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Thread: "Neurotypical Spectrum Disorder"

  1. #1

    Default "Neurotypical Spectrum Disorder"

    As someone who falls on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, the popular characterization of us Auties (even in the DSM!) has struck me as rather one-sided. As I've mentioned in the past, from my perspective it is the so-called "normal" neurotypical individuals who seem disordered and deficient. For a start, the difficulties in "social reciprocity" and "back-and-forth exchange" attributed to Auties has — in my personal experience — only been an issue when interacting with NT's. As compared with other Auties, NT's seem baffled by direct and precise communication… seemingly driven by a belief that words must always mean either more or less than what they actually say.

    I thought it might be a fun and enlightening exercise to turn the tables, and write a tongue-in-cheek diagnostic criteria for "Neurotypical Disorder" or NTD. It is only half in jest — this is a fairly accurate reflection of how so-called "normal" people have looked to me throughout most of my life. I'm curious to know if other auties have had similar perceptions, or if it's just me. ^^; The astute reader may notice that many of the criteria are inversions of those currently used to define autism; descriptions of decidedly neurotypical behaviors framed so as to illustrate their problematic aspects. Maybe it will help the "other side" understand us a little better?

    I am very curious to hear everyone's thoughts. Is my characterization unfair? Anything to add? My apologies for the longish post / rant.

    Diagnostic Criteria for Neurotypical Spectrum Disorder

    A. Preoccupation with social hierarchy. In order to be diagnostic, such preoccupation must interfere with social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning as a human being. Examples include:
    1. In young children, seeking a consensus on who has "cooties" or otherwise ought to be shunned; cliquishness. In older children and adults, proactive identification of others as acceptable targets for abuse; development and rationalization of capricious scorn for broad categories of humanity.
    2. Propensity for verbal and nonverbal micro-aggressions, sometimes so prevalent as to undermine the relevance of the actual topic of exchange. Instead, conversation is subverted as a medium for the establishment of relative status while conveying little additional content.
    3. Bullying; opportunistic cruelty. This behavior is exceedingly rare outside of the NTD spectrum and is considered strongly diagnostic if present.
    4. Dramatic variation in values and beliefs in different situations; "keeping up appearances" to the point of inducing cognitive dissonance; lack of personal integrity. Affected individuals may even hold diametrically opposed viewpoints, alternating from one to the other as context requires, and can temporarily forget factual information during those times that it is incompatible with the viewpoint they currently hold. Critically, the social hierarchy is the guiding influence over much of the individual's core personality and self-definition.

    B. Fuzzy reasoning as manifested by at least two of the following, currently or by history:
    1. Imprecise use of language. NTD spectrum individuals may infer far more information than was actually conveyed to them, and clear communication will often necessitate generous use of disclaimers. At the same time, affected individuals are likely to overlook finer details of what was conveyed unless they are emphasized; they generally experience difficulty parsing concise verbiage.
    2. Pronounced difficulty with logical inference. Most commonly, individuals may frequently jump to anticipated conclusions while overlooking other possibilities, fostering an oversimplified view of the world. They may do poorly at the Wason selection task as a result of this tendency, for example. Individuals may also consistently fail to identify circular reasoning, fail to notice contradictions in their premises, or repeatedly "lose a minus sign" in thinking through more involved topics and conclude the exact opposite of what follows from their premises.
    3. Reliance on "sound bite" reasoning. Viewpoints that can fit in one sentence implicitly carry more weight than viewpoints with more nuance, which are often discarded out of hand simply due to their complexity.
    4. Persistent inability to recognize flaws in their reasoning nor limitations of their knowledge. NTD spectrum individuals may stubbornly insist upon whatever conclusions they initially jumped to, regardless of any new information presented.


    C. Superficiality of experience as manifested by at least one of the following:
    1. Shallowness of interests / lack of driving personal passion. Affected individuals may not identify as having any strong interests or foci of their existence, or may identify primary interests as only very generic activities, e.g. "video games", "hanging out", "sports", etc. When they do identify as being deeply interested in a given topic, their sphere of knowledge may still be quickly exceeded in casual conversation about it.
    2. Minimization / intellectualization of sensory stimuli. To an individual on the NTD spectrum, sensory input is heavily filtered and experienced somewhat indirectly, and as a result rapidly loses novelty. Even favorite songs can quickly become "overplayed" as the actual experience of listening becomes increasingly filtered out. NTD spectrum individuals are also frequently unable to derive enjoyment from simple stimuli such as spinning, clicking buttons, or touching interesting textures. Tragically, some even lose the ability to enjoy riding swings after childhood.
    3. Diminished capacity for empathy. NTD emotional interaction is often highly formalized, and affected individuals tend to either disregard or wildly speculate upon unfamiliar or unexpected cues or signals. This can herald a tremendous gulf in understanding between NTD individuals and animals including pets; some have gone so far as to openly speculate, e.g., that non-human mammals are not self-aware, or that fish do not feel pain.

    Keep in mind that neurotypicality exists on a spectrum. High-functioning cases may be difficult to diagnose, particularly as individuals develop coping strategies over time. On the other hand, some people may experience more severe and disabling symptoms.

    *****

    What do you think? ^^;; Can anyone relate?

  2. #2

    Default

    Ha ha! That's a really interesting take on things.

