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Reclaiming Neurofuturism: Understanding neuronormativity and the containment of Autistic experience

Much of western society is predicated on the idea that knowledge consists of a variety of objective truths. When we hear the word “disability” or “autism” we are guided to understand the word in a particular way. This unfortunately fails to capture the dynamic and highly contextual nature of human understanding. Neuronormativity, then, is an attempt to remove context from human neurological experience.

The creation of worlds

Knowledge is socially constructed. Each word we speak carries with it the effect of each interaction we have had with society. When I state that I am Disabled or Autistic, I inevitably will have a different understanding of what I mean than the meaning you will draw from it.

The space between the context of our understanding can be conceived of as the space between worlds. While our world may carry striking similarities, we can never objectively prove that they are the same. Rather than occupying a shared reality, we create contextual worlds that may cross boundaries with each other in places.

Neuronormativity and the elimination of context

When I consider normativity that is directed toward our embodiment and experience of the world, I see the death of context. Neuronormativity is that clandestine effort to label some contextual worlds as “wrong” and bolster some as “closer to the truth”. What is important here is that while neuronormativity claims an objective truth to one’s neurocognitive machinations, no human ever achieves the objective truth that it claims to hold.

Paradoxically, neuronormativity creates a world devoid of context, where one can never actually satisfy the truth of the matter. All humans fall below standard to some extent. Of course, some of us have more privilege than others, but importantly, we are guided to always strive to achieve an inaccessible truth. Regardless of our contextual world.

The contextual nature of Autistic experience

Perhaps one of the most pervasive and harmful applications of neuronormativity’s erasure is within the lives of Autistic people. Autistic experience is highly contextual, with an infinite number of ways that people can respond to and understand it. Neuronormativity seeks to erase any context within the Autistic experience that positions our existence as something other than a problematised one.

Each Autistic performance creates a contextual world of meaning. What we summarise as shared experience is actually the liminal spaces where one person’s contextual world crosses into another. In this sense, each Autistic person represents a point within a rhizomatic network, from which shared context can become community. Neuronormativity seeks to reset those liminal spaces, and enforce a generalised context. Neuronormativity is the death of our reality.

Neuronormativity is the death of community.

Creating Autistic Suffering: The AuDHD Burnout to Psychosis Cycle- A deeper look

This article was co-authored by Tanya Adkin and David Gray-Hammond

Monotropism is a theory of autism. It is used interchangeably as a theory and also a trait that describes a style of attention. It suggests that Autistic people tend to have singular but highly detailed tunnels of attention, as opposed to spreading their attentional resources across multiple subjects (Murray, Lesser & Lawson, 2005). It has succeeded where other theories have failed by offering an explanation for every element of Autistic experience. In this sense monotropism is the only universal theory of autism.

One could consider it the “engine” of Autistic experience. Whereby every other part of Autistic experience can be traced back to monotropism in some way. It is at the core of our experience.

Emerging research is showing that both Autistic and ADHD people strongly identify with many aspects of monotropism as a way of describing their experience (Murray & Hallett, 2023). More on this can be found at this virtual presentation. It comes as no surprise then that monotropism is of significant importance to those who identify as both Autistic and ADHD, termed AuDHD.

Psychotic phenomena is another shared experience for many Autistic and/or ADHD people. 34.8% of formally identified Autistic people have experienced psychosis with up to 60% of Schizophrenic people also showed traits of autism (Ribolsi et al, 2022), In terms of the cross-over with ADHD, 47% of those diagnosed with childhood onset of schizophrenia experienced attention differences and hyperactivity in childhood, and in a sample size of 100 adults with psychosis, 32% reported attentional differences in childhood (Levy et al, 2015).

From this we can see that there is a significant overlap between the AuDHD experience and psychotic phenomena. When we look at this through the lens of monotropism, it begins to make more sense.

Monotropic Split

Monotropic split refers to a very specific type of attentional trauma experienced by monotropic people who are regularly exceeding their attentional resources (Adkin, 2022) in an effort to meet the demands of living in a world designed for non-monotropic (polytropic) people. It inevitably leads to burnout.

Atypical Burnout

Autistic burnout refers to a state of exhaustion created by using up all of your internal resources.

