Friday, July 31, 2009

Privilege: Edited Document

Many thanks to all who have contributed to the working document on neurotypical privilege. Because I want this to be accessible to as many people as possible, I would like to make it available through, ASAN's website, and any other site that would like to use it. While a few people have already weighed in to advocate for keeping the entire list (at this time 261 points long!), others have remarked that it becomes hard to read at a certain point. I believe that 50 items is about the maximum for ease of reading and comprehension. I have made an attempt at a first edit by choosing those items I believe best illustrate the core concept of NT privilege.

The document will be open here for review for a period of one week. Everyone who has contributed, or would like to contribute will have the opportunity to critique the list, and to make arguments for including other points. Those items which receive multiple votes or especially well reasoned arguments will be given extra consideration. The longer list will remain here, and will be linked from the sidebar for easy access.

Suggested questions for discussion:

Which points from the unedited list (not included in this one) are most important to you, and why?

Are there points on this list you would choose to remove in favor of others?

Would the list be equally effective with 60 points? More than that?

Does the document need a different title? Someone has suggested that "neurotypical" be replaced with "neuroconvergent." Personally, I am not fond of the term "neurotypical," as I think it lacks accuracy. However, it is a term many people have become familiar with, and I hesitate to introduce a less familiar term. I don't see "non-autistic" as a good choice in this case, either. Suggestions, anyone?

Note: While civil dissenting opinions are generally welcome at Asperger Square 8, I will not be allowing comments on this post that deny the validity of the overall concept of neurotypical privilege, or in any way attempt to derail the discussion. Thank you for understanding.

The Checklist of Neurotypical Privilege

Since its publication in 1988, Peggy McIntosh’s essay, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, has come to be seen as a standard tool for examining the often unacknowledged advantages conferred on the white majority. The article has since been adapted to reflect the advantages of many other majority groups, spawning lists of straight, thin, cisgender, class, (temporarily) able-bodied and other forms of privilege. As far as I know, the advantages of being neurotypical or neuroconvergent have not previously been listed in a systematic way, with the goal of encouraging a similar analysis.
This explains the genesis of this list, but not its reason for being. As autistic adults, we have often found ourselves excluded from organizations claiming to speak for us. We have been told that our thoughts and experiences are of no value in general discussions of autism. Autistic adults who dare to speak openly on topics related to autism are often treated with condescension, ridicule and disdain. Autistic children are restrained in isolation rooms, bullied not only by peers but by teachers, while some of us have been told this is not our concern. Autistic adults are tasered by police for their communication and movement differences. Every year, autistic children and adults are murdered for no reason other than their neurology. A life in which a person can be fairly sure these things will not happen to her/him is a privileged life. Having one’s views taken seriously on these subjects is another example of privilege.
In compiling this list, I have been acutely aware that the topic of privilege is one many people find hard to digest. For anyone who has not come across the concept before, or who feels that he or she does not fully understand what it means in this context, I highly recommend reading the original McIntosh article in its entirety before beginning the list of neurotypical privilege presented here. For those who find themselves feeling defensive upon reading, you are not alone. For most of us, this is a necessary part of the process of acknowledging and understanding privilege. Here are a few basic things to remember about privilege:
Privilege is not your fault. It is an artifact of systems that favor some people over others, systems that have evolved naturally to meet the needs of the majority, but have failed to provide adequate accommodations for those outside it.

Privilege is not, in itself, a terrible thing. Having any form of privilege does not make you a bad person. Just about everyone has some form of privilege. (No, that doesn’t mean it all somehow “balances out.”)
The statement that privilege exists is not an accusation or attempt to blame. It is an invitation to see your experiences and the experiences of others in a new light. It is not an admonition to change the world, but a simple tool with which to begin considering if, possibly, some changes might be worth working toward.
Checklist of Neurotypical Privilege

1. My family, friends, and significant others are not told that I am incapable of relating to other human beings.

2. I have never been told, because of my neurology, that I am incapable of feeling pain.

3. For a child of my neurotype, everyday teaching of the skills they will need to live in this society is called education or parenting—not therapy or treatment.

4. People do not constantly tell me that I need to work on the things which I am very bad at, at the expense of things which I am good at and enjoy doing.

5. I can reveal to my boss and coworkers that I am neurotypical (NT), without fear of losing my job.

6. If I am an adult, I can be a sexual being without the assumption that any partner attracted to me must be a predator or pedophile.

7. I am never told that I should not have children, lest I pass on the genes that cause them to be like me.

8. No one speculates about whether I am competent to raise children based solely on my neurology.

9. People do not assume that living in the same household as me is inherently “tragic” or “devastating,” or that my family, friends and partner will need a support group to deal with living with me.

10. If I have relationship problems or get divorced, people do not automatically assume that my neurology was the sole or main cause for these problems.

