Reclaiming Neurofuturism: Autistic knowledge creation and the drive to know truth

I’d like to start with a word.


This word represents a concept within philosophical thought. It is the notion that some false ideas are closer to the truth than others. One might ask why this is an important concept to know in the realms of Autistic knowledge creation; in simple terms, we must always strive to know more.

Allow me to elaborate.

Autistic experience was once conceptualised as a form of childhood schizophrenia. Only those with significant day-to-day support needs were recognised, and most, if not all of them, spent their lives on institutions.

We can argue that this idea is leagues below the current water table of Autistic knowledge, but there was once a time when there was no recognition of autism. Not even under incorrect names and misunderstandings. In this sense, childhood schizophrenia, by virtue of a name, gave the story of autism a level of verisimilitude. It would seem as though this idea, while false, was closer to the truth.

This is an important distinction to make. Each new concept is bringing us closer to the truth of Autistic experience. This truth, while obscured from academic sight, is what we experience day to day. This brings us to a broader issue. There is no objective truth to Autistic experience.

While monotropism and double empathy constitute shared experience and agreement between Autistic people, we have to recognise the subjectiveness of our experiences. Our experiences, while similar, will never be identical. There is no singular truth of our experience awaiting discovery because each of our experiences is unique to us.

To understand Autistic experience is to view the larger picture, a Web of overlapping pathways that allows us to bear witness to our shared experience.

Perhaps this is why so much of autism research fails to achieve its aims. Its positivist approach seeks an objective truth that does not exist. Even if one could find the biological origins of our shared experiences, it would tell you exactly nothing about that experience, neither singularly nor as a group.

This means that even Autistic produced knowledge is more likely to be a falsehood that is close to truth than a truth in the whole. I contend in fact that since all human experiences are subjective, no knowledge will ever be objectively true in this context. The best we can hope for is a falsehood that is closer to our shared subjective truths than what we knew previously.

This, of course, raises issues with institutions that use one-size-fits-all approaches in their interactions with those within them. If there can be no objective truth of human experience, then there can be no singular approach that will work for everyone. When we realise this, things like mainstream education and social care begin to unravel. Their singular frameworks and models can not even contain a fraction of the cumulative subjective truth of our lives.

We need to enter a world in which each person is taken as they are. Where our truth is honoured and the boundaries between noise and sound are recognised in a way that allows us to transcend them as required. Until such time as the world embraces not just its diversity but its experiential-subjectivity, we will have to settle for the closest falsehood to the truth.

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