“Autistic burnout is often used by autistic adults to describe a state of incapacitation, exhaustion, and distress in every area of life. Informally, autistic adults describe how burnout has cost them jobs, friends, activities, independence, mental and physical health, and pushed them to suicidal behavior.”

Raymaker et al (2020)

Because Autistic burnout is described as a state of exhaustion, one would assume, that for many Autistic people observationally it can look like depression, and as such tools are being developed to differentiate between the two. However, exhaustion does not always mean that you are bed-bound, observably tired, and, indeed, displaying observable traits of depression. Many people with depression do not fit typical criteria, which is then referred to as high-functioning depression (useful!).

This is likely because the medical model has some sort of obsession with observable, diagnosable, traits. Many Autistic people are unable to stop and burnout. This may be because they are also ADHD, they may have interoceptive differences resulting in alexithymia and a lack of recognition of tiredness. They may simply have to work or raise children.

This may look like meerkatting and hypomanic behaviour (Adkin & Gray-Hammond, 2023) in addition to loss of skills and reduced tolerance to stimulus (Raymaker et al, 2020).


Lovingly dubbed “meerkat mode” by Tanya due to the heightened state of vigilance and arousal it presents, it involves constantly looking for danger and threat. It is more than hyper-arousal, Tanya believes that it is actually an overwhelmed monotropic person desperately looking for a hook into a monotropic flow-state.

This is not just sensory hyper-arousal, it is the tendency of monotropic minds to seek out a natural and consuming flow-state to aid recovery from burnout and/or monotropic split. Because of the heightened sensory-arousal and adrenal response that comes with it, monotropic flow becomes difficult to access, leading into monotropic spiral.

Monotropic Spiral

Tanya’s original concept of Monotropic spiral results from the inertia of monotropic flow. It may involve obsessive-compulsive type occurrences of rumination about a particular subject of experience that pulls the person deeper and deeper into an all-consuming monotropic spiral. Associative thinking that starts connecting this to anything and everything, seemingly like an ever increasing black-hole (Adkin & Gray-Hammond, 2023; Gray-Hammond & Adkin, 2023).

This can lead to the development of apparent loss of insight into ones own mental state and reality as described by the general population.

Psychotic Phenomena

Monotropic spiral is not psychosis. It is rather the vehicle that carries the person into psychotic phenomena, and maintains its inertia. Much like a star collapsing on itself, the resultant black-hole sucks in everything in its vicinity and is all-consuming.

A person experiencing monotropic spiral may lose insight and their sense of Self, compounded by a decoupling from shared reality. People can experience hallucinatory events, especially when alexithymic, making it difficult to differentiate between external sound and one’s own internal monologue. We can experience paranoia and rejection sensitive dysphoria to the point of delusion, it’s unclear where the line between this and fully fledged psychosis lies. We can also experience catatonic events and extreme lability of our mood, ranging from suicidally depressed to overtly manic and elated.

This may be why criteria for conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar are so frequently met in the psychiatrists office. In a world that traumatises us by design, these phenomena may not be as atypical as we are led to believe.

Concluding thoughts

Are we looking at three separate occurrence that commonly happen together, within an observational model? Or are we looking at chronically stressed and burned out monotropic people, that due to the infinite possible interactions with an individual person’s environment, may observationally appear distinctively different?

Perhaps then we should stop thinking in terms of:

Autistic person + Environment = Outcome

instead considering:

Monotropic person + Environment = Outcome

Chronic stress or stressful life events have long been studied as a key contributing factor for the onset of psychotic phenomena (Philips et al, 2007) but the occurrence and impact of stress for monotropic people is vastly different, but it is not yet widely understood. This is because of the lack of training and rampant neuronormativity in mental health services (Gray-Hammond & Adkin, 2022); the antidote to which is neurodivergence competence (Gray-Hammond & Adkin, 2023).

Instead, we keep throwing money in the wrong direction and leaning on carcerative care to make the problem go away. If we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist, right? Seems to us like we should just fix the environment. Maybe that’s our “rigid” black and white thinking.


Adkin, T. (2022) What is Monotropic Split?

Adkin, T. & Gray-Hammond, D. (2023) Creating Autistic Suffering: What is atypical burnout?

Gray-Hammond, D. & Adkin, T. (2023) Creating Autistic Suffering: CAMHS kills kids.