11. People of my neurology are not generally considered burdensome to our families.

12. People of my neurology are not generally considered burdensome to tax-payers.

13. Nobody will murder me because of my neurology.

14. If I am murdered, my murderer will not be let off because my murder was deemed “an act of mercy,” or given a light sentence because of the stress caused by interacting with me.

15. People do not automatically assume that the best place for me to live is an institution.

16. If I am bullied or abused, people will not assume that my neurology means I am at least partially to blame, or that the abuse would stop if I tried harder to behave like someone else.

17. If I have a medical problem, I do not worry that my doctor will dismiss it as part of my neurotypicality.

18. When attempting to purchase health insurance, I know that I will not be rejected because I am NT.

19. The majority of people who make the laws of my nation share my neurology.

20. I can assume that police officers will not become alarmed at my natural body language, and find it necessary to subdue me in advance of any wrongdoing.

21. I do not have to carry a special card or bracelet with me that explains my natural body movements or the sounds I naturally make.

22. The services that I need to survive not only already exist, but even if I use those services on a 24-hour basis, I will always be considered independent.

23. When I need help performing a particular task, I can ask for help without having to produce documentation to prove I actually need help with it. The help will most often be provided in a manner I can understand, and will not be considered an inconvenience or an act of pity.

24. If I fail to understand autistic people, this is attributed to a deficit inherent in autistic people, rather than in me.

25. If I have a particular talent or ability, I can demonstrate that talent without being called an “idiot savant” or my talent being called a “splinter skill” or some other demeaning word.

26. The definitions of rude and irritating conduct were developed by and for people with my neurology.

27. I am not praised for acting less neurotypical, or punished for acting more neurotypical.

28. I am not expected to alter or suppress my natural ways of moving, interacting or expressing emotion in most circumstances.

29. If I fail to alter or suppress my natural ways of moving, interacting or expressing emotion, I do not fear public ridicule or exclusion because of this.

30. I will not be asked to leave a space, or to change where I live, because people are uncomfortable with my neurotypical behaviors.

31. When prospective parents and others speak of wanting a “healthy child,” I know that they mean a child like me.

32. No one sees my neurology as being in need of prevention, treatment, or cure.

33. People don't accuse me of grandiosity or derisively dismiss it if I suggest that some admirable historical figure might have been neurotypical.

34. It is considered good for people who are not like me, to try to act more like me.

35. Even if I completely lack a conscience, I am automatically considered less dangerous than autistic people.

36. My natural movements and traits are not used by my peers to ridicule others of their neurological type, either jokingly or maliciously.

37. I can assume that most restaurants, theaters, stores and other places I would like to go will not be so loud or brightly lit or crowded that I will become unable to function at a basic level.

38. My behaviors, abilities, and skill levels at age 2 or 3 are considered indicative of an immature phase of life that will pass naturally, not as representative of my prognosis for the rest of life.

39. I am never told that the fact I have a certain cognitive skill means that I am lying when I say I lack another cognitive skill. Nor am I dismissed as incapable of things I truly can do, because I lack certain cognitive skills.

40. I can discuss my interests at length without being seen as strange or obsessive.

41. If I am visibly upset, people generally assume something must have upset me, and will generally try to help me.

42. If someone of my neurology commits a crime, people do not automatically assume I am more likely to commit a similar crime.

43. If someone of my neurology can do something well, I will not be punished for being unable to do the same thing well or at all.

44. If I am unhappy, people do not automatically assume my unhappiness is directly caused by my neurology.

45. People do not suggest that groups that are made for the benefit of people of my neurological type be lead and ruled by people of a different neurological type, because mine is inherently incapable.

46. I expect people to presume intellect and competence with me.

47. If I fail, most will encourage me by telling me that I will ultimately succeed.

48. I do not have to fear that important decisions about my life will be made by autistic or other non-neurotypical people, just because I am neurotypical.

49. I have never had to take a single test that determines, for my entire lifetime, whether I get to communicate.

50. When I communicate, people do not gather in crowds around me and gawk.

Definition of terms

Majority: The dominant group.

Minority: (1) A racial, religious, political, national, or other group thought to be different from the larger group of which it is part; (2) A group having little power or representation relative to other groups within a society; (3) a member of one of these groups.

Neurotypical: (1) Having a type of neurology that is expected and/or favored by the society in which one lives. (i.e., having a “normal” or “typical” brain, and the typical sensory processing/body movements/facial expressions associated with a typical neurological system.)

We: (1) The people who helped to create this document—most of us autistic or with other less typical neurology; (2) those who support the recognition of human rights for autistic people and others with less typical neurology.

This document was created by readers of Asperger Square 8. A more extensive list of neurotypical privilege can be found here.


  1. A good list. And I agree about shortening/consolidating it. Not an easy job.

    However I noticed you didn't include anything at all on holding down a job, and whose responsibility it is to make sure we are included. Given our very low employment rate, I don't think this can be left out. I think employment issues are just as important as relationship issues, and should be given equal weight.

