If Aspies were NTs and NTs were Aspies....

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Joe90
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27 Mar 2011, 8:40 am

I think there's another thread just like this - I've seen it before on WP, but I've typed in the search box different ways of how the same title can be put, and it still hadn't come up with it, so I'm guessing perhaps it was a little different from what I'm thinking. Anyway, if it did exist, it's probably an old thread anyway, and I get criticised that I'm ''posting on a thread what's X amount of years old'', as though it's against some sort of rule, so I thought I'd start a new.

I've always been thinking - what if the Autism spectrum was the standard majority of the population, and ''neurotypical'' meant a disability? What would life be like? I look at one of my cousins, and she's a very ''typical'' NT, and sometimes I imagine what it'd be like if she was, like, the only NT out of the family and her college (except for just a few others here and there), and everybody else were Aspies.

This thread can be quite a mind-teaser, since there are loads more diversities than just Autism, like Alzheimer's, Down's Syndrome, Soto's Syndrome, ect. But let's just use our imaginations and pretend that all disabilities is ''normal'' (or whatever the more proper word is), and NTs are the, you know. (I can't explain this properly).

Then again, if the world was like that, then Autism and other neurological conditions would be called NT, and ''the NTs'' would be the neurodiversity.


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27 Mar 2011, 10:18 am

Oh, now I'm the most neurotypical.

I don't get it.


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Joe90
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27 Mar 2011, 10:19 am

This thread is just a joke! Just a discussion about what would life be if it were the other way round?


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anbuend
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27 Mar 2011, 10:30 am

I am pretty sure that in that situation, those now considered NT would be considered disabled. Because likely society would be planned around the needs of autistic people (so we wouldn't be disabled), but not around the needs of nonautistic people (so they would be disabled). What exact form that would take is really difficult to imagine. I imagine that the painful parts of being autistic would just be considered one of the unpleasant but inevitable parts of life (just as the painful parts about being NT are considered that now), while the painful parts about being NT would be considered unusual and tragic. NTs would also develop a whole secondary set of traits they don't have now, because they would be living as a minority, and autistic people would lack the secondary set of traits we have as a result of that.

Lacking those extra traits caused by growing up different, might mean that autistic people would look very different in that world, possibly for instance being more social because we wouldn't be experiencing quite as much social failure that turns a lot of us away from being social even if we'd otherwise be that way. The world would be set up to handle our weak points (whichever ones continued into that world), in all kinds of ways I can barely imagine.

I should note that I have seen something similar on a small scale. Be aware that these small-scale situations cannot be exactly like it would be, because everyone in the situation I was about to describe had grown up in a society where autistic people were the minority. But still, it provided a really interesting set of observations. These things happened during events that were attended by far more autistic people than nonautistic people. While autistic people still had trouble with some things, other things were much easier because everyone was planning for them. Meanwhile, nonautistic people... were becoming noticeably flustered, socially awkward, and upset by being in the minority socially and otherwise. They had real trouble getting used to that environment and the very different norms. Some of them started showing signs of extreme stress, one of them even had a meltdown of sorts. It was very interesting to watch.


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27 Mar 2011, 10:41 am

anbuend wrote:
I should note that I have seen something similar on a small scale. Be aware that these small-scale situations cannot be exactly like it would be, because everyone in the situation I was about to describe had grown up in a society where autistic people were the minority. But still, it provided a really interesting set of observations. These things happened during events that were attended by far more autistic people than nonautistic people. While autistic people still had trouble with some things, other things were much easier because everyone was planning for them. Meanwhile, nonautistic people... were becoming noticeably flustered, socially awkward, and upset by being in the minority socially and otherwise. They had real trouble getting used to that environment and the very different norms. Some of them started showing signs of extreme stress, one of them even had a meltdown of sorts. It was very interesting to watch.

