Neurodiversity

Articles about interesting research, personal experiences, and societal acceptance of ASD, ADHD, etc.

This artist ( pina@adhd-alien.com ) does the best job I have ever seen of communicating what ADHD really is, and is like. We baffle and disappoint ourselves and the people and structures we need in our lives. Every hour of the day is a neurological roulette wheel. Here’s a link to her site.

I would be grateful to anyone who casually imagines they know what ADHD is like, to read several of these. I would simply like as many people as possible to better understand this disorder. It’s weirder and more limiting than you think.

It’s WAY more than inattention, and let me tell you, it isn’t lack of effort. We are 11% of the population and stories of effective treatment have been greatly exaggerated. The person in these cartoons is ON her meds.

Friends, family, and even total strangers confidently inform us that our problem isn’t real. Everybody thinks they get it, and even professionals in education and mental health often lazily ASSUME they get it with no research since 1993.

It’s like mental multiple sclerosis but we just look like we’re ditzy, and not trying hard enough.

 

 

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Mean exactly what they sound like: Fear of the new and Love of the new.

They aren’t cute made-up words, they are technical terms from biology. Animal ethologists (they study behavior) coined them because they needed to describe a common trait variation. Within a species, there are individuals who exhibit an openness to novelty. They try different foods, different hunting or mating techniques, for example. This is Neophilia.

The only way we could notice this is against a background of “by the book ” individuals. These are not risk-takers, these are ones who typically define “normal behavior “. Whenever an animal’s general survival strategy and behavior is described, it ‘s the story of the Neophobes. But the deeper story is that Neophiles, while they live risky and often unsuccessful lives as individuals are key to survival and evolution.

In fact, it ‘s likely that that the pattern lived out by the neophobes was initiated by neophiles. First, the neophile may simply hit upon a more successful approach, and thrive. Second, when the species experiences a crisis in food or health or predation, the neophiles are likelier to be “the resistant strain ” that survives. These are the two main reasons for subspecies variations. So if you imagine this heretical thought; that life, rather being the 100% dumb luck festival of the neo-Darwinians, has strategic algorithms for success, then these observations make perfect sense. Where or how these exist and operate is not my problem here. When patterns predictably exist in nature there are underlying causes to be found. If you follow this blog you know that my vaguely mystical point of view is not pointing to a “god did it ” conclusion and is not content with a “mere coincidence ” explanation.1 Continue reading

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  • He has Parkinson’s
  • She has epilepsy
  • He’s schizophrenic
  • She’s autistic 

No, it’s not the setup for this years wackiest RomCom.

It seems one might possess Parkinson’s like a teacup chihuahua or a classic mustang whereas autism is who you are. You could make the case that autism or schizophrenia dramatically shape your personality in a way that defines you, while the other two do not…but you’d be wrong. The communities of caregivers surrounding them commonly describe what they know as the Parkinsonian and epileptic personalities. What decides this automatic and unnoticed distinction between Being a disorder and Having a disorder?

How can you be a diagnosis? The taxonomy of neurological types used to label people aren’t real things that people can “be”. They are checklists where we matched the diagnostic criteria enough to call the result positive. “Enough” might be 4 out 7 matches, for example. Diagnostic criteria are simply a collection of behaviors and bio-metrics accepted by the medical community. It’s rather like asking hunters (the hunting community?) the 7 most distinct characteristics of deer. That might be kind of fun but the heuristic is: “I know one when I see one”.

Different neurologies are utterly real but neurological types are descriptions, the names for vertices of behavioral parabolas distinct enough to contrast sharply against normal. Normal is the smooth melted butter river of behaviors we mostly can’t even notice because of how overwhelmingly common they are. Normal isn’t a thing either, it is a thing that’s going on.  Normal is a strange state, only seen clearly when it is held next to things that are not… a bit like a black light held over a motel bed. Normal isn’t a cool matter-of-fact background to things. Normal is the thing we fear when we make a terrible impression, Normal is the cop we all feel oddly guilty in front of. Normal is being home or cast out in exile. In meat-and-potatoes reality, there is no break from normality that calls for a celebration.

Throughout human existence Normal functioned as an immorality finder. Where immorality was uncovered, normal was declared missing…even for commonplace behaviors that simply got on the wrong side of something socially cherished. The other side of Normal’s coin is perversion of course. So Normal is tainted and muddled by being a measuring device cum moral cudgel. If you trace it back far enough you’ll find Normal describing primate pro-social behaviors that maximize pregnancies and group survival.

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