Gray-Hammond, D. & Adkin, T. (2022) Creating Autistic Suffering: Neuronormativity in mental health treatment.

Gray-Hammond, D. & Adkin, T. (2023) Creating Autistic Suffering: Autistic safety and neurodivergence competency.

Levy, E., Traicu, A., Iyer, S., Malla, A., & Joober, R. (2015). Psychotic disorders comorbid with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: an important knowledge gap. Canadian journal of psychiatry. Revue canadienne de psychiatrie, 60(3 Suppl 2), S48.

Murray, F. & Hallett, S. (2023) ADHD and monotropism.

Murray, D., Lesser, M., & Lawson, W. (2005). Attention, monotropism and the diagnostic criteria for autism. Autism, 9(2), 139-156.

Phillips, L. J., Francey, S. M., Edwards, J., & McMurray, N. (2007). Stress and psychosis: towards the development of new models of investigation. Clinical psychology review, 27(3), 307-317.

Raymaker, D. M., Teo, A. R., Steckler, N. A., Lentz, B., Scharer, M., Delos Santos, A., … & Nicolaidis, C. (2020). “Having all of your internal resources exhausted beyond measure and being left with no clean-up crew”: Defining autistic burnout. Autism in adulthood, 2(2), 132-143.

Ribolsi, M., Fiori Nastro, F., Pelle, M., Medici, C., Sacchetto, S., Lisi, G., … & Di Lorenzo, G. (2022). Recognizing psychosis in autism spectrum disorder. Frontiers in Psychiatry13, 768586.

What is it about ABA that is so harmful to Autistic people?

There are many things within this world that can cause controversy in minority communities. One less discussed in mainstream society, but of significant interest to the Autistic community is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). Nothing sets Autistic Rights activists ready to march into battle quite like the normative violence of behaviourism.

So, what is ABA?

ABA is based on a school of psychological thought known as behaviourism. Behaviourism itself being a social science that uses observable behaviour to investigate psychological values of an organism. Behaviourism is in a lot of things that we interact with. In fact, if you own a dog, you have probably already encountered it.

ABA, then, is an applied version of this science. It uses functional analysis of an individuals behaviour to identify the function of a given behaviour with the intention of identifying target behaviours to be extinguished or reinforced.

This is done through the use of positive reinforcement (for example, rewarding a behaviour) and aversive techniques ranging from planned ignoring to the use of electric shocks. The aim of these techniques is to make an individual conform to societies normative standards of behaviour, which is why it’s relevant to Autistic individuals.

Many people state that Lovaas created it after his work on The Feminine Boy Project (Gay Conversion Therapy), which utilises the same techniques. Technically, this is true, although it would be more accurate to say that Lovaas took a technique that already existed and made it much more sadistic. Behavioural Analysis was, in fact, seen as early as 1947 within the context of animal behaviourism in Arkansas.

Lovaas was famously known for stating that Autistic people looked like humans, but were more akin to something sub-human that needed to be constructed into an acceptable form. It is unsurprising then that much of his work on ABA was informed by the sadistic practice of Gay Conversion Therapy.

Back to the point

History aside, ABA is a harmful practice, and it’s particularly offensive when we consider its use among neurodivergent people.

Our current society is built from the bottom up. The economic policies and cultural practices in many parts of the world are built on a foundation of colonialism. This has led to a prominent neoliberal attitude that individuals should be self-reliant producers of profit that adhere to certain standards of behaviour. These standards can be considered the basis of normativity, although more specifically we need to talk about neuronormativity.

What is so dangerous about neuronormativity is that it requires us to embody our neurology and experience of the world in very specific ways. Any deviation from a perception of ‘normality’ is seen as abberant and in need of correction. It has significant links to other forms of oppression, such as white supremacy and queerphobia.

How does this relate to ABA?

The purpose of ABA is to assimilate an individual into these neuronormative performances of behaviour. It does not take regard to whether this performance is comfortable for the individual, and it takes little account of the damage that the process of forced assimilation can have on a person.

Autistic people are monotropic. We have minds that prefer singular, hyperfocused attention tunnels. Our cognitive resources preferentially assign themselves to one thing at a time, building inertia that can make rapid transition between points of focus a traumatic experience.