That's interesting. I have also noticed that when my mother is in a conversation with me and some autistic friends, she starts second guessing everything she says and becomes very self conscious and apologetic. She is extremely social and I've asked her before why she looks so awkward during those instances and she says she just feels like she's always going to say the wrong thing and anger someone or say something totally irrelevant and look stupid. She says she hasn't felt stupid in a group setting before and she knows she isn't it's just the fact that she misunderstands what we are "really" talking about sometimes , and thinks of something to say, then waits in case she got in wrong and indeed, most of the times she's happy she didn't answer. She says the way we all turn to her with a blank stare makes her feel really inept.
Funny how it is similar to our experience...



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27 Mar 2011, 11:09 am

It seems to me that this hypothetical scenario would be complicated by the fact that autism is a spectrum. Even if Aspies were the majority, there would still be so much variation among them that it would still be a highly heterogeneous society, in which some, maybe most, would still feel out of place.



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27 Mar 2011, 1:02 pm

I'm not sure I would like to be normal. Even among the autistic spectrum there is a huge amount of variation, but I don't think I would like that. I have no problem with being a minority.



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27 Mar 2011, 1:18 pm

bee33 wrote:
It seems to me that this hypothetical scenario would be complicated by the fact that autism is a spectrum. Even if Aspies were the majority, there would still be so much variation among them that it would still be a highly heterogeneous society, in which some, maybe most, would still feel out of place.


Not necessarily -- it's not like NTs aren't at least as heterogenous.


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28 Mar 2011, 6:12 am

NTs will be considered as having ADD/ADHD (because, comparativle, they will difficulty in concentrating in a topic). However, they will not have social problems, because NTs adapt to society.



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28 Mar 2011, 11:38 am

TPE2 wrote:
NTs will be considered as having ADD/ADHD (because, comparativle, they will difficulty in concentrating in a topic). However, they will not have social problems, because NTs adapt to society.


That's contrary to how they actually act in autistic-dominant situations even today, though. They do frequently have social problems, quite pronounced ones, among autistic people, and have immense difficulty adapting.


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28 Mar 2011, 11:46 am

I'd rather have things as they are.


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28 Mar 2011, 11:49 am

I think if it were reversed then the society would be a very honest and intelectual one but would not be very reliable for social gatherings etc. Adverts on TV would not be as affective and would probably not exist anyway because they give false representations. Our economy would probably be based on the delivery of knowledge and scientific research etc. The best selling books would be non-fiction instead of the other way around. And the workplace would be designed to be conducive of solitary mental effort and there would be no gossiping and bullying.

Also - Our politicians would actually say what they mean, and would answer questions put to them by news readers.

I would love it.



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28 Mar 2011, 12:45 pm

anbuend wrote:
TPE2 wrote:
NTs will be considered as having ADD/ADHD (because, comparativle, they will difficulty in concentrating in a topic). However, they will not have social problems, because NTs adapt to society.


That's contrary to how they actually act in autistic-dominant situations even today, though. They do frequently have social problems, quite pronounced ones, among autistic people, and have immense difficulty adapting.


I can easily believe that. I can make a guess what NT-adaption problems I'd have if I were to attend Autreat for example (many threads about Autreat put it in my head as a place that is either 100% people on the spectrum or the large majority people on the spectrum).

Here is my guess. Knowing in advance that small talk is neither encouraged nor appreciated, I'd try to make sure I didn't do it. I'd start second-guessing everything I said, wondering if it met the purity test of conveying information rather than being for social connection. I'd become awkward, unsure, and eventually would just stop talking altogether about much of anything. It would be analogous to people here who have been told so many times to not say things that are too blunt or inappropriate. You get told that enough times, you eventually say less and less. It's just that the definition of inappropriate would shift from "too blunt" to "too small-talkish".

Broadly speaking, it seems that the biggest conflict between NT and AS needs is the need for social interaction. NT society is designed to keep the social interaction at the very high level that NTs need. And it is a need, as shown by the psychological deterioration of NTs who don't get enough. If this were a majority AS society, it would be designed to keep the social interaction at the considerably lower level needed by AS people. And it is a need, as shown by AS people who burnout and shutdown and meltdown when stuck in too much social interaction.

NTs need a high level of social interaction.
AS people need a low level of social interaction.