  2. Thanks, Anemone,

    Employment is one of my major concerns, and you are right, only number 5 on this list speaks to that issue, whereas there are many points on relationship matters.

    I appreciate the input very much.

  3. Oh, that's right. I missed #5 somehow. That would be the Michelle Dawson item. ;) Can't leave that one out.

  4. "The article has since been adapted to reflect the advantages of many other minority groups."

    Did you mean to write "majority" here?

  5. Thanks for explaining the 'privilege' as I didn't get that either, although now I'm on the same page.

    That said [you did ask for input?] I think perhaps that there are a lot of other twits out there like me who might find 'privilege' a bit of a gulp. [don't want to put people off before they're read anything else]

    Do you think perhaps that 'critique' might be an alternative that everyone understands [the good, the bad and the ugly]? Obviously it's 'changes' everything but I keep thinking the 'privilege' would open up a real can of worms and the main message will be lost completely.

    Just a thought.

  6. Sorry, I've been thinking [always a bad sign!]

    Anyway, the other thing I thought on re-reading was how about the title 'bill of rights' although of course that's a bit American but it's certainly short and sweet and understood by everybody.


  7. Hi Rina,
    Yes, thanks for catching that.

    Yes, I understand what you are saying here. I am hoping that the explanation and links will help, as well as the parts of the introduction talking about how privilege is not anyone's fault, etc.

    Undoubtedly, quite a few people will be put off by the way this is stated. But I do believe it is important to maintain the parallel with the McIntosh article, as this is part of an effort to help the public view autism (as well as other disability categories)as a diversity issue. (I don't necessarily mean that that is the only type of issue to be considered, but it is one that concerns me, and a view that is underrepresented.)

    Admittedly, I am a bit of a sociology geek, and am sometimes guilty of using terms that confuse others who don't have that background or interest. If anyone has suggestions on how the introduction could be stated more clearly, I'd like to hear them.

    Thank you for your comment. I agree that this is something that needs to be approached with full understanding of the resistance with which such statements are usually met.

  8. I really like this version and think it's basically perfect.

    One small thing, though, is that I wish it included something specifically about employment. That's the area I've had the most trouble from my ASD.

  9. Thank you, Jaden. This is the second comment on this issue already, so I expect to be adding another point on employment. Do you have a preference from the longer list?

  10. When I read things about my privilege compared to other groups (like white privilege), what struck me most, and what really drove the whole concept well into my brain, and made me see the system behind it all, wasn't really the big stuff, like things about getting killed and torture and such, not because it's not important, but because it's so big and visible already (I mean more visible in comparison). What really kind of shocked me was the little, more 'everyday' stuff that is so much easier to miss when you have the privilege, like the touching of hair (from the white privilege list), the remarks about hair, the remarks about 'where are you from' and such. Just BECAUSE I'd missed that kind of stuff before. So I think those are important to have on the list too (not that there are none on it).

    I really worded this badly but I hope people can see what I meant in here, not what I can push from my brain out of my hands right now.

    And I think you should keep the term privilege, with the explanation and the links to other lists. It might be off-putting, but the people that can be reached, I truly believe, will come back, think twice, and come around to it anyway. I was offended by the idea at first, some time ago, before I even knew the term 'privilege', but after some time I could do nothing but accept it. I never really felt guilty from reading these lists about my own privilege, though I felt bad, both because I felt stupid for having missed it before (not discovering it on my own), and because it fills me with the kind of anger that I feel about this issue too, where I am on the un-privileged side. So it's a good kind of feeling bad too, once I got over the fact that I couldn't do it on my own.

    I also think pointers (or links to) things people can do, in practice, not just be aware of it. That is what I desired to know when I had accepted my own privilege. What can I do not to be in the way, or push myself into other people's space, pushing them away, being obnoxious without knowing it, putting others down, etc. I still feel like I don't really have an idea what to do.

    I don't really know about 'neurotypical'. I don't really like it, but I don't know a better term, but even if I did, no one else would know it and NT has the advantage of being widely known. Then again, it has the detrimental effect that many people mistake its meaning, and think that it refers to anyone non-autistic, while in fact, it's not just autistics that are non-NT.

  11. The 'little', 'everyday' stuff that I kind of mean, in relation to the NT privilige list you made, is the stuff like: nr. 6, nr. 17, nr. 21, nr. 40 on the edited list, and stuff like people praising you in tittering voices usually reserved for infants or pets when you accomplish something (anything, whether it was easy or hard for you, important to you or not).

    I mean that 'little' or 'everyday' is not what I want to say to describe it but right now my word collection is rapidly decreasing. So I hope examples help.