This presents an issue when we consider that a neuronormative approach to the world is designed for a polytropic mind that can assign its cognitive resources across multiple streams of focus simultaneously without building too much inertia. ABA encourages Autistic people to live polytropically.

Why is this a problem?

Autistic people who are forced to behave and live polytropically are at risk of a phenomenon called monotropic split. This is caused because a monotropic mind can not regulate its attentional resources across multiple streams. Monotropic split can ultimately lead to a range of mental health concerns and even suicidality.

ABA creates this issue for many of the Autistic people who go through it.

This is why I view ABA as a tool of normative violence. It is an aggressive tool of forced assimilation that does not care for the harm it does. Many ABA practitioners will claim that ABA is no longer harmful, but while its goals remain to force conformity, it will create this issue of monotropic split.

In order to create happy and healthy Autistic people, we need to support them to be as independent as possible in the world while living in a way that is comfortable for them. This means allowing Autistic people to be interest-led, and to regulate their senses and emotions naturally rather than hide their struggles for the comfort of others.

I am not a fool. ABA won’t be ended overnight. It is a billion dollar industry that uses lobbying and misinformation to maintain its hold over stakeholders. In the short run, we have to focus on harm reduction efforts, which can range from supporting survivors to sewing the seeds of dissent amongst its practitioners.

We can not and will not stop speaking out against it. Slowly but surely, we can shift the power imbalance. However, we have to recognise that while the foundation of colonialism exists, practices like ABA will remain an issue for those who do not adhere to the cult of normality.

Mask on, Mask off: How the common understanding of Autistic masking is creating another mask

This post was authored by Tanya Adkin

Over the years I’ve been privileged enough to play a part in the discovery journey of what must be hundreds of Autistic people. One of the questions I am frequently asked about masking is “how do I unmask?”, as if there is a more authentic version of themselves that exists below the layers of neuronormative conditioning and the traumas that come with that.

My answer is often received as quite shocking. You don’t unmask. Not consciously, at least.

Masking tends to be commonly understood (thanks to some really interesting literature) as a choice. Almost as if when somebody suggests that we are Autistic, or we come to that realisation, we can begin to remove parts of ourselves that we deem “inauthentic” or “forced”, but where is the roadmap that tells us which parts are inauthentic or forced? How do we know what is the mask and what is us?

Autistic masking (also referred to in the literature as camouflaging, compensation, and most recently “adaptive morphing”) is the conscious or unconscious suppression of natural responses and adoption of alternatives across a range of domains including social interaction, sensory experience, cognition, movement, and behavior.

Pearson & Rose, 2021

To sum up the above quote, while we can consciously choose to conceal authentic Autistic expression as a way to avoid stigma; masking is also an unconscious projection of acceptability in an effort to avoid traumatic situations that arise from our differences. Projecting acceptability does not just mean pretending to appear more neurotypical.

Much like water, we take the shape of our container. To put it another way, we don’t choose the form that our masking takes, the environments we exist within often choose it for us. This is why many Autistic people experience internalised ableism, the environment of neuronormative society teaches us that we are broken and unworthy.

These attitudes are taught to us from the moment we commence education. Schools that give out attendance rewards, and punish children and families that struggle to engage, usually because of unmet needs or disability.

Gray-Hammond & Adkin, 2021

This feeds back into Beardon’s Golden equation:

Autism + Environment = Outcome

It stands to reason then that if you have been unconsciously masking for a significant amount of time in order to protect yourself due to previously traumatic experiences, you may not even be aware of the ways in which you conceal yourself. Traumatic experiences for an Autistic person are unavoidable (Gray-Hammond & Adkin, 2021), therefore an unconscious response to said trauma in the form of projecting acceptability is also unavoidable.

50% of Autistic people are alexithymic (Kinnaird et al, 2019). Which means that we have difficulties reading, interpreting, or even feeling our emotions. Emotions are an internal sense, this sense is called interoception. When we talk about alexithymia what we are talking about is interoceptive differences specifically related to our experiences of emotion. If we have interoceptive differences, how are we supposed to know which internal authentic expressions we are unconsciously masking?

