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Understanding Neurotypicality

topic posted Tue, March 7, 2006 - 3:25 PM by  Ryan
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I noticed Neon and several others refered to people without AS as "Neurotypicals." Well I looked up the term and found this interesting article. Maybe some people are confused about the term; because according to this article, Neurotypicals are abnormal?


Understanding Neurotypicality

Neurotypicality is a pervasive developmental condition, probably present since birth, in which the affected person sees the world in a very strange manner. It is a puzzle; a enigma that traps those so affected in a lifelong struggle for social status and recognition. Neurotypical individuals almost invariably show a triad of impairments, consisting of inability to think independently of the social group, marked impairment in the ability to think logically or critically, and inability to form special interests (other than in social activity). It is my hope that this article will help us understand the very different world of the neurotypical.

Neurotypical individuals show difficulty in forming an individual identity, or in thinking outside of the bounds of the accepted norms of their social groups. It appears that each group a neurotypical belongs to will have its own set of "official" opinions, and each neurotypical within that group is expected to adopt those beliefs. As strange as it sounds, they generally do so very readily, and are not hesitant at all to help enforce those beliefs and ensure group homogeneity of opinion. There appears to be an innate drive for the neurotypical to fit in with groups in that manner, and their own innate opinions and desires are modified automatically to fit the group ideal. This bizarre lack of independence explains the tendency for neurotypicals to engage in fads of various sorts, or for the existence of certain trends. Neurotypicals will change the way they talk or dress according to these trends, and other neurotypicals will admire and imitate such "trendy" behavior. As such, neurotypicals are easy prey for TV commercials or other means of advertising that seek to portray the purchase or use of various products as socially desirable or "cool."

The need for neurotypical individuals to "jump on" the latest trend is a function of their excessive level of concern of how they are perceived by others. Neurotypicals form their self-image based at least as much on the opinions of their peers as they do on their own opinions. They do not perceive themselves as individuals in the manner that you or I do; they see themselves as individual members of a group, but in practice, the opinions of others weigh heavily upon them, and there is a great drive to obtain the acceptance and admiration of others around them, including complete strangers. There is a built-in tendency for neurotypicals to blend in, to become "one of the herd," so to speak. Most of them never realize how much their opinions are dictated by the group. They want the things that the group deems desirable, and they internalize that desire so fully that it feels to them as if it was an internally-motivated desire.

The overdeveloped social centers of the neurotypical brain are also responsible for their odd, inefficient communication style. We've all seen the strange tendency neurotypicals have to hide their true communicative intent beneath layers of often contradictory statements. They tend to state things implicitly rather than explicitly, and with a level of vagarity that often results in miscommunication. This appears to be an outgrowth of the neurotypical person's desire to maintain popularity and social status; they seem to believe that by stating potentially annoying or offensive things indirectly, their popularity will be better maintained. This obsessive concern with social standing makes communication with neurotypicals rather difficult at times. They are incapable of expressing things directly, in a manner that can be easily and unambiguously interpreted by anyone that knows the language. They are also limited in their capacity to interpret statements directly without trying to find hidden meanings in them; they often misunderstand the most basic statements in this way.

People with neurotypicality tend to communicate in a very vague manner. They make guesses as to the level of knowledge of the listener, and omit parts that the listener is presumed to know. It is rather obvious that this guessing will often be wrong. Unfortunately, the listener that does not understand will generally not ask for clarification of such ambiguities, for fear of the speaker thinking that he is stupid or ignorant. As is usually the case with neurotypicals, image and status is more important than effective communication and the truth in general. Communication between neurotypicals is very limited in this way, and the fear of being seen as stupid prevents either party from verifying the content of the conversation. As such, most miscommunication goes undetected by at least one, if not all, neurotypicals that had engaged in such a conversation.

