my ability to see things in data that most don’t see. Another is my intellect, I have an IQ of 135, and I think a big part of that is from my autism.

      We just need to make NTs understand that there are positive sides to thinking differently, not everything is negative. There are high-functioning adults who contribute more than their share to humanity.

      For some of us there are more positive than negative sides to our autism. Don’t put us all in the same pool as the researchers seem to want to do.

      I am not trying to put down those on the deep end of the spectrum, I just want people to understand that there are positives. ASD is defined as a “Disorder” implying that it needs fixing. I don’t need fixing. I am happy with the way I am, but I hate the image that many NTs immediately label me when I tell them I am on the spectrum. Maybe I should just say “my brain is wired differently than most”.

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      1. I have mo idea what my IQ might be now, but when I was much younger it was measured at 140, but as we all know, IQ tests have their limitations. If you compare an IQ bell curve for ND and NT folk, you’ll see that the ND curve is much flatter – lower in the middle and higher at both ends compared to NT, but the average IQ of both groups is about the same.

        The problems you raise in the second paragraph are not so much because of autism, but because of the way society responds to autistic people. In this country, 80% of autistics are unemployed (national average 4%) and they have a suicide rate 9 times the national average. Even worse, female autistics have a suicide rate 35 time the national average for females. It’s not because they are unemployable or intrinsically depressed, it’s because of how the NT world responds to us and treats us.

        While it’s true that I was able to hide my autistic traits better than many, and my income put me into the top 3% nationally, it was at a cost. By the time I was 50 I was suffering from autistic burnout and was forced into early retirement. It took me more than 10 years to unlearn my masking techniques. Ultimately they were unhealthy. Yet even 22 years later, I still find I put on the “normal mask” from time to time.

        But if I had never learnt masking techniques as a 20 year old, I believe I would be amongst the ranks of the 80% unemployed autistics, and what’s even worse, I would have been denied the autonomy that so many folk with disabilities are denied, whether that’s because of autism or a different condition.

        Researchers who are not autistic aren’t really interested in advantages. They view all differences as being deficits. Recent research showed that autistics are significantly more moral than NTs (or as the researchers labelled them, healthy individuals). The fact that autistics will hold true to their moral values even when it might disadvantage them socially or materially was described as a “deficit”. And whereas significantly more NTs would break their moral code for social or material gain if they thought they wouldn’t get caught, there was no change with autistics. Again this was described as a “deficit” and given as another example of autistics lacking “theory of mind”. Really?

        I agree that autism isn’t a disorder even though percentage wise autistics have more disabilities and, yes, disorders, than NTs. Numerically, there are more NTs than NDs with those disabilities and disorders, and research should center around those disorders rather than around “fixing” autism. This is why I avoid the word “diagnosis” whenever I discuss neurodiversity with NTs. My take on neurodiversity is that it’s term used to describe a natural neurological variation that affects the way sensory input is processed and interpreted, and how the individual responds to those processes.

        Interesting discussion. I think we’re both on the same ground as to what autism is, but I think we might differ significantly in how we should respond to the NT view of autism. Possibly coming at it from different angles might reach more people than if it was presented from a single perspective ๐Ÿ™‚

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        1. Yeah, I think we are talking about the same thing but are looking for solutions to different problems. To me, it is about convincing the NT world that NDs should not be considered “them”, but instead “us”. The sooner we quit labeling people to their deficit the sooner we manage to compliment each other’s capabilities and contributions. I see it estimated that NDs are about 1-2% of the population. My goal it to get the other 98% to recognize us for our contributions, not for our deficiencies. That is not fitting it but asking for understanding.

          Interesting conversation, indeed…

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