Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Defining "Normal" and "Neurotypical"

So I stumble across this blog of a young lady who claims to be "ordinary" and merely dating someone with Asperger's Syndrome.

Yeah.

Right.

She thinks and analyses things.

She has a blog.

She chooses to spend her time presumably with someone with characteristics somewhat similar to Mr. Spock.

That's not ordinary.

Not by a long shot.

Of course one of the major problems is with defining such terms as "ordinary", "normal", and "neurotypical".

Of course "normal" started to be a "loaded" word quite a number of years ago because it carries with it the baggage of "correct" and, yes, "kosher". "Normal" tends to mean that not only is the phenomenon in question something common, but something that people should want and strive to be.

One major problem of course is that quite often what is spoken of as "normal" or "typical" is neither, but rather the IMAGE neurotypicals would like to project.

For instance, back when my mother was in California she was doing a great deal of studying with the Adult Children Of Alcoholics support groups and ran into what is presumably a mantra in households where there are practicing alcoholics - "Don't talk, don't think, don't feel, and definitely don't rock the boat."

Apparently the thought is something like this - "Dad's drinking. We would suffer intractable embarassment if the nieghbors and distant relatives knew that Dad is drinking, so we are going to put on an absolutely outrageous act that Dad is absolutely wonderful so that the neighbors and distant relatives will think well of us."

The thing that strikes me, however, the more time that I do spend with these neurotypicals, is that such role playing and rusing goes WAY beyond trying to cover anything as actually serious as practicing alcoholism.

There would appear to be a STAGGERING array of things that actually are statistically very normal in neurotypicals, but that they would rather die than suffer the embarassment of admitting.

After quite a number of decades of intense observation, I would like to announce that quite average, normal, run-of-the-mill neurotypicals do the following from time to time:

1. Neurotypicals make love. I figured this out when they started bringing me their children that all look just like them. They'll never admit to it or talk about it though. In fact, when these children start to ask them how they got here, the neurotypical parents will start cooking up stories about storks or some vagueary like "God made you" or something of the sort. Of course, on the other hand, neuroatypical parents will often sit their 5-year-old children down and give them a college freshman level biology lecture when prompted with the same question, but that's another topic ...

2. Neurotypicals get upset. Most often about topics having to do with Point #1. Now Reform Normal seems to have it in mind that my classic story about the receptionist coming to work in spaghetti straps causes a disruption in the routine of the neurotypicals, thus causing a "miniature meltdown" of sorts in the neurotypicals.

Perhaps.

But I'm guessing it's more along the lines that the older neurotypical female, the "accounting person" in my story, is affronted an insulted that the younger receptionist, via her clothing, is admitting to Point #1. In fact, the younger receptionist is almost bragging, "*I* am having sex on a regular basis!"

Now, of course, anyone capable of any sort of level of abstract thought should be able to turn around and say, "So what? So are all the stray cats in the neighborhood." But not the neurotypicals of course. They have to share their shock, dismay and horror to the entire company.

3. Neurotypicals drink. ALOT. But for the life of me I cannot figure out what the hell neurotypicals are DOING with their drinking. I'm not so sure about the Autism Spectrum specifically, but certainly the "creative crowd" - artists, musicians, etc., have a millenia-long relationship with substance abuse. Quite a number of them I have known over the years have been utterly unable to function creatively when deprived of the substance of their choice, be it alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, heroine, inhalants, caffeine, or doughnuts.

Neurotypicals, on the other hand, seem to be doing something DIFFERENT with alcohol. For one, they seem to challenge each other to see who can drink the most. Also, instead of many of the "creative crowd" getting drunk or high and running off to create art or compose or perform music, the neurotypicals get F*CKING BELIGERENT, hateful, spiteful, and start beating the living crap out of anything they can get their hands on - usually starting with those they love most like spouses and children.

4. Neurotypicals can't admit to Point #3 either, so they claim to turn regligious and to have been "saved" from their drinking, and somehow this makes them look good enough to each other that they'll vote each other into the White House on this point alone.

Of course neurotypicals will admit to none of this. In their own minds they are visions of radiant perfection. They walk on water and their sh*t doesn't stink. And anyone who does not aspire to such magnificence is considered tainted and somehow nasty.

You know what ... coming to think of it ... maybe being "abnormal" and "neuroatypical" isn't so bad after all ... :)

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4 Comments:

At August 15, 2007 at 9:46 PM, Blogger phyzish said...

hmmm... you just described my life between 20 and 22.... what about weird fetish porn addiction with neurotypicals? dear god.... there is so much werid fetish porn out there.... in the end he told me i was too "idealistic" HA! erm, wait.....

 
At August 15, 2007 at 9:59 PM, Blogger reform_normal said...

I haven't seen Point #4 in action, and I've only seen Point #3 with college kids, mostly. I had an alcoholic stepfather (now divorced from my mom), and he would be belligerent whenever he didn't get enough of his alcohol (and later, his prescription narcotics, when Hepatitis C from illegal narcotics forced him to quit drinking). He could also lie like a politician.

Point #2: I wasn't even thinking of that, but now that you mention it, yes, implications of a sex life are serious business. I was trying to explain the fixation on normalcy and conformity in general, whether it has to do with what you wear in the office or how you fidget.

Re: my boyfriend: he is a little Spock-like, but he's also like a playful and affectionate child, especially around me. (I hope I'm not dehumanizing him by saying he's childlike. He just is, in a good way.)

"One major problem of course is that quite often what is spoken of as "normal" or "typical" is neither, but rather the IMAGE neurotypicals would like to project."

Exactly my point. I doubt that all those other people without autistic brain wiring are that much less unique or eccentric than I am, if they're less unique or eccentric at all. And people who naturally fall very close to the stereotypes, I imagine to be a minority.

I've sometimes thought of myself as the mirror image of Asperger Syndrome: I have the internal neural wiring that's fundamentally nonautistic, with pretty much normal sensory integration and an ability to take a certain degree of change in stride, and also to read normal body language and make normal eye contact and stuff like that. But I don't have the most extreme and stereotypical traits, and have a functional analytical mind. So it's similar to how Aspies are fundamentally autistic on the inside, but on the outside they can do a lot of things NTs can do, especially talk.

Another possibility is that I'm some kind of "cousin" with a subtle neurological difference that as yet can't be pinned down or named. Noting my similarities to certain people with AS and NVLD, I looked into both of them, and neither quite fit. Nor have any other learning disabilities, etc. And I don't really believe in AD/HD, except maybe as a placeholder for mild nonspecific quirks.

 
At August 15, 2007 at 10:04 PM, Blogger Axinar said...

Well, there must be SOMETHING wrong with you as you are obviously intelligent, thoughtful, reflective, and inquizitive.

That just ain't all that common you know ... :)

 
At August 20, 2007 at 1:56 PM, Blogger Addiction-Rehab said...

Here's a website you may find useful. http://www.addicted.com is a site for friends, families, and those who suffer from various addictions.

 

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