These two needs are in conflict. In a majority NT society, the conflict is always resolved in favor of the NT. Social interaction will always be mandated at a fairly high level and there will often be some sort of mental breakdown (meltdown, shutdown, burnout) at some point in the AS people who try to maintain that level, as mandated by society (unless they luck into a situation where it doesn't get mandated). If the neurology ratios were reversed, the conflict would always be resolved in favor of AS and the NT people would have mental breakdowns from social isolation, from having a need for social interaction which was far higher than (AS) society could meet.

Although I predicted my own problems of being in a 100% AS enviroment (except for NT me) as being awkward and unsure because I would be trying so hard to avoid small talk and always feeling I was failing, I don't think that would be a problem in an AS majority society. Things such as small talk, white lies, innuendo etc. that currently are problems for AS people in NT society wouldn't exist. NT people are perfectly capable of speaking only informationally, not telling white lies and being blunt rather than oblique. It's just that those become the norms in an NT society to smooth interaction which is constant. It would be hard for me to adapt to a sudden removal of that, such as at Autreat (just guessing about what Autreat is like). But an NT child raised by AS parents in an AS world would never learn that verbal style in the first place.

I think the main pathology would come from NT people in an AS world being social interaction starved. I don't know exactly how that would manifest. The movie Castaway has its hypothesis; that when you are starved of social interaction you start attempting to convert everything around you into a social interaction. It's possible that interaction-starved NTs would turn to animals, particularly dogs. It might even appear in the DSM criteria as a form of special interest. Dogs and NT humans seem to have a similar level of need for social interaction so a child who spent "too much" time with a dog and "not enough" time on the computer might be taken in for evaluation.



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28 Mar 2011, 1:03 pm

Janissy wrote:
Broadly speaking, it seems that the biggest conflict between NT and AS needs is the need for social interaction. NT society is designed to keep the social interaction at the very high level that NTs need. And it is a need, as shown by the psychological deterioration of NTs who don't get enough. If this were a majority AS society, it would be designed to keep the social interaction at the considerably lower level needed by AS people. And it is a need, as shown by AS people who burnout and shutdown and meltdown when stuck in too much social interaction.

I think this is a good observation, but I also think it may be a bit of an oversimplification. Many people with AS crave some degree of social interaction (how many posts here on WP are about loneliness?) but we are just incapable of meeting the rules of the subtle social dance that is required. People with AS can have the same psychological deterioration that NTs have when they are too isolated and lonely. Perhaps in an AS society it would become acceptable to socialize in a way that is very straightforward and blunt, and perhaps in smaller doses, but there wouldn't necessarily be a lack of interaction. I think people with AS would be able to interact more in a society that was suited to their style than we can in the present society.



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28 Mar 2011, 1:28 pm

bee33 wrote:
Janissy wrote:
Broadly speaking, it seems that the biggest conflict between NT and AS needs is the need for social interaction. NT society is designed to keep the social interaction at the very high level that NTs need. And it is a need, as shown by the psychological deterioration of NTs who don't get enough. If this were a majority AS society, it would be designed to keep the social interaction at the considerably lower level needed by AS people. And it is a need, as shown by AS people who burnout and shutdown and meltdown when stuck in too much social interaction.

I think this is a good observation, but I also think it may be a bit of an oversimplification. Many people with AS crave some degree of social interaction (how many posts here on WP are about loneliness?) but we are just incapable of meeting the rules of the subtle social dance that is required. People with AS can have the same psychological deterioration that NTs have when they are too isolated and lonely. Perhaps in an AS society it would become acceptable to socialize in a way that is very straightforward and blunt, and perhaps in smaller doses, but there wouldn't necessarily be a lack of interaction. I think people with AS would be able to interact more in a society that was suited to their style than we can in the present society.


That's a good point.



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30 Mar 2011, 2:10 pm

Janissy wrote:
anbuend wrote:
TPE2 wrote:
NTs will be considered as having ADD/ADHD (because, comparativle, they will difficulty in concentrating in a topic). However, they will not have social problems, because NTs adapt to society.


That's contrary to how they actually act in autistic-dominant situations even today, though. They do frequently have social problems, quite pronounced ones, among autistic people, and have immense difficulty adapting.


