Theres probably no such thing as neurotypical

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TheHaywire
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28 Jun 2010, 6:09 am

While I have massive social problems the worst part of being AS is having no sense of direction. If it wasn't for the invention of the GPS I would not be able to get around unless I had a public guide 24/7.

Lack of cognitive reasoning isn't any fun either.

Having social problems is just the easiest thing to vent about and the thing that people like to harp on. Yet it is definitely not the most difficult part of having AS. Not even close. All I want is to be able to get around without a GPS. Even for a day. I want to know where I am. I want to know what time it is. I want to recognize the objects and faces around me.



visagrunt
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28 Jun 2010, 12:45 pm

A person can only be described as "neurotypical" with respect to a specific neurological circumstance. Accordingly, neurotypicality with respect to the autism spectrum is the circumstance in which a person does not present clinically significant traits. Neurotypicality with respect to handedness is to be right hand dominant (although, within particular populations, that typicality might be different).

It is a mistake to misinterpret the word "neurotypical" to mean typical with respect to all neurological conditions.


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conundrum
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28 Jun 2010, 2:23 pm

TheHaywire wrote:
...the worst part of being AS is having no sense of direction.


DITTO. I've been this way since I was a kid. It still drives me nuts. I can navigate to a place if I've been there before several times, but just following a map is a huge undertaking (and accomplishment if I actually do it right).

I've carried a compass with me for nearly 10 years. Sometimes it helps.

TheHaywire wrote:
I want to recognize the objects and faces around me.


Objects I'm usually okay with, and I thought I was okay with faces. However, yesterday at work one of my coworkers (who didn't work that day) came through the drive-through and while I was 99% sure of her name, that wasn't "sure" enough. I'd never seen her in clothing other than her uniform before--some of you have talked about "contextual recognition" or something like that--maybe that's what happened. :oops:

These are the kinds of "symptoms" that aren't explicitly mentioned in the DSM.

Thanks, guys. Being here is really helping me understand myself a little better. :D


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CocoRock
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30 Jun 2010, 5:17 am

I agree with most of what's already been said.

When I wrote a dissertation on a subject including ASD's, I needed to define the meaning of my terminology, in the introduction. In the context of ASD's this is how I defined 'Neurotypical':

'Neurotypical (NT) – This somewhat clumsy, but nevertheless useful term has become popular as a way to quickly and efficiently refer to those who do not have an ASD. 'Neurotypical' is a slightly clumsy term because it appears to assume that all who do not have an ASD function identically and without a glitch. In other words, the term does not allow for individual variation amongst the 'non-autistic' population. It appears to suggest that people are either under, or outside of, the autistic 'umbrella'. Neither does the term acknowledge in any way, the notion that perhaps we all are on the Autistic Spectrum to a greater or lesser degree, with autism being an exaggeration of what are normal and natural human traits. However, amongst those who understand the limitations of this term, and who understand its meaning, 'neurotypical' can be used to quickly and efficiently imply 'not autistic'.' (CocoRock 2009)

Of course, had I been writing about Williams Syndrome, or Downs Syndrome, or any other syndrome, 'neurotypical' might have meant not having (Williams) Syndrome.

I think we can sometimes get a bit laid back and begin to label people either with an 'A' and an 'S', or with a 'N' followed by a 'T'.

Sometimes we might assume that NT's are confident, privileged conspirators, existing in an exclusive NT world, enlightened by social understanding and ease of communication. There is some truth in this and some untruth.

Truths are: There is some sort of clinical cut-off point between having AS or not, subjective though it can be. Those with greater social ability are likely to succeed in some areas, such as work, relationships etc. People who appear different can struggle.

Untruths are: We know ASDs are a spectrum, which blends seemlessly from severe autism, to high functioning autism to AS, to milder expressions of AS, to AS traits, to NT. Many people who are essentially 'NT' will have social difficulties, sensory differences and many of the same frustrations, heart-aches and longings as their 'aspie' counterparts. When these things happen to an 'NT', they often can only attribute it to their own character flaws and feel the embarrassment of personal failure. We all know those feelings, but it's almost like NT's sometimes need our sympathy and support, because they have no diagnosis criteria to give themreasoning to help them understand their failure wasn't entirely their fault. Even knowing you have AS, failures are tough, but imagine having no diagnosis to help carry that burden. We should be careful to avoid a 'them and us' attitude.

Second, there are many other factors that can limit an NT person. As an example, an NT person stuck in the poverty trap might never be able to attain their potential, use their skills, receive quality healthcare, go to college etc. They would be more limited perhaps than someone with AS who has enough financial freedom to take opportunities.

So, my point is, that although we know what NT means in the way we use it, we should be careful to inadvertantly use it wrongly to mean, 'That other species'. It's easy to feel they are a different species, especially when they confuse or exclude us, or don't take the time to appreciate our individual and unique personalities. We know how this feels. So we can empathise with NT's and know how it would feel if we did these things to them. As I say, we should be careful to avoid a 'them and us' attitude.

Sorry for going slightly off topic. I mean this post to be part of the discussion, not a rant. I hope it comes across alright and isn't just another newbie saying what's already been said a hundred times before.



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01 Jul 2010, 7:38 am

anbuend wrote:
Erm... wow. Actually social impairment is a side-effect, not a central aspect, of autistic differences in perception and cognition. Those differences cause other impairments too not just social ones. For instance:

I should talk for myself then. My disabilities are only in social areas. When I say social I mean language too.

anbuend wrote:
We are not "the ones". We are just some of the ones. Autistic people hardly have a monopoly on science or technology. My autistic dad worked as a technician in physics research and he worked with people of all different neurotypes -- bipolar, autistic, neurotypical, etc.