I posit that masking is one of the most authentically Autistic expressions. It’s been argued that not all Autistic people mask, what we actually know is that all people mask, regardless of their neurology. This has been called many different things, from “using a telelphone voice” to code switching. All of us mask, it’s a human experience. For monotropic people, who cannot perform neurotypicality as comfortably as a polytropic person might, the taxation on one’s attentional resources can be huge. This then leads to monotropic split (Adkin, 2022), burnout, potential suicidality, and mental health concerns.

If all humans mask to some degree then so do all Autistic people. We need to get rid of the notion that masking is appearing more neurotypical. This may not be achievable for everyone. There are often phrases thrown around such as “high-masking” or “unable to mask”. To me this is repackaging of functioning labels. Truth be told if we are basing our analysis of somebody’s ability to mask on how neurotypical they appear, we are missing the entire point of an unconscious trauma response.

If cognitively privileged Autistic people are unable to articulate the beginnings and ends of an unconscious mask, then who are we to impose our own unconscious masking onto another. We are reinforcing neuronormative and ableist stereotypes by assuming that all masking is about performing neurotypicality, and that neurotypicality is something we should emulate.

When we discover our Autistic identity, our environment changes. The vessel in which we exist is changing shape, so therefore so are we. This could be the literature, the information absorbed in google searches, the attitudes around us (such as those of Autistic advocates). It could reinforce negative views of ourselves.

What people are really asking is not how to unmask, but “how do I behave more Autistically?”

The unconscious masking is so ingrained into us that the assumption is often “if I behave Autistically, things will be better”. Which in its own way is a conscious expression of masking in order to avoid the traumas which masking created in the first place. It follows a cycle of imposter sydrome. Doubting one’s identity, because you don’t flap your hands, or because you are considered “sociable”. I am not ashamed to admit that I have been formally identified twice because of this.

We share commonality but when you’ve met one Autistic person, you have met one Autistic person. Our life experiences (like it or not) shape who we are. The concept of unmasking can oftentimes (in my experience) create somewhat of a secondary identity crisis. You unconsciously consider yourself not neurotypical enough, but also not Autistic enough. Further from this, we can see exaggerated expressions of the Autistic Self as a way to project acceptability within the new environment in which we now exist. Also, as a way to deter potentially harmful environmental interference.

We become angry, and rightfully so. We may notice that we have been too passive, we are given a licence to lean into stereotypical Autistic expression. There is nothing wrong with that. One could say that we try on the Autistic mask because this is how we have been conditioned to behave.

It is still very much an unconscious projection of acceptability in order to keep oneself safe. So therefore, we do not unmask in the way that many think we do; we do not peel of our face to leave by the bedside at night time. You are already authentically Autistic.

It takes time, but what we can do is become more aware of our environments and reframe our own experiences thus far, which eventually, hopefully, leads us to exist in a way that is least taxing on our internal resources but also keeps us safe.


Adkin, T (2022) What is monotropic split? Emergent Divergence.

Gray-Hammond, D & Adkin, T (2021) Creating Autistic Suffering: Ableism and Discrimination. Emergent Divergence.

Kinnaird, E., Stewart, C., & Tchanturia, K. (2019). Investigating alexithymia in autism: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Psychiatry, 55, 80-89.

Pearson, A., & Rose, K. (2021). A conceptual analysis of autistic masking: Understanding the narrative of stigma and the illusion of choice. Autism in Adulthood, 3(1), 52-60.

Challenging Behaviour: The weaponisation of Autistic existence

Challenging behaviour. It’s a term we have likely all heard. It projects images of violent children, unruly and disruptive to the children who behave in the way expected of them. However, this particular term has been used to frame Autistic experience as an abberation of human expression and justified the use of abusive interventions and use of restrictive practice.

When we consider scales that measure challenging behaviour, you might be surprised to learn that many of the behaviours they target are normal Autistic behaviours. It seems as though merely existing in a way natural to ourselves has been positioned as challenging in its own right. They’re not entirely wrong, of course; Autistic culture is a counterculture, one that stands in opposition to the multi-million dollar behaviour industry that exploits the fear of vulnerable parents.

The issue is that interventions such as ABA and PBS do not effectively target the behaviours one might assume. They target Autistic existence, seeking to normalise and assimilate us into a neuronormative society. It’s unlikely they will reduce violence or aggression, but it is very likely that they will leave the victim with an unhealthy relationship with themselves.