The neurotypical individual typically has a very limited capacity for logic or rational thought. The most recent research on the topic suggests that neurotypical people are not able to separate their emotions from their logic, and they often confuse the two. This is an obvious explanation for the sometimes appalling illogicality evidenced in neurotypical behavior. Neurotypicals typically exhibit very limited critical thought, and they are easily led to believe some rather illogical things. Sadly, most societal positions that require logic and rational thought are occupied by neurotypicals, which is a function of their sheer numbers more than any fitness for the job. Such jobs include important functions like jurors, legislators, judges, voters, doctors, and many others. If their herd mentality did not result in excessive rates of reproduction, their numbers would be smaller, and they would be of more use in job titles like salesperson, receptionist, cashier, and others where rational thought is less emphasized than social interaction.

Neurotypicals have a very limited ability to concentrate on one topic for great lengths of time, or repeatedly. The apparent absence of special interests in neurotypicals is notable. Their concentrations on normal areas of interest like computers, machines, scientific interests, history, or other academic subjects, are limited, and are short in duration as well as relatively infrequent. It appears that nearly all neurotypicals share one singular special interest, and that is socializing. This is the only activity that the person with neurotypicality can engage in for more than short periods of time. The stereotyped neurotypical mannerism of "chatting," or communicating verbally with others even where no relevant or useful information is exchanged, is notable, and can be observed very often in neurotypicals that are engaging in perseverative social behavior. Why the neurotypical mind is limited in its flexibility insofar as selection of a special interest is not known at this time. This social interest is not terribly useful as far as society in general is concerned, and the neurotypical is unlikely to be capable of significant innovation, or of fostering societal advancement.

Without significant intervention, neurotypicals will continue to be dependent on us for generations to come. Unfortunately, the neurotypical herd mentality results in an excessive rate of birth of offspring that are genetically predisposed to be neurotypical, and as such the incidence of neurotypicality remains frighteningly high. Fortunately, the percentage of neurotypical births has been in decline recently, although it is still far too high for comfort. As long as the numbers of neurotypicals are so high, it is unlikely that they will allow us to institute any remediative efforts to help them overcome their disability. We may think it is so sad to see neurotypical children being trained to maintain a group mentality and to forsake true individualism, but at this point it is unlikely that the neurotypical parents of these children will be able to overcome their aforementioned logic impairments to realize how important intervention is if their children are to live to their fullest potential. It is up to us to educate them, and to get them to see that every child is entitled to greatness, even if he was diagnosed with neurotypicality. There can be hope for a better future if we can reach these children in time.
posted by:
Ryan
SF Bay Area
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  • Unsu...
     
    god, i have been having SUCH a hard time at work, due to the NT/Aspie conflict, i really needed this. i know i saw it around a while ago, but'd forgotten it, so thank you much for bringing it back to my attention. need it, need it, need it!

    very "Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical"-ish.
  • Neat article. The whole concept of Neurotypicality not only demands recognition across all groups, but I think its very definition demands further exploration. Or at least, I have unresolved issues with the term.

    Maybe I'm just getting hung up on semantics, but the main issue I have is the "typical" part. My gut tells me that if there is a scientific basis for the principle of Neurodiversity, then there must be diversity within Neurotypicals as there is amongst other groups.

    The theory I'm tossing around these days is that the perception of Neurotypicality is actually the result of the success that so-called Neurotypicals have in forming what appears to be a tight identity club. In other words, we on the "outside" are looking at one or more exclusive consortiums. The word I coined for this (at least, I think I've coined it) is "Neuroconformity".

    This may or may not conflict with the article, now that I think about it more. Thoughts?
    • Unsu...
       
      I would say there is plenty of diversity among neurotypicals, and that the article, which is both funny and an accurate skewering of a certain NT personality "type," merely skims the surface in its burlesque of neurotypical behavior. The condescension of some of the material I've read about AS so far, written from the NT view, is accurately mirrored in the article. And this condescending tone which is embedded in so much of the above material about AS really bothers me. And so I applaud and recognize the point in the NT satire.

      Still, among NTs, you will find many who don't crave constant social interaction. There are plenty who also qualify as loners (who may either be brilliantly involved in their own interests or who are merely unsocial), shy people, independent thinkers, etc. Some are good with logical communication under some circumstances, some are not.

      I think we can all learn from each other. My goal is to refine my communication so that I truly "meet" my AS friends in a fruitful manner, without forcing conformity of behavior or communication style.

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