Neurotypical Privilege


I discussed the traits of the neurotypical, people who have typical neurological development and the default neurotype of most humans. A neurotypical is said to be the ‘normal’ kind of human beings, whereas, those that do not fit in the neurotypical traits, are called neurodiverse or neurodivergent people, different or deviating from the normal people.

I came across this term used by neurodivergent activists who seek equality with the neurotypicals the way African Americans and LGBTs have done previously. This term is called neurotypical privilege akin to ‘white previlege’.

Neurotypical privilege is the preference of normally developed human beings over humans with known neurological disabilities. At first, of course, neurotypicals are easier to deal with because they are easy to manage, and no special treatment or adjustments be made for neurodiverse people. But this also poses a problem for the neurodiverse. This scenario makes the neurodivergent think that they are undesirable and an omen to fellow humans.

I do understand why schools, offices, and even peers reject neurodiverse people. We are a minority and to have neurodevelopmental disabilities would mean a burden to them especially at this time of economic recession. Most office setups are designed for the team-playing, people loving neurotypicals. Let me give myself as an example. (See my related post). During my short stay as an on-the-training case management, I was not properly oriented; instead, I was set off to work right away. What I didn’t know at that time is that case managers do jobs similar to call center agents (that’s the unfriendliest job for someone on the autism spectrum, maybe I’ll have to write another post for this), which of course, I failed to do as I have moderate speech difficulties. I admit that I can’t read verbal and nonverbal communication, and I am a fool enough to repeatedly apply for call center jobs again and again with of course quick resignation afterwards. Anyway, to cut it short, my boss forced me to resign just because I have ADHD. Of course, I became depressed and angry that I wanted to sue my former employer, but unfortunately, I cannot do so because I have no evidence and sadly, the Philippine law on persons with disabilities (PWDs) have a protection law for neurodiverse people, except for the emoyer discretion to dismiss him/her if found not able to do such work.

…Qualified Individual with a Disability shall mean an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodations, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires. However, consideration shall be given to the employer’s judgement as to what functions of a job are essential, and if an employer has prepared a written description before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job, this description shall be considered evidence of the essential functions of the job;[1]

Sadly, that is my case and I have planned to share this experience to an ADHD support group this Saturday.

But I do feel prejudiced also because when you think differently from the rest of the crowd, you ought to not belong there especially for people-oriented jobs. For neurotypicals, it is implied that you know how to manage people by intuition. Unfortunately, the neurotypical office environment is a warzone to the neurodivergent.

In my experience, that is so very true. I feel like I’m envious of neurotypicals because they ‘have it all.’ But this idea is bad as it makes you, neurodiverse, ashamed of yourself, and thus doesn’t help in your well being.

But whatever neurodiverse people have experienced, it’s still the neurotypical who wins. That’s neurotypical privilege. And what do some of them do to neurodiverse? Discrimination with a name: ableism (or disableism in the UK). This is way similar to racism and sexism and other sorts of -isms against people who are perceived different from the typical/normal/usual person.

Even at the age of human rights, most of the neurodiverse people still face many forms of ableism, like limiting the type of jobs for them, avoiding them as friends or lovers, or denying access to health insurance, and worst is institutionalizing even the high-functioning groups. Although persons with neurodevelopmetal disabilities have certain limitations, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re inherently weak.

Therefore, neurodiverse people should spread more awareness to the privileged that the latter might give the former more chance to live a life without much prejudice. This has been started and hope it will be spread to the rest of the world. Ableism should be avoided as this is another form of discrimination.

1. http://www.ncda.gov.ph/disability-laws/republic-acts/republic-act-7277/#sthash.seVrh6eN.dpuf

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