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AuDHD and the politics of neurodivergent embodiment

When living life as an AuDHD (Autistic and ADHD) person, we often find ourselves falling prey to the propaganda of Western society’s neoliberalism. The enforced belief that one should be self-reliant and contribute to the capitalist machine is one that leads to the victimisation of most, if not all, of us. It’s easy to get caught in tackling the surface level ableism. However, we must dig deeper and fight the roots of our oppression in order to begin building a society we can thrive in.

The politicised existence of AuDHD people

When considering the nature of being AuDHD and/or otherwise neurodivergent, it is necessary to consider that we are not allowed to simply exist. As a marginalised community, most every aspect of our lives is a political matter.

Government welfare schemes decide if you can afford to feed yourself and your family, government health departments decide if you should have equal access to lifesaving treatments, and if so, how much you should pay. If you break the law, the government dictates your experience of the criminal justice system. If you are terminally ill, the government dictates the decisions you can make around the end of your life. When you are AuDHD, much of your autonomy in life is shaped by government legislation.

The weaponisation of our politicised existence

While your life is being dictated by those with no experience of it, we have the proverbial carrot dangled in front of us. Assimilate and be free. To some this might seem like an attractive option. If we were to just give in, less of our life would be dictated. Again, this is a mistruth.

The politics of the pathology paradigm are built upon neuronormativity. That unattainable summit of neurotypical performance that those in power ask us to achieve. Through the political control and oppression of neurodivergent embodiment, we are given the choice to deny ourselves; live inauthentically and be provided for, or be true to ourselves and relinquish our agency over our own lives.

To be neurodivergent in Western society is to accept that you are an afterthought, an anomaly to be corrected. As much as we threaten the status quo, the status quo threatens us. Thus, the spectre of legislative intrusion into our lives becomes a weapon to force us into the neurotypical box.

The paradoxical nature of being AuDHD

Politicised attitudes towards autism and ADHD are paradoxical in nature. The Autistic person should be less rigid and structured, while the ADHD person should stick to a routine. The Autistic person should socialise more naturally while the ADHD person should talk less.

No matter the contradictions we live with as AuDHD people, one thing is clear. Society wants us to silence our neurodivergence. To speak neurodivergently, be it with mouth or body, spoken or written, no matter the medium, society wishes for our silence.

Liberating AuDHD embodiment

One could be forgiven for thinking that to liberate AuDHD and neurodivergent people requires the removal of ableism from government. It’s more complex than that. Neurodivergent people are victims of complex systems of bigotry. Rarely are we only impacted by ableism. We face racism, homophobia and transphobia, ableism, sanism. This is not an exhaustive list.

To liberate AuDHD’ers living in a society built on colonialism and white supremacy, we must form new foundations to our society. We must build a place where all are accepted, rather than the privileged few in our culture whose existence is not seen as a disorder. We must embrace those seen as a pathology of humanity and empower each other to make something better than what we have currently.

It is not a disorder to be human. The world deserves better than that which the privileged few offer us.

The reason why explaining my neurodivergent experience will always be flawed

I have spoken widely about neurodivergent experiences. I have talked about my unique experience of addiction as an Autistic person, my psychosis as an AuDHD Schizophrenic. I have lamented over how society’s power structures have oppressed myself and people like me. I have spoken at length about how autism is a defining part of my core experience of reality.

One might think that on all of my years of writing, advocating, mentoring, training, and speaking, I have found somewhat of a recipe for communicating neurodivergent experiences. The truth of communicating those experiences, however, is more complex than that.

The Double Empathy Problem in Reverse

The double empathy problem has been effectively used to explain that communication differences between neurodivergent and neurotypical people essentially lay in a difference of cultural experience. We often think of this in terms of neurotypical people being unable to empathise with neurodivergent experience, but that same is true in reverse.

I can’t empathise fully with a neurotypical experience of the world.

How does this impact on the communication of neurodivergent experience

When communicating our neurodivergent experience, we have no point of reference within the neurotypical cultural world. It is a problem of solipsism, where one can only prove their own consciousness. One can only experience the world through our own mind.

Any part of that experience we communicate to others is filtered through their own subjective world. Their interpretation of our attempt to communicate our experiences is entirely dependent on a near infinite number of variables, the sum of which create a reality that may or may not be both identical or entirely different to our own.

Where one might communicate that they have a particular experience; that experience may have an entirely different meaning to another person. We are constructed by the infinite possible combinations of interactions within our environment, and therefore, we can not definitively communicate our experience of neurodivergence in an objective manner.

To put it another way, all objective truths become subjective when interpreted by human cognition.

Therefore, we must always be aware that when we communicate our neurodivergent experiences, no one other than ourselves can truly understand those experiences as felt by our own mind. We also can not explain neurodivergent experience to neurotypicals entirely accurately because we also lack that point of reference within their own reality.

This is why we need to embrace diversity of experience, even within our own neurodivergent communities. Others having a different experience to us actually increases the likelihood of a neurodivergent person successfully communicating our exact experiences.

Concluding with the infinite monkey theorem

The infinite monkey theorem states that if one gave an infinite number of monkeys, a type writer each, and allowed them to randomly hit keys for an infinite amount of time; eventually one of them would randomly type the entire collection of Shakespeare’s works.

With regards to the neurodivergent community at large, the more of us communicating our diverse experiences, the more likely that someone will eventually find a way of fully explaining neurodivergence to a neurotypical person. We need to embrace difference within individual experiences. Rather than ignore and exclude those ideas that don’t necessarily make sense to us, we need to integrate the knowledge they offer, and see if their augmentation can bridge the double empathy divide.

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