Let’s Talk About: #Neurodivergent ≠ Saint
Bit of a rant here, just warning you….
Additional Disclaimer: I am not naming names; this may have been prompted by one incident, but I have no desire to start a flame war.
So, a friend recently sent me a link to a post by someone else that was written in response to a comment they’d left on a previous post. A calm, rational comment, that did disagree with some (though definitely not all) of the author’s viewpoint, but explained why they disagreed. The subsequent post (the one I was directed to) did a not-very-good job of “paraphrasing” certain elements of the comment (i.e. they were not direct quotes, they were the author putting their own spin on what was said), and seemed to feel that my friend was NT because they disagreed with the author.
First of all, my friend is not NT, they’re autistic. Secondly, there were a number of points in my friend’s comment where they agreed with the author that there are problems with NT behaviour and cultural attitudes toward the neurodiverse population. Third, the “paraphrasing” that happened took the comments out of context. (FYI, nowhere in my friend’s comments did they state that ableism isn’t real. They pointed out that it’s not specifically neurodivergence that results in discrimination, that it’s simply another excuse, like having different coloured skin, or different gender/sex, or different sexuality, or… etc. A much better way of paraphrasing that particular comment would be: Discrimination is real, it happens, and it’s not just directed at the neurodiverse population, because of the way humans react to things/beings/people/cultures that are “not us”.)
Admittedly, the author appears to have been having a bad day… but still.
So my friend and I had a short email discussion about this, and we basically agreed that there was no real point responding, because of the risk of starting a comment war (and seriously, I don’t think they or I have the spoons to deal with the results if that happened). But one thing that was pointed out was that the fact is, people can be jerks.
And while overall, the neurodiverse population tends to end up more being bullied than the bullies, and more vulnerable to being exploited, etc… that doesn’t mean that some of the neurodiverse population aren’t jerks as well. (Of course, sometimes what appears to be jerkish is us not realizing that we’re coming across that way, but sometimes it’s just being a jerk.) We’re all human, after all.
And this I can back up with first hand experience, because there was a client at the ASNL in my programs for a while who was very much a jerk. They tended to make me feel uncomfortable and defensive whenever they said anything, and had a “holier-than-thou” attitude about some things. (As an aside, there’s no way in all the hells that I could possibly be a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. I tend to have naturally low iron stores, which sometimes becomes low iron anemia, and there’s no way I’d get the nutrition I need just from plants. It doesn’t help that I tend to have bad sensory reactions to a lot of legumes.) They’ve since left, so are no longer an issue, but it’s proof enough that people in the neurodiverse population can be jerks too.
So no, just because you’re neurodivergent doesn’t mean you’re a saint. Most of us at least try to be good people – I’m pretty sure that most people do, although how they define “good” might differ – but we’re just as human as everyone else, and so do have the faults of humanity as well.