I can easily believe that. I can make a guess what NT-adaption problems I'd have if I were to attend Autreat for example (many threads about Autreat put it in my head as a place that is either 100% people on the spectrum or the large majority people on the spectrum).

Here is my guess. Knowing in advance that small talk is neither encouraged nor appreciated, I'd try to make sure I didn't do it. I'd start second-guessing everything I said, wondering if it met the purity test of conveying information rather than being for social connection. I'd become awkward, unsure, and eventually would just stop talking altogether about much of anything. It would be analogous to people here who have been told so many times to not say things that are too blunt or inappropriate. You get told that enough times, you eventually say less and less. It's just that the definition of inappropriate would shift from "too blunt" to "too small-talkish".

Broadly speaking, it seems that the biggest conflict between NT and AS needs is the need for social interaction. NT society is designed to keep the social interaction at the very high level that NTs need. And it is a need, as shown by the psychological deterioration of NTs who don't get enough. If this were a majority AS society, it would be designed to keep the social interaction at the considerably lower level needed by AS people. And it is a need, as shown by AS people who burnout and shutdown and meltdown when stuck in too much social interaction.

NTs need a high level of social interaction.
AS people need a low level of social interaction.

These two needs are in conflict. In a majority NT society, the conflict is always resolved in favor of the NT. Social interaction will always be mandated at a fairly high level and there will often be some sort of mental breakdown (meltdown, shutdown, burnout) at some point in the AS people who try to maintain that level, as mandated by society (unless they luck into a situation where it doesn't get mandated). If the neurology ratios were reversed, the conflict would always be resolved in favor of AS and the NT people would have mental breakdowns from social isolation, from having a need for social interaction which was far higher than (AS) society could meet.

Although I predicted my own problems of being in a 100% AS enviroment (except for NT me) as being awkward and unsure because I would be trying so hard to avoid small talk and always feeling I was failing, I don't think that would be a problem in an AS majority society. Things such as small talk, white lies, innuendo etc. that currently are problems for AS people in NT society wouldn't exist. NT people are perfectly capable of speaking only informationally, not telling white lies and being blunt rather than oblique. It's just that those become the norms in an NT society to smooth interaction which is constant. It would be hard for me to adapt to a sudden removal of that, such as at Autreat (just guessing about what Autreat is like). But an NT child raised by AS parents in an AS world would never learn that verbal style in the first place.

I think the main pathology would come from NT people in an AS world being social interaction starved. I don't know exactly how that would manifest. The movie Castaway has its hypothesis; that when you are starved of social interaction you start attempting to convert everything around you into a social interaction. It's possible that interaction-starved NTs would turn to animals, particularly dogs. It might even appear in the DSM criteria as a form of special interest. Dogs and NT humans seem to have a similar level of need for social interaction so a child who spent "too much" time with a dog and "not enough" time on the computer might be taken in for evaluation.


Since animal-related special interests are so common, it might well actually be missed.

I do think ending up starved for social contact is likely. Another issue is body language. In NTs, is behavior like eye contact, shaking hands hard, etc. innate? Or is it learned? I suspect that a lot of NTs would feel really alone and scared because everyone around them was giving out "I hate you and I am a threat" vibes. But they wouldn't quite know it, not knowing what the "I am not a threat and I like you" vibes were.

Is the high incidence of asociality on the spectrum because, through important formative years, we don't have any socialization and our brains develop without it? Or is it innate?

Some information would go straight over NTs' heads, and instead of being thought of as creepy and awkward, they might be thought of as stupid. And since morality seems to work a little differently, I think there might end up being a stereotype of NTs as sociopathic, untrue though it would be. Sociopathic and dishonest. Getting thought of like that would also be pretty awful for your mental health. Might drive some people to actually be that way.

NTs would grow up being the weird kid who wasn't smart enough to have an obsession, accidentally hurt everybody they came close to and yet constantly bugged people to play with them. As adults, they'd face that AND many would be depressed, bitter and cynical. The perceptive, smart, capable ones who also just happened to get lucky would learn to fake AS well enough to get by, but would suffer for it. Parents of NTs wouldn't believe they weren't AS...

Neurotypicality Speaks. It's time to listen. :P


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