Wednesday, October 24, 2007

If Autistic was Neurotypical

First, to clarify - neurotypical basically means 'the majority neurological type' or reasonably close to that. The neurological type that our society considers neurotypical will, for the sake of clarity here, be called 'allistic', which means 'other-oriented' or focused on other people. It's important to note that some allistic people are not neurotypical in our society (such as Down Syndrome people).
With that sorted out, my question is - how would allistic people be viewed by a society where the typical brain type is some form of autistic?
Firstly, chances are allism would be considered a spectrum, from severely allistic to only mildly (mildly allistic people might be what we'd call mildly autistic, actually). And the spectrum concept would understate the variability. Variation in things which in our society are just considered 'personality' or other stuff would be used as determinants of severity of allism.
Autistic people would function better. They may even be people who, if born in our society, would find it very difficult to speak and/or do basic self-care activities who in that society would have no difficulties. The few autistics who did have trouble functioning would for the most part have trouble for reasons that were not considered part of being autistic, even if in our society their difficulties would be considered due to autism.
In contrast, allistic people would have trouble functioning. In fact, some allistics who in our society would do just fine might have difficulty with skills considered just as basic as speech and self-care. Allistic people we'd consider to have a disability of some kind as well as being allistic would in that society be considered simply allistic, or perhaps described as having 'syndromal allism'. Some syndromes would have markedly different effects simply because of the different genetic background and environmental context. For example, people with Down Syndrome would be less often allistic than they are in our society - though some of the typical effects of DS would contribute to a higher rate of allism among them than the general population (for example, DS people are, on average, slightly more sociable).
Allistic people would be viewed as unhappy, partly because they are upset by things considered normal (and many things autistics are normally upset by would be accomodated and prevented to the point of being invisible) and partly because it must be 'so horrible' to be disabled. People would describe an allistic child's separation anxiety in ways that totally distort what's actually going on, or even if they figure out a fairly accurate explanation they'd view it as indicative of a deficit of some kind. There would be treatments designed to help with separation anxiety, completely ignoring the adverse effects on attachment. Attachment would likely also be impaired simply because the autistic parents don't understand their child and the basic reciprocal interaction between parent and child is more difficult as a result. Things due to the problems allistics have in an autistic society would be viewed as inherent to allism, though in our society they're only rarely, if at all, seen.
Some allistics might say that allism isn't really a bad thing, and would get accused of opposing chemotherapy and so forth. Some allistics would say that their kind of allism is fine and even valuable, but we don't want the severely allistic people. Allistics might try to imagine a society designed for people like them - how much like ours would it be?
This is my entry for the Disability Blog Carnival, which has the theme 'If...'

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Blogger - said...

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12:20 PM  
Blogger - said...

Not saying you're wrong, but could you explain how some allistic people have problems with things like speech and self-care in an autistic society? I suppose having ways of teaching tailored to autistic learning styles might delay speech some but otherwise...

12:21 PM  
Blogger Pieplup said...

@Tracey same way that autistics have trouble with self-care, because society isn't made for them.

11:12 AM  

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