This blog post will discuss the topic of people on the autistic spectrum being different to neurotypicals. It is true that no two people are the same, and that everyone is different to each other. However, I want to particularly focus on people on the autistic spectrum with neurodiverse behaviours being different to neurotypicals. This is because this is a big challenge that some people on the spectrum face when it comes to fitting in into society. Like all of the other blogs on autism that I write about, all views are my own and people will have different views to me. This is completely fine.
Before I explain further, I first want to clarify the definitions of the terms neurotypical and neurodiversity, as these terms have been mentioned in previous blogs and are important for this blog post as well. Neurodiversity refers to variation in the human brain in a non-pathological way such as sociability and mood. This is common for people on the autistic spectrum, and as a result they would experience the world and think differently than the majority of people. The definition of neurotypical is essentially the opposite of neurodivergent. One example of where neurodiverse behaviours occur is when it comes to routine. Some of people on the autistic spectrum highly value and are very strict when it comes to structure and routine, and would go into extremely precise details when it comes to their routine.
Having neurodiverse behaviours can make people on the autistic spectrum different to neurotypicals, which is a big challenge for people on the spectrum. The main challenge is based around struggling to fit in. Whilst some neurodiverse behaviours are positive and an asset, such as attention to detail, we are still at a stage where society looks down on neurodiverse behaviours overall. This can make people on the autistic spectrum not only feel that they don’t fit in into a neurotypical world, but that their neurodiverse behaviours aren’t accepted. This results to people on the autistic spectrum having to mask their differences just so they can fit in society. I wrote a blog on the difficulties of autism masking, which can be found here.
An important thing to talk about when it comes to this topic is the invisible aspect of it. By this, I am referring to autism masking. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, when people on the autistic spectrum feel that their neurodiverse behaviours are accepted in society then they mask these behaviours. Autism masking is invisible, and not something that other people see on the outside. This means that often people fall into the trap (mostly unintentionally) of thinking that someone that they know on the autistic spectrum has nothing to worry about and therefore say things like “You don’t seem autistic”. However, for a good number of individuals on the autistic spectrum, this is a major challenge, and something I find difficult at times as well. However, the fact that a lot of this particular challenge is invisible to others can lead to people underestimating this challenge, which can act as a barrier when it comes to people on the spectrum accessing support.
When it comes to autism acceptance, this is still an area where society falls short in in my opinion. Many people are aware that many individuals on the autistic spectrum have neurodiverse behaviours, which makes them different to neurotypicals in some aspects. However, too many people still consider neurodiverse behaviours as weird and come to the conclusion that because of these neurodiverse behaviours, people on the autistic spectrum are less able. This is because when we think of neurodiverse behaviours, the first thing that comes into our mind are things such as stimming and not making eye contact. However, neurodiverse behaviours also include positive things such as strong problem solving and attention to detail skills, and these are an asset in many situations. Reframing the mind and having the mindset that some neurodiverse behaviours can add value in society can help make individuals on the autistic spectrum feel a lot more accepted and valued in a neurotypical world. In order words, reframing the mind directly encourages autism acceptance.