    I'm not sure about C, but otherwise I feel EXACTLY the same about at least 95% of the population!

    People are so illogical. They believe things yet are incapable of clearly (logically) explaining why. Most people's idea of logic is based on emotional reaction. They don't see the problem of being logically incoherent if it feels like "common sense". And I'm surprised at how others find the Wason test counterintuitive.

    The tribalism and one-upmanship of people drives me nuts too. I hate office politics. Once someone has been identified as a target, everyone else is quick to attack them as a way of taking attention away from their own deficiencies. However, I have noticed that the more senior you become in a company, the less you have to deal with other people's bullshit. You are more likely to be respected for being fair, forgiving, providing mentorship, etc.

    Look at the kinds of over-priced, impractical motor vehicles people drive -- especially in cities! Some people have a quasi-sexual attraction to sports cars, eyeing them up as if they were a prospective sexual partner. Cars aren't just used as vehicles, they're manifestations of their wealth, sexual prowess, personality and refined taste. They're not designed with functionality and performance in mind -- they're designed to be status symbols for showing off. It's so illogical!

    And then you have people who derive pleasure and a sense of self-worth from annoying other people. Either by driving recklessly, or winding down the windows and playing music at full blast. People seem to get a kick out of that, as if they imagine that everyone they disturb is thinking, "Wow! What wonderful people! I wish I could be more like them!"

    But I'm not autistic... (as far as I know)...

  3. #3

    Default

    As someone with high-functioning NSD I would like to point out that research indicates the subconscious mind plays a much bigger role in human reasoning, perception, and behavior then most people are aware of. Little is known about the subconscious mind (Duh! It IS subconscious after all), but researchers are seeing it's footprints all over human thinking. The cure for NSD would be to eliminate, or severely minimize, the subconscious mind's influence over human thinking, turning us all into smart, logical robots.

    I'm not sure I want the cure. Some of the most exciting and fun experiences I've had were when I was doing something stupid.

  4. #4

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    Ha ha! That's a really interesting take on things.

    I'm not sure about C, but otherwise I feel EXACTLY the same about at least 95% of the population!

    People are so illogical. They believe things yet are incapable of clearly (logically) explaining why. Most people's idea of logic is based on emotional reaction. They don't see the problem of being logically incoherent if it feels like "common sense". And I'm surprised at how others find the Wason test counterintuitive.

    The tribalism and one-upmanship of people drives me nuts too. I hate office politics. Once someone has been identified as a target, everyone else is quick to attack them as a way of taking attention away from their own deficiencies. However, I have noticed that the more senior you become in a company, the less you have to deal with other people's bullshit. You are more likely to be respected for being fair, forgiving, providing mentorship, etc.

    Look at the kinds of over-priced, impractical motor vehicles people drive -- especially in cities! Some people have a quasi-sexual attraction to sports cars, eyeing them up as if they were a prospective sexual partner. Cars aren't just used as vehicles, they're manifestations of their wealth, sexual prowess, personality and refined taste. They're not designed with functionality and performance in mind -- they're designed to be status symbols for showing off. It's so illogical!

    And then you have people who derive pleasure and a sense of self-worth from annoying other people. Either by driving recklessly, or winding down the windows and playing music at full blast. People seem to get a kick out of that, as if they imagine that everyone they disturb is thinking, "Wow! What wonderful people! I wish I could be more like them!"

    But I'm not autistic... (as far as I know)...
    Exactly! Criterion C was basically an inversion of the ASD traits of "stimming", sensitivity to stimuli, intensely focused areas of interest, and anecdotal evidence of heightened nonverbal communication, particularly with animals. It does surprise me how few of my friends find swings enjoyable… o.O

    Occasionally people fail at logic so hard it leaves me speechless. In grad school, one of my room mates was a bio-med student, and a self-proclaimed advocate for animal rights. The thought of animals suffering at human hands just broke her heart. However, it turns out that her job involved conducting experiments on lab mice which often resulted in their suffering. She saw no conflict with her values; her exact reasoning was "It's okay, mice aren't animals." Yikes. o.O;;

    - - - Updated - - -



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    As someone with high-functioning NSD I would like to point out that research indicates the subconscious mind plays a much bigger role in human reasoning, perception, and behavior then most people are aware of. Little is known about the subconscious mind (Duh! It IS subconscious after all), but researchers are seeing it's footprints all over human thinking. The cure for NSD would be to eliminate, or severely minimize, the subconscious mind's influence over human thinking, turning us all into smart, logical robots.

    I'm not sure I want the cure. Some of the most exciting and fun experiences I've had were when I was doing something stupid.
    Perhaps there is something to be said for that. ^.^ Maybe a better cure would be a logic unit which could be toggled on and off… so long as the switch was clearly labeled so there was no mistaking when it was off…

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphyre View Post
    Perhaps there is something to be said for that. ^.^ Maybe a better cure would be a logic unit which could be toggled on and off… so long as the switch was clearly labeled so there was no mistaking when it was off…
    I think one of the biggest impediments to logic in the modern age is the amount of information available to us. There is too much! The human brain is incapable of processing it all. No matter what your beliefs are you can find 'proof' on the internet that your beliefs are 'true'. When we disagree we can accuse each other of not digging deep enough to get all the 'facts', but there is a never ending supply of 'facts' for all sides.

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