Here is a Tweet thread from Ann Memmott, PgC MA

In my opinion, the existence of such therapies play a role in the staggeringly high suicide rate amongst Autistic people (see this PDF from the Royal College of Psychiatrists). We are teaching Autistic people that who they are is wrong, that they need correcting. We refer to Autistic behaviour as aberrant behaviour.

In this way, the autism industrial complex has turned our existence into a profit margin, with our wellbeing as an acceptable loss in the fight for bigger bonuses. We have created an industry that sacrifices Autistic people for cash rewards. They don’t care for our humanity.

When behaviourists feel uncomfortable with us speaking out against them, it’s a good thing. To not feel uncomfortable would be an inhumane act. We want them to realise the pain they have been complicit in. They have taken our natural state and wielded it as a tool to remove our agency.

Autistic people deserve to exist as they are.

We are not abberations of normality. We are not a product. Our bodyminds are not consumable. We do not exist to be moulded to the will of others in the name of profit. I do not desire assimilation anymore than than a plant desires herbicide. I have never wanted to be “indistinguishable from my peers”. I have a right to be more than an invisible component in a faceless machine.

When ABA supporters seek to silence Autistic voices, they seek to uphold the imbalance of power in a violently oppressive society.

ABA is not okay. Yes, all ABA.

Reclaiming Neurofuturism: Neuroqueering knowledge and its production

In a previous article, I discussed the idea of verisimilitude. I discussed how we might never find an objective truth that explains neurodivergent experience. In fact, we might never find one for human experience on the whole. What we can do is seek a falsehood that is close enough to truth to seem true, it has verisimilitude.

One of the flaws in this is the arborescent approach to knowledge creation that this takes. We are constantly building on previous knowledge. Our foundations are rooted in the past. However, if we accept the verisimilitous nature of all knowledge pertaining to neurodivergent experience, then we must accept that there is a good chance that prior knowledge is a falsehood that seems true.

This presents an issue. If the foundations we branch out from are unstable, the metaphysical structure of our knowledge is one doomed for collapse. I believe we need to move beyond the roots and instead create new knowledge, not by abandoning the past, but by utilising it in a way that no single part depends upon another.

One might pontificate that knowledge exists to evolve, but what if we approach knowledge as being independent of its purpose. Rather than measuring knowledge by its reiteration and resilience in the fave of scrutiny, we can view it as interconnected while retaining its independence.

Can we create new knowledge through linking networks of knowledge that are seemingly unrelated? How might one approach the creation of knowledge in a way that does not depend on antiquated thought?

Knowledge is a by-product of thought, which itself is a by-product of the bodymind. If we desire to queer knowledge, we must first queer the bodymind. This requires us to abandon the politics of our own existence and instead explore our own reality.

Through exploration of the Self, we are able to tweak and alter the bodymind. This, in turn, will alter our thoughts and, thus, knowledge production. By abandoning the arborescence of our own thoughts, we can abandon the roots of antiquated knowledge.

To liberate humanity, we must liberate thought and knowledge. We must escape the branching nature of our current system of knowledge and instead explore the coherence of our entire knowledge base rather than focusing on small details. When we can embrace the connectivity of everything, we can wield knowledge as the tool it should always have been.

Normative society has standardised thought to control the direction of knowledge. To be free of normativity, we must first free our thoughts and knowledge.

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Neurodivergence, disability, and the politics of existence

Neuroqueer theory has been the single most important idea to emerge from the academic circles of neurodiversity into my own life. I say that with a hint of irony; neurodiversity is my life. It’s all our lives. Neurodiversity is a fact of human existence. Yet, to not perform to a cultures normative standards, neurotypically, is a disability.

The cold, hard truth of being neurodivergent is that you are disabled. This doesn’t mean that there is an issue within your body that requires fixing. It doesn’t mean that you are worth less. It does mean that the world will be a harsh place.

This is particularly problematic for those who engage in neuroqueering. The further away from that pinnacle performance of neurotypicality that we get, the more labels of pathology that society will paste onto us. To diverge from normality is to have a relationship with the world that is, at best, indifferent to your pain and, at worst, violently hateful.

In my own opinion, this has to do with the way that society frames deviation from the status quo. As soon as we decondition ourselves or fail to assimilate, we are dehumanised and discriminated against. We are told that our experiences are not valid and that our pain is our own fault.