  12. SadderbutwisergirlAugust 1, 2009 at 3:54 PM

    Bev, I think you did a good thing in shortening it to the essentials, but I think it's also important to mention how autistics are discriminated against from an early age, from receiving abuse from teachers to being segregated educationally. Pretty much everything in the shortened version applies either to the general autistic community or only to autistic adults. While we don't want to unnecessarily bore our readers, some attention should be paid to the crime against humanity that is being done to autistic children.

  13. "Which points from the unedited list (not included in this one) are most important to you, and why?"

    Well, first, I think we need to include in the list the privileges neuroconvergent people benefit from in the educational system. Indeed, school is the place where we spend most of our time during childhood and teenage-hood. Of course, I understand that there are too many points about that in the former list, but those can be synthesized :

    -I can expect to be accepted and treated fairly at school and to receive an education that suits my neurology to a certain extent.
    (I add "to a certain extent" because I think school systems in most countries are awful, no matter what your neurology is, it's just a matter a degree...)

    I have also mentioned in my last comment :

    -Nobody has the right to deny my right to education because I refuse to take a neuro-enhancing drug.

    I think this issue is a very serious one because coercing someone to take a mind-modifying drug is nothing but denying one's right to his/her own body and brain.

    I would not remove anything the current list, but rather blend together several points (such as 9, 10 and 11). Points 35 and 42 can be summed up by "I am not considered more dangerous and more likely to commit a crime because of my neurology.".

  14. Does the document need a different title? Someone has suggested that "neurotypical" be replaced with "neuroconvergent." Personally, I am not fond of the term "neurotypical," as I think it lacks accuracy. However, it is a term many people have become familiar with, and I hesitate to introduce a less familiar term. I don't see "non-autistic" as a good choice in this case, either. Suggestions, anyone?

    Well, I think I am the "someone" who has suggested "neuroconvergent", and my opinion hasn't changed ;). Firstly, it feels inaccurate to many people to use "neurotypical". And, secondly, if you use the word "neuroconvergent", the discussion will not derailed into a "Does-such-a-thing-as-a-typical-human-brain-exists" debate. I also strongly dislike the way some people stereotype the supposedly "NTs", as their brains are supposed to all work in the same way. I think "neuroconvergent" would avoid that kind of stereotyping, because, as I have mentioned earlier, this connotes a social reality, not a single and specific neurotype. (I feel compelled to emphasize that I am absolutely not accusing any particular person of stereotyping those who don't have neurological disabilities. Neither am I implying that those who use the word "neurotypical" necessarily do.)

    Non-autistic doesn't seem to be a good choice to me neither, as a lot of non-autistic people do not benefit from many of those privileges(What about AD/HDers, dyslexics, dyspraxics, bipolars, dyscalculics, intellectually delayed people, speech impaired people, etc... ? ) . Which is an other thing that confuses me about that list. It was intended to be a list about the "privilege that comes with having no known neurological disorder or disability.", but the final list, as well as its introduction, are especially centered around autistic people.
    I do not think it is wrong to make a list that specifically addresses the privileges that non-autistic people have over autistic people. I understand that maybe autistic people suffer from a kind of oppression that's different from the one those who have other kinds of neurological disabilities suffer from. But, in this case, this list needs to be clearer about the privileged people it's about.

    By the way, I know many people have have already told you that, but thank you for having thought about making this checklist, Bev :).

  15. Norah,
    Your comments make sense to me. I think the "little things" you are talking about are the reason McIntosh chose the Invisible Knapsack in her title. And yes, they apply here, too. I hope that in its final version, this list will have a good mix of large and small types of privilege included.

    There is a lot of good writing out there on dealing with privilege once you know you have it. I may link some of these as well. I have also been considering writing a post to go along with this for people who will have some of the questions you mention here.

    Thanks for bringing up the importance of segregation and teaching methods in school. I thought that I had included something specific to that here, but I don't see it. I will add it back in.

    Another vote for more emphasis on the educational system. Check. Your thoughts on combining other items to make room for this are appreciated as well.

    As far as the title and use of "neurotypical," I am still conflicted here, and hope to hear more debate on the subject. Your comment addresses several interrelated problems with the terminology. While I appreciate the term "neuroconvergent" (note that I did include it as an alternate phrasing in the intro), I am not sure that introducing a new term here, in a piece that is already going to be seen as quite challenging, would be the best way to go.

  16. I really like the items that use the word "neurology" instead of neurotypical. So rephrasing as much as possible that way might work better. (If others agree.)

    Now I'm feeling guilty for critiquing but not helping much, so I want to analyse the earlier list and see what kind of patterns are there.

  17. Just a quick comment here (I'm tired tonight), but how about using a phrase like "Neuroconvergent/Neurotypical"?

    Maybe this would be too clunky to use for the whole document, but maybe it could be part of the title, and then shortened to "NC/NT" in the document (with appropriate mention in the glossary so that people understand the abbreviation).

    Just an idea.


  18. I agree on the use of "neurology" over "neurotypical". Neurotypical seems like it tends to induce a lot of arguments over the semantics of the word, while drawing attention away from the content of what is being said.

