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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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Neuroqueer theory and the liberation from Self-Interest

Neuroqueer theory liberates Neurodivergent people on many levels. It allows us to explore the topography of the Self with startling attention to detail, and to embody our discovery of the Self in a way that feels authentic to us. This doesn’t always mean in a typically Neurodivergent way, and in fact, one may find themselves breaking conventions of their own communities in their journey to the Chaotic Self and a neuroqueerer lifestyle. Some might falsely assume that neuroqueering means doing what you want, when you want, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Neuroqueer theory invites us to consider the nature of truth and explore it’s meaning in our own lives.

Hedonism has been a long-running theme in the human zeitgeist. We have incorrectly assumed that happiness comes from the fulfillment of desire. This has been held as truth by many, but the nature of truth is far more complicated than what society has taught us. Truth is, in itself, a human construct. We have developed our understanding of truth through millennia of of scientific and philosophical inquiry. The thing is, truth is not a naturally occurring thing. It is a label invented by humanity that dictates what should or should not happen. Truth in itself is the basis of all normativity. It is built upon a set of “truths”, truth in this context has been used as a tool of oppression. It has taught us to place our own interests before those of society at large.

Neuroqueer theory liberates us from that truth by showing us the socially constructed nature of not just things we hold to be true, but the very concept of truth itself. When we place objective truth to the side, we are left with our own subjective experiences. The solipsistic nature of human experience is that the only truth we can be sure of is that which we experience ourselves. This is how it invites us to build community and culture that emancipates Neurodivergent people from neuronormativity. We start with the knowledge that what we experience can be known to be true. We can then link those experiences up to that of others through our shared embodiment of those experiences.

From this, community grows, and culture arises. Perhaps the greatest failure of society is the insistence that one person’s experience is more true than another. This highlights the importance of abandoning self-interest. If all experience is true, then as humans we have a duty to ensure that the world we are building allows for positive experiences, such as happiness and fulfillment. In this way, we can see that doing what you want, when you want, is not neuroqueering. Neuroqueering asks us to dismantle the socially constructed normative attitudes that are conditioned into us from birth. It charges us to use our own liberation to liberate others.

I will tread the path so that you can find your way.

It asks us not to be leaders, but to clear the obstacles that befall those for whom the privilege of neuroqueering is not yet accessible.

A neuroqueer society is one that recognises the validity of one’s subjective truth. It accepts that my truth may be different to yours because my truth is constructed from different experiences than the ones you have had.

Neuroqueerness is more than a label, it is not an identifier for the unmasked Neurodivergent. Neuroqueerness is the responsibility to free all humans from the chains of normativity. It is the act of subverting objective truth through the understanding of it’s abstract and socially constructed nature. It pushes us to create a post-normal society in which all people can thrive, and find happiness beyond the fulfillment of material desire.

Until all of us are free, none of us are free.

Neuroqueer theory and the advent of social DEcontructivism

Neuroqueer theory is the idea that one can subvert normality by expressing and embodying the Self in ways that break free from the constraints of colonial society. It is a liberational practice that is accessible to all. No matter your neurocognitive style, you can subvert the expectations of what it means to be a “normal human”. By engaging in neuroqueering, we subvert the very idea of what is meant by the word “human” and explore the infinite diversity of our species. The first step to this is to recognise the social construction of all identity. We have to recognise that the way we identify ourselves, and our sense of Self, is entirely built upon the interpretation and expectations of others.

This opens up interesting conversations about the scope of social constructivism and objective truth. If all knowledge that builds our identity is socially constructed, how can one be sure of who they are?

In my book A Treatise on Chaos I discuss the Chaotic Self, the ever growing, ever changing sense of identity that we possess. I recognise that through our experiences and ongoing learning, our identity is a moving target. As social knowledge changes, so too does our sense of Self. I am not who I was ten years ago, and I will be someone different in another ten years. This highlights the importance of neuroqueer theory in the philosophical discourse of epistemology.

Neuroqueer theory might be reasonably assumed to tie into social constructivism, but in a more accurate sense it’s social deconstructivism. Neuroqueer theory is the art of deconstructing knowledge and creating new understandings. It liberates us from past notions and inter-generational trauma by considering that humanities primary purpose (if there is such a thing) is to adjust paradigms given new information. To consider it in other words, humanity exists to evolve beyond the constraints of cultural normativity.

This in itself becomes somewhat paradoxical. If neuroqueerness becomes the new normal, is it still neuroqueer?

My suggestion is no. By viewing neuroqueer theory as belonging to the idea of social deconstructivism, it can remain neuroqueer provided that it still pushes people to deconstruct socially acquired ideas of normality. A post-normal society requires us to escape from satisfaction. It encourages us to question information, and approach life through a critical lens. For neuroqueer theory to work we must be critical of all assumed normality. It tells us that there is no liberation until we deconstruct societies marginalisation of all minority groups. Beyond that, we must dismantle the oppression of humanity by those that deem themselves to be the higher power of our perceived social hierarchy.

When one begins to delve into neuroqueer theory, you begin to dismantle all that you have held to be true. This means that social deconstruction is a painful process. Like all growth, it leaves you with an ache. It becomes necessary to embrace your existential pain and sit with it as you explore your own subjective truth. This, perhaps, is what people struggle with the most.

(Mis)perceptions of reality: Autism, psychosis, and my quest for objective truth

For as long as I can remember, I have been preoccupied with the difference between truth, and mistruth. Long before my psychosis began, I wanted to know how the things we held to be true could be proven as objectively true; it seemed to me that truth was in the eye of the beholder.

Six months after my 18th birthday, I discovered that my reality was a shifting and changing experience.

The problem with psychosis is that you don’t know it is happening. You literally experience an alternative reality. What this taught me was that things I held to be true were entirely subjective, which brought me to the realisation that everyone’s interpretation of truth was subjective.

Consider the boundary between truth and mistruth. It is abstract, a non-entity. Said boundary is entirely built from the collective experience of humanity, an experience which is in itself subjective.

Where those experiences intersect and agree, we label it objective truth. How then can we construct truth from a mind such as mine? One in which reality is a malleable and fluid thing. My Autistic Self has been preoccupied with this for many years, and truthfully I am still searching for answers.

Perhaps, then, it is reasonable to argue objective truth in terms of Descartes? “I think, therefore I am”. Of course this is made more complicated by the after-the-fact functioning of consciousness; and yet, I have often found myself drawn to a sort of solipsism during times of crisis.

Thus, we are left with the only thing I can hold to be objectively true from moment to moment. That my sense of identity, my experience of Self, at any given moment, is the only thing I can hold to be true. An identity that itself is constructed from interactions with my (mis)perceived reality.

So, when I argue the importance of community-connectedness, I am going beyond minority stress models, and beyond social reciprocity. For me, the communities I interact with, and the individuals that I speak with, are directly constructing my truth.

That is why the Autistic community is so vital to me. They have built the only thing that I know to be true.

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