This neatly absolves the powers that be of any responsibility for the suffering they inflict on neurodivergent people. Disability (to my mind) arises not only from obstacles in the environment but also from volatile and harmful relationships within that environment.

One of the most disabling things about being neurodivergent is the way that society frames our existence.

Our existence is able to be framed as such because there is a distinct power imbalance in our world. It’s not enough to tackle ableism and autistiphobia. We must also dismantle the bigotry and oppressive system that have infected and affected our society en masse.

You can not tackle disability as an issue without tackling white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, or any form of bigotry. We have to decolonise in order to make the world accessible. All of these forms of hatred and discrimination play a role in the way that neurodivergent people are framed by society.

This is the nature of difference. Because society has a toxic relationship with difference and diversity, we are disabled for not assimilating.

The time has come to not just queer ourselves, but queer society. By abandoning the false hierarchies created by our capitalist systems in the west, we can embrace the anarchy of bringing the fringe to the centre. We can start this in our own communities by Embracing neuro-anarchy and breaking free of the normativity within our own circles.

The first step to decolonisation is to look inwards at our own environment.

We need to consider what parts of neurodivergent culture are helpful and what parts have arisen from the politicising of our existence. We can give rise to a society that is kinder to all, a world where difference is not a disability, but the first step is to realise our own role in that oppression.

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Neurodivergence and Normality: The meaning of words

“I understand now that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention if only one can first conceive of doing so.”

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

The neurodiversity movement is predicated on three deceptively simple ideas:

  • There are as many variations of the human mind as there are humans.
  • Those who can not perform to neurotypical standards are neurodivergent.
  • Neurodivergent people deserve equity and inclusion in our shared environment.

Upon this premise, an entire collective culture of shared knowledge and community-connectedness has blossomed. Creating spaces where neurodivergent people have, for the first time, felt they belong. For many of us, including myself, it has been not just life-changing. It has saved us from an early demise.

But what is neurotypicality? What is it exactly that we diverge from?

Neurotypicality is a performance. It is a set of normative ideas that we have come to accept as “normal”. While those normative ideas my change based on the local environments culture, the truth remains that the word “normal” has been weilded as a weapon to justify the dehumanisation and oppression of all who can not, or will not, assimilate.

Normality is itself a social construct. It is an abstract entity. It is not measurable or tangible. While one could argue that normality is a word that represents that which most have on common, we could just as easily have given it the opposite meaning.

All words are essentially meaningless. The objective truth of a words meaning is something of a social contract between ourselves and those around us. For the context of this essay, let us take normality or “normal” to mean the most commonly found attributes of a given population.

In this sense, Autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people are abnormal. We have diverged from normality, representing what is framed by wider society as an aberration in the status quo. On the basis of this, a global industrial complex has risen up in order to not only force our assimilation into normality but also turn that endeavour into a profitable business.

How does one move forward when the world is at odds with your existence?

Even in neurodivergent communities, we frame ourselves through our differences. Celebrating the idea that we are different to that which normativity requires. While their is beauty to be found in such an existence, I believe that we must transcend the limitations of normality. Not through our difference, but instead by our assertion that “normal” does not exist.

We are not different because of our lack of normality. We are different because we embrace individuality and diversity. The difference between normality and normativity is semantic in nature. Normality is the attractive package that is gifted to us to take into our home. We must challenge normativty at its core and not at its surface.

To move into a post-normal society, one must first be able to conceive of such a place. We must establish new boundaries that turn the sound of normality into background noise. Drowning out normative beliefs with the voices of those that refuse to assimilate.

This, of course, presents a problem for not just neurotypical society but also neurodivergent communities. Even in our own culture, there exists a kind of essentialism in the idea that you are either neurotypical or neurodivergent. In a post-normal world, words like “divergent” and “typical” become redundant. If we have no preconceived notions of normality, then there is no need for a counter-culture. There is nothing to assimilate into.

Such a world would allow for the emancipation of neurodivergent communities but fundamentally alter the meaning of what it means to be neurodivergent. We would not be connecting over our differences but rather our shared culture. Such culture is difficult to quantify at this stage because we still have a long way to travel.