I never said anything about having a monopoly on science or the number of people working in research fields. I said the ones who bring about the technological advancements.

anbuend wrote:
Technological advancements are neutral. What makes them better, or worse, is how they are used. Human beings have a tendency to advance our technology faster than our ethics and that is hardly a purely good thing.

Electricity is neutral but it has made life better for most people hasn't it? Fire can power our houses or burn them down but in the long run I'd consider the discovery of fire to have made life better for people as a whole. Nuclear technology has probably caused more harm than it has helped but its only in its infancy, give it time and we'll see how it fares out. Thorium reactors are the next step.

anbuend wrote:
Actually the majority of people think in pictures.

Actually they do not. The majority of people have an internal dialogue which they use to think. How do you think Orwell got away with his concept of thoughtcrime being prevented by removing words from the dictionary and how do you think concepts like "language being the prison house of the mind go unchallenged". A couple of months ago I was arguing with this guy who believed it wasn't even possible to think without words
http://uphillwriting.org/2010/03/16/thi ... out-words/

anbuend wrote:
That sort of thought sounds rather more abstractified than I'd be able to handle, and I'm autistic. I'm also not all that interested. To me the deepest thoughts are the ones that come from direct experience of the world unmitigated by abstraction or contemplation. Most people have a lot of trouble understanding what I mean by this, and many who get an inkling, fear it. But "most people" includes most autistic people as well, not just nonautistic people. And that even though it's connected to my variant of autism (although that's not the only way it can happen). It's not merely outside the box, it's as if the box (abstractions, even the most "concrete" ones) never existed.

Its not actually abstract at all it is the thought of a very real possibility and the way things may be. Direct experience can be a tricky thing to interpret. We experience things but do not necessarily know what they are. Some things we experience cannot be put into words in a direct way so the next best thing is to put them into metaphors.



Last edited by SeaMonkey on 01 Jul 2010, 7:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

SeaMonkey
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01 Jul 2010, 7:44 am

anbuend wrote:
SeaMonkey wrote:
Who_Am_I wrote:
Quote:
The disabilities are only in social areas


Not true.


High functioning autistic people I'm talking about. When I say social areas I mean areas that require socializing so that often includes work and a wide range of other things too.


Still not true.

When autistic people have trouble with work or other areas that happen to involve socializing, it's not always the social aspects that give all or even most of the trouble.

I lived in a very isolated way for awhile, with my only real social contact being phone and Internet, and I still had serious problems. I doubt my starvation during that time period was caused by social problems. In fact social contact during that period made my problems less of an issue because another person could help walk me through the steps. I'm far from unique in having this kind of problem.

Alright I was wrong. I started doing everything my own way from a young age and nowadays I can survive by myself. I assumed this was a common thing among high functioning autistic people. I see that the majority of my "disabilities" stem from people perceiving me as doing things differently. I can't do things the same way other people do them and keep up with everyone else but I can keep up by doing them my own way.



ToughDiamond
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01 Jul 2010, 8:33 am

SeaMonkey wrote:
The majority of people have an internal dialogue which they use to think. How do you think Orwell got away with his concept of thoughtcrime being prevented by removing words from the dictionary and how do you think concepts like "language being the prison house of the mind go unchallenged". A couple of months ago I was arguing with this guy who believed it wasn't even possible to think without words
http://uphillwriting.org/2010/03/16/thi ... out-words/

http://www.lexrex.com/interactive/newspeakprinc.htm
Quote:
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought -- that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc -- should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.

Orwell clearly left the door open on this one.

I'm sure that my thoughts are not entirely dependent on words, though I don't doubt the value of words in clarifying my ideas. I regularly think without words, and can act on the basis of those wordless thoughts. It's hard to observe myself thinking because while it's happening my attention is immersed in the creation of those thoughts, but I know when I'm creating words and when I'm not. I can't imagine it being any different for anybody else.....nonverbal thought doesn't seem difficult to me. Chimpanzees have no verbal language (usually) but they seem to show signs of intelligent thinking. People often say that they can't put this or that idea into words, and they often struggle to find the right words to accurately express what's on their minds. How can these things be, if thought is a purely verbal process?



SeaMonkey
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01 Jul 2010, 9:09 am

ToughDiamond wrote:
I can't imagine it being any different for anybody else.....

And this is exactly where the problem lies. Most people assume that the way they think is the way everyone else thinks because they understand how it is possible to think any differently. I think completely without words and I can't really understand how words could compliment thoughts in any way. I can observe myself thinking quite easily. When it gets more complex I just use back engineering. As for evidence of people thinking non verbally the best one I'd say is deaf people. Deaf people obviously don't think in words yet they are just as intelligent as anyone else.



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01 Jul 2010, 9:55 am

Janissy wrote:
This dual use of NT is annoying.


/agree

i will say, as a non-autistic, it can be very frustrating participating in these forums. there is quite a lot of "NT bashing" that seems to go on, sometimes overt, sometimes not, sometimes merely by attributing stereotyped unflattering behavior to all NTs by generalization. by autistic standards i would be NT, however i am definitely not neurotypical nor do i exhibit the stereotypical neurotypical behaviors that are often complained about (concern with fashion, social, superficial, etc). it is a no-win situation for the majority of non-autistics.

i do think its ironic that aspies are considered to be very logical literal thinkers who say exactly what they mean. and yet, many use the term neurotypical in a completely inaccurate way. non-autistic, or NA, would be more accurate, and even uses the same exact amount of letters/symbols =)