    That said, I think the condensed list-of-50 items is pretty good, though I agree with those who mentioned that maybe a bit more about employment would be useful.

  19. Oh and just to give an example of using "neurology" the way I meant it in my comment, compare these two statements:

    5. I can reveal to my boss and coworkers that I am neurotypical (NT), without fear of losing my job.

    5. I can reveal my neurology to my boss and coworkers, without fear of losing my job.

  20. 3. For a child of my neurotype, everyday teaching of the skills they will need to live in this society is called education or parenting—not therapy or treatment.

    Oh, the other thing that it gets called, when someone needs help from others in ways people aren't expected to, and always makes me wince, is "intervention." It's a word that also perpetuates the idea that the choice is between Help As We Currently Define Help, and Leaving Them To Rot. (Like non-autistic children aren't getting "intervention," under that definition, when they're taught to read, write, etc, in a society that expects everyone to do those things, when most of them probably wouldn't learn them on their own. But because people are expected to need to be taught how to do these things, then of course it's just "education." Ironically, I did learn to read on my own, though it took me longer to be able to connect written language to meaning.)

  21. I agree with the sentiment behind the idea of using "neuroconvergent" rather than "neurotypical" - using "neurotypical" leads to questions of what sort of brain is typical, and whether such a thing actually exists. But I think that "neurotypical" works better for the purposes of the essay. People are more familiar with the term, and used to seeing it in the context of autism. Using the term "neuroconvergent" would necessitate an explanation of the term, which might distract from the list itself.

    What would be best, I think, is a term that specifically means non-autistic, because the list would probably be different for people with other atypical neurologies. But "non-autistic" sounds awkward.

  22. How about something along these lines for a title:

    Considered normal: Privileges of an unlabeled neurology

  23. Bev, I like your suggestion for a title.

    I was going over the longer list, grouping it by category, then reread the shorter list and realized it was pretty close to perfect. Good work.

    If you wanted to keep it at 50 items and add one more employment item, I nominate #33 (famous auties) for replacement.

    I don't see one I like on the long list, so how about "I can ask for technical or social support on the job without being seen as some sort of special needs case." Although #23 is sort of like that, too, but doesn't mention work.

  24. I don't understand the word "neuroconvergent" at all. Can someone explain it? I look at it and it says nothing to me (and I know what "converge" means). Personally, I vote for "neurotypical" which, while not ideal, seems the simplest to explain and to grasp for someone encountering it for the first time.

  25. Have been following this project. Fantastic.

    Agreed on "neurotypical". It implies a sameness that doesn't exist, it has acquired connotations of mundanity. In addition, its converse, "neuro-atypical", is awkward.

    Neuroconvergence (the noun) has the disadvantage of being an already existing (though obscure) word. (I googled it - don't know what it means!) Neuroconvergentism? Sounds like an ideology...

    Allism has also been suggested, as a term for non-autistic. (Autos = self, allos = other.) But that's another concept, and may only serve to perpetuate all that nonsense about empathy.

  26. I don't know about unlabeled neurology. It sounds like it means undiagnosed people, but they're still going to encounter a lot that's on the list, labeled or not.

  27. "What would be best, I think, is a term that specifically means non-autistic, because the list would probably be different for people with other atypical neurologies."

    I think it's up to Bev to decide whether this list is centered around autistic people or all neurologically disabled people.
    (I'm myself still confused about that.)

    "I don't know about unlabeled neurology. It sounds like it means undiagnosed people, but they're still going to encounter a lot that's on the list, labeled or not."

    We could say "people who are diagnosed or who could hypothetically receive a diagnosis" ?
    (A bit too long, maybe...)

  28. Oktarin, since you're the person who recommended "neuroconvergent", I wish you would define it. I tried googling "neuroconvergence", then "neural convergence", and when no straightforward hits came up, I decided this was not a good use of my time. I see that your blogger profile says your interest is "neuropsychology", so I assume this is a term familiar to someone who knows that field. My interests are in literature and popular culture, so I'm still wholly in the dark. Since I think this document is supposed to be accessible to laypeople, I would appreciate a response to my request for a definition of the term. Otherwise, I'm going to assume that this document is meant for a more specialized audience, and I'm no longer going to follow its progress.

  29. Rina :
    First, I am not specialist in neuropsychology, this may be my main area of interest, I wouldn't claim it to be my field.
    Victoria Biggs coined the term "neuro-divergent" in her article Typical Prejudices (Here is the address : -I couldn't figure out how to embed it-) to refer to a neurotype that's in inadequacy with expected norms, as she didn't feel at ease with neurodiverse.
    I figured out that, in this case, the opposite of a "neurodivergent" would be a "neuroconvergent" : someone whose neurotype is adapted to expected norms and started using that word. So this is not at all a word related to neuropsychology. I thought its meaning would be clear in this context, but I was wrong, I should have explained it more clearly, sorry to have confused you and possibly other people. I hope it is easily understandable now.