For now, this kind of neurofuturism may sound naively utopian, perhaps even dystopian, depending on your outlook. If I can be sure of one thing, it’s that it’s time for us to conceive of a world beyond normality. It is the first step on a journey toward a world where the oppression of neurodivergent people is no longer possible.

Neuroqueering religion and the liberation of human spirituality

When considering normative violence and the oppression of marginalised people, there are no greater perpetrators than the Christian Church. Allow me to put this in perspective. My mother is a priest, I was raised devoutly Christian, and until my mid-twenties, I had a strong relationship with the Christian idea of God. Sadly, my step away from Christianity was an inevitability. I had never understood their disdain for other cultures, religions, and gender and sexual identities. As a person who had never fit in, the exclusionary doctrine of the church felt very alienating for me.

Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, who is platformed as the Son of God in Christianity. Through western, colonial, misappropriation of his teachings, eurocentric cultures have come to view Jesus as a passive, meek, and mild-mannered man. The idea of “love thy neighbour” is displayed as a call for passive acceptance of the world, rather than the fight to liberate all humans from what was, and still is, an oppressive system of normative bias.

Christians don’t like it when you point out that Jesus was a man who flipped tables and casually intervened in public executions.

So how does this fit into neuroqueering?

Neuroqueer theory teaches us that it is possible to subvert normative cultural standards. In the case of Christianity, those standards are passive indifference or overt displays of bigotry. For me, this cannot be allowed.

If I believe in any God, it is a God who created us all equal. Read that again. They created us ALL equal. That is if there was any intentionality in our existence before.

Since all religion is socially constructed, arising from human perception of what they believe to be the word of God, or Gods, this means that there is no invalid form of spirituality. There should be no one-size-fits-all approach to how we practice that spirituality.

Take the bits that work for you. Combine them and shape them. Mould them. If you want to be a Christian who celebrates Samhain and Solstice, go for it. Perhaps you have your own entirely unique spirituality? That’s fine, too. Build a spirituality that works for you without hurting others. Do as ye will, an it harm none. Explore culture and faith. Break free of the constraints of organised religion. Enter a world where humans can express and body their spiritual lives in infinite ways.

This is vital. If we are going to liberate the oppressed from the systemic violence of a normative world, all parts of human culture must be liberated. While any single one of us, while any aspect of our lives, is imprisoned by normativity, none of us are free. Allow your mind to explore itself. Embrace the Chaotic Self, and parlé your spirit into physical form through exploration and expression of your unique mind.

There are infinite variations of the human mind, meaning that there are infinite versions of human spirituality. Any attempt to confine us into a prefabricated spiritual reality is a terrible thing.

Cure culture and normative attitudes towards Autistic people

Nothing sickens me more than people who believe that being Autistic requires intervention. The idea that we have to “improve” an Autistic person’s “skills” is in inherently ableist. Where does this ableism come from?

The truth of the matter is that as we edge closer and closer to a post-normal society, those who have succumbed to normativity fight hard to preserve the world that they believe is “right”. We have been taught that deviation from cultural norms is a disorder, but this is an abject lie.

Society has been built upon a foundation of bigotry and oppression of minorities. When we subscribe to the idea that Autistic people are suffering or in need of intervention, we further that belief. We have centred our own normative ideas into disabled people and made our internalised bigotry their problem.

When we can recognise that the problem is not the Autistic person, we are then able to externalise the issue into the environment. If you want to know why Autistic people are suffering, look no further than their experiences of the wider world and their immediate environment.

The responsibility is not on Autistic people to assimilate into society. The responsibility lies with society to make space for the inclusion of Autistic people.

Every time you empower the curists, you set a blockade on our path to progress. If you are reading this thinking “but you’re not like my child” I would respond with this-

No, I am not, I am an adult. I would ask you to consider why you believe your child is abnormal, where you learned your standards of normalcy from, and why you believe normality to be so important. We have a right to grow and change into whoever we wish to be. No one should be trying to control our expression of the Self, or the way we think and relate to the world.

I ask only one thing of my readers. Please step away from the concept of normal. Recognise that all normality measures is how comfortably we can serve a society that doesn’t give a damn about us.

If we can’t operate at the right level of productivity, without causing a nuisance to other people, we are written off. This is the world that curists want us to fit into, a world that would sooner destroy us than make space for us to exist as whole people.

We have a write to our Self.

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