Okay, there may be some hurt feelings over this post. That may not be the best way to kick this off, but I want it out there. That way, when the inevitable wad of panties occurs–and it will–no one will be able to say I didn’t warn them. What I am going to say that will piss someone off? Neurotypical and neurodivergent folks are very fucking different. And–here’s that dicey part–NTs don’t always come off so likable. Sorry, not sorry. I said what I fucking said. This may not be the easiest concept to get your head around, so I’ll use changing from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time to illustrate it (Hey, I’m not a complete asshole. Just mostly an asshole). That, boys and girls, is what we call a “hook”. Because I’m pretty sure it’s got your attention and you want to see where it’s going.
A Small Disclaimer
This was supposed to be a single post, but the more I’ve dug into it, the more shit I’ve found. And, it’s enough shit that I can’t do this topic justice in just one essay. So, there will be… multiple entries. That pause is because, at this point, I have no fucking idea how many there will actually be. So I’m just going to wing it and see where it goes. Which is how I do a lot of shit. It may work out great, it may totally suck. But we’ll find out together. Deal?
Neurotypical vs Neurodivergent: We Are Just Fucking Different
I’ve written before about how I don’t get neurotypical culture. That’s partly due to the metric fuck ton of ways that neurotypical and neurodivergent people are different. There’s just the fact that we are different; something NDs know in our bones but NTs don’t seem to get. Then we have the fact that neurotypical people are so fucking public with their lives. Or how they have zero goddamn reluctance to say whatever comes to their minds. And, there’s the way we handle empathy. It’s wildly different for NDs than NTs. All this leads to another difference between us: anxiety. In general, neurodivergent people experience anxiety at higher rates than neurotypical folks. And, these items are just the ones I came up with in a couple of days. So, like I said, this will most likely be an ongoing feature.
It’s Not Easy Being Weird
Let’s start with the biggest differences between neurodivergent and neurotypical people: NDs are aware of and acknowledge our quirks. We all have them, you know; quirks, tics, eccentricities, just general weird shit that we’ve picked along the way. NTs either aren’t aware of this fact or don’t want to admit to it. We NDs, on the other hand, embrace and celebrate our weirdness as a hallmark of who we are. We have to, if only to maintain our sanity. Most of us have tried to hide our weirdness so that we fit in. Many of us failed. Because of that failure, we are acutely aware of just how fucking different we are. Of how profoundly weird we seem to our neurotypical peers. One way to handle this trauma–and it is trauma–is to lean into the weirdness and cultivate it. The alternative is too grim to talk about.
NTs are waaaay more extra than neurodivergent folks. They splash every aspect of their lives all over social media. This forces the rest of us to acknowledge, and even partake of, the awesome that is their existence. And, when I say “every aspect”, I mean every goddamn aspect. I won’t be surprised if one of these extroverted fuckers begins posting the most intimate details of their bathroom habits. And, s disinterested as we are in your wedding, Gloria, that would pale in comparison to our feelings about how often you shit. Not that our saying so would stop you from sharing it, you hopelessly clueless, self-centered attention whore.
Okay, that may be a little over the top, but what’s not “over the top” is the fact that so many NTs think we all care about their issues with Standard Time. Cruise on over to Facebook and you’ll see a plethora of people mislaying their fecal matter over the fact that it gets dark an hour earlier. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the changeover. I do, in fact, understand that part of this ruckus. Whether we’re going from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time, it’s a pain in the ass that fucks up my internal clock for at least a week every time we do it. But, switching does have the benefit of giving everyone at least a little of what they need. Because some people like Standard Time. In my experience, though, NTs aren’t all that great at taking others’ differing needs into account.
Let Me Tell You Something
Another place where the differences between neurotypicals and neurodivergents are oh-so-obvious is how vocal we are. Especially on social media. Where NDs are usually pretty guarded, neurotypicals have no problem just blurting out whatever the fuck is on their minds at any given moment. And when neurodivergent folks do share something, they tend to pore over it intensely. We dissect it, ensure the grammar and syntax are correct, and do our best not to offend anyone. And by “anyone”, I mean anyone. I am terrified of that because I’ve spent a lifetime being misunderstood because I wrote/said something poorly. And, that’s true even if the offended party is someone I didn’t know existed until that moment.
What am I talking about? Take the Daylight Savings Time vs Standard Time “debate”. On social media, you’ll find no shortage of people whining about Standard Time. It’s usually something like this: “It’s pitch black out and it’s not even 6 pm. Bring back DST!” But, don’t we get the same amount of daylight today as we got before the time changed-give or take a few minutes? I mean, yeah, it’s happening earlier in the day. But that’s not bad. Personally, I kind of like that since I run first thing in the morning. I mean, running in the dark is doable, sure. But knowing that drivers might be able to see me while I’m out there is reassuring. I don’t say that. Not on social media and not in person. Because it might upset someone. And even the thought of that can bring on near-crippling anxiety.
Right about now, you might be saying, “But, Joel, what about NDs and their legendary impulsiveness? Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time is kind of the neurodivergent brand.” Okay, fuck you for that snobby ass comment. But, you’re not wrong, that is a thing. Not that often, though. Really, just enough to feed the stereotype that NDs are callous monsters/unfeeling robots who don’t have the social skills to function in the “normal” world. When those times do happen, it’s often because we’re tired, or overstimulated, or our emotional regulation skills have utterly failed. The difference here is that we know it, we own it, and will usually come back later and apologize. I’ve yet to see an NT do the same.
Why So Serious? And By “Serious”, I Mean “Pissed Off”
I feel like I’ve beaten up on neurotypical folks enough for one post. And, yes, I get that I come off as harsh and angry and maybe even unreasonable. But there’s a reason for that and it’s one I talk about all the time here. Basically, y’all neurotypical types piss me off. Why? Go back and read this post. But, as you do, think about the ways you’ve just assumed that everyone’s brain worked like yours. Think about the times when you’ve marginalized, belittled, or forced someone into a different way of thinking/feeling/doing/acting because you thought they were “wrong”. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll begin to get a handle on why I sound so pissed off all the time.
Letting You Down Easy. Psych!
Okay, this time I’m letting you guys off the hook for real. But not for long. Because, as I said earlier, I can’t cover all this shit in just one post. That means, unless something more pressing comes along, you’re going to get another dose next week. Again, sorry, not sorry. This shit needs to be said and I’m gonna say it. And, who knows, y’all might even listen.
Also, neurodivergent folks, if there’s something I’m not talking about that you think I should, drop a comment, send me an email, or hit me up on social media. This is for all of us and I want to hear from you.