    (By the way, I don't think the word "neurotypical" is much more accessible to the layperson. I had never heard it before discovering the concept of neurodiversity and have always found that term extremely confusing, as I never know if people are using it refer to an hypothetical normal neurotype or to the people whose neurologies can meet normal expectations... And it often induces misunderstanding among people on the Internet, according to my experience)

  30. Perhaps we should go with 'neuroconformity', for people whose neurology can easily conform to their society's standards, to make it all a bit more complicated still :D.

    (That's a joke).

  31. "When writing about others who are different from me, there are words available to facilitate this categorization."

    I wonder if we might be encountering a function of privilege here. Some things are assumed so "normal" they don't get talked about as often as the "other." For example, if you are straight, do you say to a friend, "I have a new coworker, he is a straight guy who used to work at XYZ company." Probably not. Heterosexuality is presumed unless otherwise stated or implied. In many situations, it doesn't need to be mentioned. Autistics are quite a bit more in the minority than gays, so the situation is magnified. So much that there is no universally accepted word for "the others."

    To some extent, I have issues with the word "neurotypical" due to my own need for logic and order. It is a sloppy construction; there is no such thing as a typical brain; it adds to the confusion of who is and who is not meant by the term. But this doesn't account for the difficulty of coming up with a word that makes sense to all of us, and does not seem like it will cause more conflict or resistance for readers.

    Just a thought...

    I appreciate those who are helping with this brainstorming. I am thinking now about how to work the idea of (presumed) default neurology into the title.

  32. Victoria Biggs wasn't the first person to coin that term, although I'm sure she came up with it independently. A lot of people (I don't know who used it first) have been using it for a long time (like many years before that blog post, and without any of us knowing the two people described).

  33. Anne C. said:
    "Oh and just to give an example of using "neurology" the way I meant it in my comment, compare these two statements:
    5. I can reveal to my boss and coworkers that I am neurotypical (NT), without fear of losing my job.
    5. I can reveal my neurology to my boss and coworkers, without fear of losing my job."

    Thanks for this. Some of you may have noticed that several items on the list were changed to reflect this preference(although #5 wasn't one of them.)Credit is due to Evonne, who is a regular commenter here, a very good friend, and someone I consult with on Big_projects of this nature. She has mad skilz in the writing and editing fields. Thanks, Evonne!

  34. Norah said:

    "I don't know about unlabeled neurology. It sounds like it means undiagnosed people, but they're still going to encounter a lot that's on the list, labeled or not."

    That's an interpretation I hadn't considered. Thank you.

    Okatrin said:

    "I think it's up to Bev to decide whether this list is centered around autistic people or all neurologically disabled people.
    (I'm myself still confused about that.)"

    I guess I have become more confused about that throughout the process myself. "Neurotypical," which many of us seem to agree is not an ideal term, gets used both ways. In my view, it is very important to make clear that neurodiversity does not apply only to autistics. On the other hand, this being a blog about autism, almost all of the contributions here are from autistic people. It is true that many of the problems with NT privilege impact those with other differences, whether those differences are considered neurological or "mental illness" categories. But is it our place as autistic people to define those problems?

    I think these are questions that I will need to address or at least mention in the introduction, or in a statement following the list.

  35. 1. I find "neuroconvergent" even more nebulous than "neurotypical". While "typical" may bristle folks who don't like being thought of as, oh, I dunno, average (boring?), it is easier to grasp than "convergent". People know what typical means, but I admit I'm not entirely sure what's "convergent" means in this sense. What's converging -- public opinion on the acceptability of your neurology? Synapses/the way your neurological system operates to make you work? (If it's synapses, then I'd venture to say neuroconvergent is almost offensive, because it suggests that neuroconvergent people are the only ones whose neurological system comes together to make you work the right way.) In any case, yeah, I think that wherever possible saying stuff like "because of the way my brain works" or something along those lines is less confusing for readers who are expected to put themselves in autistics'/people of less common neurologies' shoes. The nature of the list already compells readers to think in terms of "opposites", so when polarized terms come into play it starts becoming muddled, like double negatives.

    1b ('cause I just remembered it and it ties to 1). I'm quite certain that Bev and most others here are inlcuding more than just autistics in the minority group here. But it becomes very, very difficult to list all the different non-typical neurologies or sum them up with a couple of words. I wouldn't terribly mind "people with developmental, neurological, or mental disabilities" or somesuch, but I know that will spark a bit of contention among folks who don't want to see autism as a disability . . . and then using "differences" in place of disabilities gets mucky and yada yada yada. It'd be great if there were just one word for us. I vote for "weirdos". :P Feminine: "weirdas". I kid, of course, but maybe not really.

