Yet why do we diagnose some people as having autism, and then simply refer to the rest informally as neurotypicals? Wouldn’t it make more sense to also diagnose people with “NT?” To my knowledge, there is no research or practical application of this concept. So based on my years as a self-diagnosed NT, and having had many years of experience with both people with autism and people without autism, I think the following should be considered partial criteria for diagnosing someone with NT:
- INCONSISTENCY: To qualify as an “NT” a person must exhibit inconsistency in all three categories. An NT will demonstrate inconsistency in their use of language (not matching words with meaning, but assigning a hidden meaning to words that cannot be taken literally), social interaction (treating some people differently than others, acting as though they are one person with one group of individuals, and acting another way with another group, or developing unwritten social rules but not following those consistently across contexts), and imagination/routines/interests (imagining things that cannot really happen, not adhering to specific routines but changing them often, and having interests that are not particularly well-developed or consistent).Other labels which could be assigned to NT’s include: disingenuous, dishonest, disinterested, distrustful, and distracted.
- LACK OF FOCUS: An NT is characteristically easily distracted by a wide variety of people, interests, conversations, abilities, fears, and tasks. Rather than having a singular focus, they are frequently noted to “multi-task” with their activities, interactions, and emotions. Brain research has identified that the brain is incapable of focusing on more than one thought or activity at any given time. Given that reality, an NT can frequently be observed to use the excuse of “multi-tasking” to waste time, money, talents, and even valuable relationships.
When I give presentations about autism, I frequently have attendees approach me and say, “Wow—that sounds just like my son/daughter/spouse/parent/co-worker!” Occasionally someone will even say, “You described me the entire time!” So I’m curious, now that you have heard the beginning of a list of “diagnostic criteria” for neurotypicals, are you also noting the people in your life who fit this “diagnosis?” Are you a self-diagnosed NT?
OK, so today’s Social Incites™ may be a bit uncharacteristically “tongue-in-cheek.” But I hope it “incites” you to think more about diagnoses and what they mean. Do they define you? Do we allow them to define others? Do we like the attention they draw to the negative aspects of a person’s abilities, functioning, etc.? Is there a better way to view and respond to each other???
If you’ve read to the end of today’s article, congratulations on “thinking outside the box!” I thank you for considering perspectives which might not have occurred to you before. I especially want to thank some of my friends (who happen to be diagnosed with ASD) for raising my awareness of the inconsistencies in the way we do diagnosing, and consequently, the way we perceive and interact with others who are “not typical.”