When I was a kid, almost every teacher I had told my parents, “He has so much potential. If he would only apply himself.” My parents thought that meant I was just lazy and didn’t want to work. Saying that things didn’t go well after a meeting where that shit was thrown out is an understatement. There were a metric fuck ton of “solutions” attempted to address this failure to live up to my potential/laziness. And, they were all about as effective as you can imagine. Because my problem wasn’t laziness or even demonic possession (yes, that actually came up). Hell, it wasn’t even that I’m neurodivergent (which never came up). The problem was that the system I was forced into didn’t take into account the way my brain works and all the neurotypical adults who were supposed to be there for me were fucking clueless about that.
Utter Fucking Failure
My working-class parents, with their high school education, can be forgiven for not understanding what the fuck was up with me. They just didn’t have the knowledge. I can’t say the same for the teachers and guidance counselors who didn’t even attempt to suss out why I had so much trouble fulfilling that rich potential. Literally, they didn’t do shit to figure it out. Apparently, it just never fucking occurred to them that there might be some goddamn reason why I struggled. I wish I could say this was a one-off, that it was just me who went through this. Unfortunately, however, it is not. Being failed by almost every goddamn adult in their lives is an extraordinarily common theme among NDs. Sadly, it doesn’t get much better as you get older.
Neurotypical Cluelessness Abounds
Not long ago, I started following @neurodivergentrebel on Instagram and other sites. They recently posted something that really resonated with me. They said, “Neurodivergence, for me, is constantly being told by people whose brains are unlike mine, that my best is never enough, I need to try harder to be more like them, and learn how to do things their way.” I feel that. Like, hard. Attitudes have begun to oh-so-fucking-slowly change, but it’s still a problem. I’ve come to realize that, like most things, it’s about control. People don’t like things that they don’t understand and tend to address that dislike by giving into the all too human urge to force square pegs into round holes. Sometimes it’s overt and shitty, others it’s just that neurotypical cluelessness that abounds.
The Ignorance, Is It Willful or Accidental?
There is a degree of ignorance about neurodiversity among neurotypical folks that is just fucking amazing in scope. And, I often wonder how much of it is willful and how much is accidental. I want to believe it’s accidental but it’s hard sometimes what with the way NTs go out of their way to avoid dealing with neurodivergent folks. If you were to ask me how much is willful versus accidental, I’m not sure I could tell you. On my more pessimistic days, I’d say it’s not 50-50 and the split does not favor the neurotypical community. But, when I’m feeling magnanimous, I figure the majority of NTs just don’t fucking know. They are, as I’ve said several times in this piece, clueless. A lot of them don’t even seem to know that they don’t know.
It May Not Be Malicious, But It Still Sucks
A lot of neurotypical folks–a fuck ton more than there should be if you ask me–are pretty much ignorant of the fact that neurodiversity is even a thing. If you said that word to them, they wouldn’t know what the fuck you were talking about. And, if that’s you and you’re wondering about it right now, google that shit. I don’t have the time, or the inclination, to hold your hand at the moment. But the thing is, when NTs do know anything, it’s usually bullshit like the idea that all autistics are like the ones in the movies–like Rain Man or What’s Eating Gilbert Grape–or that everyone with ADHD is hyperactive as fuck. And yeah, that’s kind of fucking awful but at least it’s not as malicious as some of the shit NDs have to deal with.
Neurotypical Cluelessness: I Am So Fucking Over It
One of the things I admire about the LGBTQ+ rights movement is the defiant visibility it has pushed. It’s in the chant, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” I’ve thought about tweaking it to fit the neurodivergent struggle for recognition and acceptance. Something like, “We’re here, we’re weird, and we ain’t goin’ anywhere!” But it stops short of what we need, so it wouldn’t really work for us. It worked for LGBTQ+ folks, though. Why? Because they experience the world in a way that’s close enough to the straight experience that nothing else was needed. Apparently, however, the neurodivergent experience is so fucking far removed from neurotypicals that not only do they not understand it, they don’t even want to make the effort to understand it.
We’re Here, We’re Weird, and We Ain’t Goin’ Anywhere
Okay, as usual, I’ve used a lot of words to say something relatively simple: neurotypical cluelessness is a whole thing. And, I’m pretty much fucking done with it. I’m tired of having to explain shit that should be fucking plain to see. And, if you don’t understand something, that’s what the goddamn internet is for. Consult the oracle and learn a little bit. If you still can’t understand it, you can talk one of us NDs. But please don’t expect us to do all the work for you. In short, get your shit together, neurotypicals, and figure it the fuck out. Because we’re here, we’re weird, and we ain’t goin’ anywhere.