    2. Agreed re: more work and school. More items probably could be combined to make room for one more work item and one more school item. And I very much appreciate Norah's realizations re: the "little things" -- and for autistics this can especially mean items like being able to simply take a stroll down the sidewalk without folks presuming you must be lost/without your supposed guardian/escaped from the loony bin or engaging in something criminal.

    3. Re: "privilege": I already suggested removing a word that might have added to the sting of the concept of privilege -- thanks, Bev, for going with it -- but I certainly think privilege should remain. I understand where discomfort could come into play, much like it could come into play with white privilege, etc., especially when these days it seems white folks are already walking on eggshells in interactions with people of minority races. But I maintain that simply opening oneself up to the idea that privilege does indeed exist can save one from much of the awkwardness/potential for insult/feeling like one has to walk on eggshells. As in, rather than thinking "Oooh, better be really careful what I say around Those People; they're all so touchy", simply acknowledging that people of minority groups have to operate each day by a different set of standards (and that altering one's behavior constantly to fit the majority is exhausting as hell) might make interactions more natural in the first place. A black friend of mine was talking about how in professional situations she seems to have to work twice as hard to come off as exceptionally friendly, to smile, to give compliments (and she's not one for whom smiling all the dang time comes naturally; in fact her neutral facial expressions are often taken as "mean"). She said after extended periods of trying extra hard to appear friendly, and enduring frequent awkward exchanges ("I didn't know you used the same kind of shampoo I use!"), no wonder people finally just snap and express outright offense. One can only take pretending to be somebody else for so long.

  36. Thanks, Evonne! For anyone interested in reading more about some of the "little things" that can cause big problems, this is a pretty good book:

  37. I don't like neuroconvergent because, among many other reasons, I have heard it (and words like it) used in definitions that include autistic people. For instance, Larry Arnold uses "divergent thinkers" vs. "convergent thinkers", and includes some autistic people as "convergent thinkers," IIRC. (And has been using those definitions since before he ever heard of autism.) And I still don't really understand what neuroconvergent is supposed to mean (or even "convergent"), it's one of those words that utterly refuses to stick in my head as meaningful.

    I think I like allistic even worse because it implies that autistic people are self-focused and non-autistic people are other-focused, which is flat-out not true.

    Whether people like the implications of neurotypical or not, it's the most easily-understood word for people without anything recognized as a neurological condition, and I think it's the least of several evils.

  38. Oh and, re: privilege, it seems to me to be an enormous privilege to be able to turn discussions of privilege around so that they are all about how difficult it is for privileged people to handle the idea that they have privilege.

    Even if that is not the intent of the people doing it, that's what it ends up boiling down to -- people with privilege in a certain area getting their feelings hurt and feeling like they have to be a little cautious around some groups of people, vs. people without privilege in that area experiencing deadly levels of prejudice. Simply being able to get through the world on a survival-based day-to-day level without thinking about privilege (even if not calling it that specific word) is a major aspect of being privileged.

    So I don't really think there's a way to make people with privilege totally comfortable in discussions of privilege, if they're going to initially react defensively to it. And I'm not sure it should be the focus either.

    I've been in so many discussions where I try to tell someone that the way they are behaving hurts people -- not just people's feelings, but hurts people's chances at life itself -- and they collapse into a puddle of hurt feelings and then it becomes all about them. Even if I try carefully to explain that this is not a personal attack on them, but rather a statement on how their actions and opinions actually affect the real world. And even if I never mention privilege at all. And in those discussions, it always seems like I'm the one who has to bend over backwards not to hurt their feelings while getting the message across, whereas their message is just considered (by a large number of people with certain kinds of power) totally acceptable no matter how many people like me (or people different from them in any specific way) it harms.

    And that, itself, is a function of privilege. People with privilege in any given area get to wallow in self-pity about being considered privileged, and about those 'awful' 'minority' people who 'attack' them all the time. And people without privilege in that area are the ones paying the real price for all the wallowing.

    (And I don't think there's a gentle or pleasant way of putting that. It's not a pleasant reality.)

  39. As a non-autistic, I'm sympathetic to what you're trying to achieve with this list, but honestly the term "neuro-typical" bothers me enough to alienate me from your cause. It implies a sameness, (or even as another commenter said, an "averageness") that I find at least somewhat offensive, and certainly not reflective of the diversity that exists between minds both on and off the spectrum. I would be more receptive to your efforts if you could find another term.

    I guess also it would be nice also if there was some acknowledgment that not all "NTs" benefited from the privileges that you've listed-by a long stretch. I would argue that class privilege is almost as influential to whether one has access to appropriate education, medical services, etc. as "NT" privilege. I have a couple of autistic relatives who have been able to get most of the services and educational accommodations needed to give them a good start in life because their parents are wealthy enough to afford them and have had enough time to advocate for them. On the other hand, I know people from poor families who the education and health care systems in this country failed almost as much as they often fail autistics.
    Moreover a parent's wealth or lack there of undoubtedly has a strong impact on their ability to deal with the added demands of raising an autistic child, which is something I don't often see acknowledged in debates.

