The politics of existence and the regulation of Neurodivergent experience

For a long time now, Autistic people have been fighting to have the contested title of Autism Spectrum Disorder removed from discourse of medicine. We feel that as an emerging culture, being Autistic is an identity rather than a medical matter. When considering one’s identity, we have to consider all avenues of discourse surrounding it. Today, we’re going to consider politics.

Whether you want to admit it or not, politics is relevant to the lives of every single human. There isn’t a single aspect of human life that doesn’t have an association with beaurocratic regulations and inaccessible power structures. In the case of Autistic and otherwise Neurodivergent people, a unique problem is posed to those in power. For a current system to function, people need to assimilate into normative standards. How can one regulate another’s existence in such a way?

The answer is relatively simple. Psychology. More specifically, psychometry. By quantifying and regulating the expectations for people development and behaviour, you can position those who do not assimilate as outliers. You create a binary of in-group versus out-group. This allows those in power to create a disconnect between the normative world and those who do not fit in.

This is how society oppresses neurodivergent people. We are positioned as less-than-human using psychological metrics that have been arbitrarily created. Once a group has been dehumanised in such a way, it’s easier to make people turn on each other. When positioned alongside the idea of finite resources, we can be viewed as an unnecessary drain on resources rather than humans who have rights. People are taught that more rights and resources for us means less for them.

And so, by quantifying human development and behaviour, governments and authorities have effectively regulated human expression of identity through the politicisation of our very existence. This is why the push to have Neurodivergence depathologised is so important. It’s the first step towards a world in which those in power no longer control how we think, feel, and embody ourselves.

Until such time that this is achieved, we have to make peace with the uncomfortable truth that our identity and the wider perception of it is not a matter of our own choice.

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