Double empathy, solipsism, and neurotypicality

Why do interventions such as Applied Behavioural Analysis and Positive Behavioural Support exist? Why is it that our world uses neurotypicality as the standard from which neuronormativity is drawn?

Fundamentally, I believe that it comes down to the double empathy problem. Autistic people have a different style of communications to those with a predominant neurocognitive style in their culture. This creates a breakdown in communication, and due to the power imbalance in neuronormative culture, neurotypicality is considered superior, we are so often labelled as “disordered” or as having “deficits”.

But why is this happening? Where does this neuronormativity arise from?

I believe that to understand neuronormativity, we must first understand Solipsism. Solipsism is the belief that only the self and its experiences exist. A solipsist would believe that their experiences are the only experiences, essentially reducing others and their experiences to sub-human automations.

This is where I believe that neuronormativity arises from. A kind of strange solipsism.

In my opinion, while neurotypicals have been using ideas such as theory of mind to accuse Autistics of lacking the ability to know another’s mind, neurotypicals have been so unaware of the existence of neurodivergent experience that they will inflict pain on us to “help” us conform to their standards.

To put it another way, do most neurotypicals believe not only that their experience of the world is the “right” experience, but also the only experience of the world?

This means that when neurotypicals witness Autistic communication, they experience a kind of cognitive dissonance that results in their lashing out in the form of behavioural interventions, because they fully believe that the only way to exist is by the weird neuronormative standards that are enforced upon society.

What even is neurotypical?

That changes depending on the cultural environments, but in this sense it can be considered the predominant neurocognitive style in a given culture (Walker, 2021).

Neurotypicalilty is essentially a performance. It is a style of existing.

This effect has created a power imbalance wherein regardless of the number of neurotypicals in the room, they are still considered the gold-standard.

To me, it doesn’t seem like Autistic people are the ones needing an intervention.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

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