Full Circle

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How well do you know your own neuro-type? 

Recently I was having a nice discussion with my friend and fellow blogger Rich, of Neuortypical? No Way! , we have been talking about doing some writing together and have a project on the burner. I was taking my break at work, which is a great time for us to chat, since we live on opposite sides of the Earth and our time zones don’t work well together (see, not everything about working nights is terrible).The result of that conversation was really interesting, and I have asked him to write with me about what happened that night. You will see Rich’s comments in bold type.

During that discussion Rich asked me if I had ever considered that I might be on the Spectrum. Admittedly I have some Spectrum traits and the idea has certainly crossed my mind on more than one occasion. Rich then shared with me a website where you can take a test and the program will then show you a graph of your neuro-type.

Hi readers of Trish’s wonderful blog. I’m Richard, or as Trish calls me Rich, I am 45 year old Âûtistic man, I can’t recall exactly who happened to message first, me or Trish but I read Trish’s wonderful entry floating, her discription of the sensory experience got me thinking. Knowing Trish’s young fellow was autistic got the grey matter going. I asked Trish if she had ever done any of the online tests. It turned out that she had thought about it, I provided her a link to the test and the results you see below.

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The is a very intimate look at my mind. My personal neuro-type map.

As you can see, my brain is a big empty space… I mean really well balanced between neurotypical and neurodiverse. Rich was also kind enough to share his neurotype with me.

You can sure see a big difference between our two graphs can’t you. Whilst Trish has a nice balance showing what seems to be a real even mix between neurodivergent and nuerotypical. You see I just flit into the neurotypical side a teeny tiny little bit. It’s really interesting to see these graphs next to each other. 

Rich's Neuro Type Map
Rich’s neuro-type map

Then a coworker took an interest in my brainy conversation and asked if she could also take the test. Before long pretty much the whole night shift was taking their break and discovering their own neurology. The interesting thing was that half of them scored as neurodiverse.

I have this image of a bunch of health professionals queuing up to take this test. The test itself is a pretty thorough question about the way you think, behave, socialise, etc. It is important to think that it is a self-diagnostic tool and not something that should be used on its own but it is still an insightful and self-revealing experience. I have actually gone through this test a few times. Each time it my results are very similar so I do have a level of faith in its ability to measure accurately. 

Needless to say though the moment of hitting the submit and get results button does always have a level of anxiety attached. 

Suddenly everyone was talking about neurodiversity. Not the scary verbiage that certain profiteering associations are so busily monetizing, but comfortable easy discussion about how we all think and feel differently. It seems that when “normal” people are able to see that their thinking crosses over the lines of neurotypical and neurodiverse, autism becomes a lot less scary and strange. People were talking. There was a lot of, “I do that too!” Going around.

I kind of hinted at it before but it is important to state again I think that we should not see this as a true diagnostic tool. But again having said that you should indeed have some confidence that the results produced have a measure of accuracy. One thing that needs to be said too of course is that when one talks of what neurodiverse means it is not just a simple state of autistic or allistic (non-autistic). Neurodiversity is actually the sum total of neurology across the whole range of humanity. If you think of it like this, any group of people who get together will be neurodiverse because every single person has a unique neurology, even though within the confines of what is termed neurotypical. 

So to call autistics neurodiverse is not quite correct but a mistake that is often made. The more correct term is neurodivergent, i.e., their neurology is divergent to typical. We get a result then that we can in fact have a neurodiverse group of neurodivergent people. Is your head hurting yet?

Another thing to take note of is that neurodivergent is not in fact synonymous with Autistic. Allistic people can also be neurodivergent. Think AD(h)D, OCD, Scitzophenic for example.

rainbowI like to think that we all learned something that night. We learned that the mind is a complex and strange place that isn’t as easy as left and right. It’s a mistake to think of a puzzle piece when you think of ASD. The spectrum isn’t broken. People are not puzzles. The spectrum of a  rainbow is a perfect circle. If you only see the arc, you have missed half of the wonder of being alive. We are all on the Spectrum. Isn’t that beautiful?

In terms of the spectrum there is a kind of shared understanding that it is like a linear thing. It just isn’t that. I think that it is more like an acknowledgement that in fact there is an infinite number of combinations of neurologies that come together in the autistic neurology. 

We often hear, even within the autistic community about High Functioning, Low Functioning, Aspergers, Severe, Mild, Verbal, Non Verbal etc. In reality there are infinite possibilities of functioning for each of us on every single day. The Autistic community, particular those of us within the advocacy area are calling for the disagreeing of these labels as there don’t help us and often hinder us.

To give a personal example: I have always been verbal and would typically be considered a High Functioning Autistic. But, it’s just not that simple as in some situations I go totally non verbal, I am unable to get my words to work. It’s a very odd thing to attempt to describe. Imagine if you can being able to see the words you want to say almost sitting behind your eyes but being unable to get them to move from there to the mouth and out into the world. This most often occurs when sensory overwhelmed or in a close to shut down or melt down moment. 

Another example is an Âûtistic Advocate who has spent much of her life, discounted, silenced and set aside as incapable, intellectually disabled, and unable to care for herself. But nothing could be further from the truth. Thankfully this wonderful lady has found her voice through alternative communication methods. 

Unfortunately the urban myth that non-verbal means low functioning, and verbal means high functioning. It is also used to sideline and silence Âûtistic voices, most often unfortunately by parents of so called severe autistic kids, essentially what is said is “oh you’re so high functioning so you don’t understand my child, you don’t know what it’s like”. Sad but true.

So whilst it is partly true we are all on a spectrum – and we are- the human spectrum, it is also true that we are or we are not Âûtistic. We can’t be kind of Âûtistic, or a little bit Âûtistic. It’s not an add on it’s a way of being that either is or isn’t. Whilst some allistic people will have some leaning in they have some traits that is not the same as actually being Âûtistic.

I think the really great part of that though is that whilst they are not Âûtistic these people give an ability to hear and understand and be true allies of Âûtistic people. And that is an incredible wonderful thing.

Want to know your own mind? Take the test here!

This Article was originally published on Three Hands on Heart at http://threehandsoneheart.com/2015/07/30/full-circle/

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