Diversity, if you listen to certain people, seems to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing. But, it’s not. Diversity is actually one of the things that makes this country great. Well, maybe not great but not totally sucky either. Think about all the shit invented/introduced by people who were not white and not male. Now, you’ve probably heard this argument before applied to things like race, ethnicity, and similar shit. But something that’s often left out of that conversation is neurodivergence. And, it shouldn’t be. I mean, you’re only reading this because a (probably) autistic man — Alan Turing — helped lay the groundwork for modern computing. So let’s talk about how diversity, particularly neurodiversity, is advantageous for society.
You Probably Already Know This, But…
Okay, by now, you all know I have a thing for definitions. So, let’s start with a definition of neurodiversity. Psychology Today says that this is ” the idea that neurological differences, such as those seen in autism or ADHD, reflect normal variations in brain development.” Which is a lot of words to say different brains work in different ways. Neurodivergent brains may not be great at handling what society deems “normal” but they can run rings around neurotypical brains when it comes to things like pattern recognition, spatial reasoning, etc. We also are the ones crazy enough to speak up when shit doesn’t make sense. Not because we’re brave or any of that shit. We do it because we can’t just let something obscure/ridiculous/fucking stupid go. And, if you don’t confront the stupid shit, it keeps being stupid shit.
I’m a Prophet???
The downside to the neurodivergent urge to ask questions and call out bullshit is that it does not endear us to our neurotypical brothers and sisters. Making people confront their bullshit is not a strategy to win friends and influence people. I get that. But it shouldn’t mean that our contributions get ignored. Sometimes, somebody has to be the “bad guy”, the one who points out that the emperor’s not wearing anything. Jesus said once that a prophet isn’t welcome in their own hometown and I can vouch for that. More than once, I’ve made what I thought was an offhand remark about the way something was being handled and ended up pissing off a significant portion of what I thought of friends, family, or people I was in community with. I will admit, however, that calling me a “prophet” is stretching things to the fucking limit.
Diversity is, Apparently, Very Fucking Scary
Oddly, diversity seems to goddamn terrify all the “normal” people. And, by “normal”, I mean white, straight, cisgender, and neurotypical. I say that because an ungodly amount of fear is the only thing I can think of that could bring the reactions I’m seeing these days. So far, all the MAGA bullshit is aimed at drag queens, trans folks, and women. And, while a lot of those being targeted right now are NDs, they haven’t come after us specifically. That will change once they figure out our potential to upset their shitty little, fascist apple cart. Authoritarians have a long history of fucking with neurodivergent folks and however bad you think it is, it’s fucking worse.
Is Neurodiversity Really Advantageous?
So, where does this leave us? Honestly, I don’t know. I would fucking love to believe that a sustained campaign of awareness about the benefits of diversity would get people on board. Then, we could move forward, using everyone’s talents/abilities to make the world better for all of us. But, I’ve been alive — and neurodivergent — long enough to know that’s a goddamn pipe dream. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in being alive and AuDHD for almost 62 years, it’s that awareness campaigns rarely bear the kind of fruit we need in this situation. Why? Because people are assbadgers — collectively, I mean — who love taking a long wet shart on change unless it doesn’t cost them anything. This tells me the arc of the moral universe doesn’t bend toward justice, it follows the path of least resistance.
The Possibility of Change Is Out There. Maybe.
Yeah, all that shit I just said is one hell of a downer, which is not the best way to end one of these things. Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I think it’s unlikely that I’ll see significant acceptance of any kind of diversity during my lifetime. I suppose I could be wrong, though. Not about the timeline; that feels pretty fucking solid. More about the possibility of change. So, I guess I’ll keep beating this drum in the hopes that my kids, or more likely my grandkids, will get to live in a society that doesn’t see them as “others”, a freak, or any of the other horribly shitty things people like to call those who dare to be different. The odds are long, sure. But I’ve got to think this fight is worth the effort.