I never start the year with a list of the most popular posts or topics from the previous year, but if I did the top three every year would probably be about autism and life expectancy, challenges for adult NLDers and how to deal with them, and neurodiversity.
The latter should be more controversial than it appears to be, because in reality it means that you ask for diagnoses like ADHD and ASD to be removed from DSM and ICD, and for the work to get NLD included to be stopped. Neurodiversity states that these challenges are nothing more than the variation you expect within the normal range of human DNA, so there’s no need to offer services to these groups. I find that to be a cold attitude promoted by people that didn’t need/get support.
There are many high-functioning with success, but there are also high-functioning that don’t succeed unless they receive support from an early age. I have encountered a few of them myself in different job-training and rehabilitation programmes. Some may think that all you need is a sufficiently high IQ score, but that isn’t an accurate tool to determine who will succeed. There are many pupils and students that do well in school with a below average score, and there are many far above average that are not very intelligent in other areas. They may be a brilliant politician, businessman, or scientist, but not always the greatest people.
I wrote a few posts after the #metoo madness, and I focused on the diagnoses I cover on this blog. There is research suggesting that aspies are far more likely to be abused than the general population. This could be because sex education in school isn’t good enough (if you struggle socially you are less likely to talk about sex with friends), because you can be manipulated, or because you want to avoid conflicts. So both boys and girls need to learn how to appropriately express these strong romantic feelings, which is a challenge as feelings in general are hard, and girls need to learn that they are not obligated to have sex every time their partner wants (or even orders it). I’m not impressed with #metoo as I didn’t think the campaign sent the right message, but one of the positive side effects was that it may have made girls on the spectrum aware of a few things.
I mention this as examples of consequences of not offering any kind of help to people with challenges. I like the positive view of neurodiversity. It’s an attitude that can help make life easier. I agree that there are positive sides, but there is also a dark side to ASD, NLD, ADHD, and the other diagnoses I write about. It isn’t all fun. The supporters of neurodiversity don’t talk much about anxiety, depression, meltdowns, difficulties in school and later in work, and the fact that some find life to be less manageable than others. Many hear Asberger and think of fictional characters like Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah-Fowler (Big Bang Theory), Amelie Poulain (Amelie), Temperance Brennan (Bones), and Spencer Reid (Criminal Minds). Most of us are neither seen as cool or brilliant.
So I have mixed feelings about neurodiversity. I know some professional health care workers like the term too, but life isn’t that simple to many of us. There isn’t that much solidarity. Words like different and unique may not be that positive. I get the impression that many use them synonomous with queer and bizarre, and I suspect that society will see more of us as weird outsiders after a childhood without support.
I like using astronomy to illustrate a point, and black/white holes seem relevant in this case. White holes are highly hypothetical regions of space where matter and light enter from the other side, but nothing can escape from our side. This is the opposite of black holes where everything caught in its gravity is sucked in. It sometimes feels as life is not sustainable, like we need outside resources to sustain life. These are resources society is reluctant to give, and if there’s a chance to avoid it, authorities will do just that. If we use that as a metaphor many of us won’t function properly in a society with a black hole, which is a society that wants our skills, but only if it can get them for free. There are many people with autism, nonverbal learning disorder, ADHD, Tourette syndrome, dyslexia and so that have a lot more potential than they get to show. You need to work before you can harvest, and some need help developing what they have. That is why I don’t think it would cost society in the long run, so even if you only think economics, it makes a lot of sense to spend money to cash in later.
I’m not suggesting a really idiotic communist system where no one considers the cost of giving everyone everything, but a combination would be good. The point is to give everyone a fair chance, and to utilize the talents. My favourite fictional Asberger-like character is Sherlock Holmes (the books), but I wonder how successful he’d be in our society. There might be an occasional Isaac Newton or Wolgang Amadeus Mozart, but I wonder how much talent is lost because they were not genius enough for the surroundings to accept their unique personality.