    One of the many reasons I'm receptive to the neuro-diversity movement is of course that I would like to see more resources diverted away from searches for a "cure" and towards diminishing these equalities. I simply think representing them in terms of a rigid dichotomy between NT privilege and autistic privation of obscures the economic injustices that underlie them.

    This is not to say of course that autistics don't have it rough, or that society as a whole does not need more education and sensitivity about the experience of autism.

  40. YES re: being able to turn privilege around. It in fact connects quite often to the argument over "neurotypical". I've seen people hijack entire threads to talk about how they're offended (and I suspect they're mostly just pretending to be offended) at the use of the word. It very effectively derails what should have been a very important conversation.

  41. Huh. Anonymous, I composed that last comment without having read yours. Interesting.

    I agree that class, etc. comes into play for non-autistic people. Of course it does. So does race, gender, the experiences of the person making the judgment, etc. It's all entertwined. But note that autistics also come from different classes, races, etc. Sometimes (most times) it's hard to pinpoint the basis of discrimination, or even whether discrimination is occurring. In most cases it's a very mucky area and very hard to make a judgment call, and to determine whether or not it's safe to "cry privilege". And that in part complicates the power heirarchy even more. People of minority groups run into situations on a daily basis where they have to sort of restrain themselves . . . situations in which they suspect they're experiencing discrimination but can't exactly prove it, so they sort of have to swallow it and deal with it. That takes a toll just as much as trying extra hard to smile does. There is in fact danger of coming off as "too sensitive" or "the angry minority" by outwardly expressing offense at every single situation in which discrimination is suspected. And that's, well . . . that's another example of the privileged group being able to turn privilege around.

    I maintain that autistics etc. are a distinct group who are, um, for lack of a better word, entitled, because of the shared experiences/characteristics of the group, to a list re: privilege. There are many other groups that face discrimination, and they often overlap, but they still can has list.

    Re "neurotypical" once more: Yes, it is problematic. And I suspect it's often even more acutely problematic for people who tend to be "cool" with the concept of neurodiversity/whateveryouwannacallit -- because the people who are "cool" with it, I suspect, tend to think of themselves as having a mindset that sort of transcends the norm -- and they/you do, indeed. Meaning, if you're cool with the concept of neurodiversity, your brain probably *isn't* quite as typical as the brains of most. Maybe you're the type to think "normal" is boring. But really, truly, it does boil down to semantics.

  42. Anonymous,

    Far from denying that class privilege exists, I mentioned it in the introduction to the list. I also wrote:

    "Privilege is not, in itself, a terrible thing. Having any form of privilege does not make you a bad person. Just about everyone has some form of privilege. (No, that doesn’t mean it all somehow “balances out.”)"

    It is impossible to say that one privilege trumps another or imply that no member of a disadvantaged group benefits from membership in another advantaged group. I suspect we are in agreement about class privilege; it is a huge issue, and its implications for people on the spectrum is important.

    This list, however, is focused on bad things that do not automatically happen to people because of being NT or non-autistic or whatever. For example:

    7. I am never told that I should not have children, lest I pass on the genes that cause them to be like me.

    Of course not everyone who is not autistic has this benefit. Other people with disabilities or conditions are told this all the time. The point is, they are not told this because of being NT. And autistic people are told this because of being autistic.

    The intersection of disadvantaged groups is a huge topic, and can only be acknowledged, not thoroughly addressed in this article. I hope to be writing more about it in the future.

  43. Bev, I should have read your intro more carefully. I'm glad you acknowledged class privilege.

    Evonne, this statement; "Meaning, if you're cool with the concept of neurodiversity, your brain probably *isn't* quite as typical as the brains of most. Maybe you're the type to think "normal" is boring. But really, truly, it does boil down to semantics." actually cuts to the core about what irritates me about how the term "neuro-typical" is used within discussion such as these. There often seems to be the assumption that NTs are boring and conventional--unable to think outside the box, and that extraordinary personality traits are markers of neuro-atypicality. For the record, I've never met anyone who I found boring once I got to know them, either on or off the spectrum.

    I think the list you have here is a very good description of the privations that autistic people endure, as much as I'm able to judge as a non-autistic. Given my discomfort with the concept of neuro-typicality, I'm still not sure how much it describes privileges enjoyed by all, or even a majority of non-autistics. I've certainly benefited from a number of the privileges on this list, but I also haven't benefited from a decent number of them, and I would guess this would be true for most non-autistic people.

    My point in posting though wasn't to highjack what seems to be a productive discussion, with a debate about whether there is such a thing as neuro-typicality. Rather, I wished to suggest that if someone like me is a turned off by the term neuro-typical, then then the language used in the list might undermine its effectiveness in garnering understanding from "NTs". Whether this is a problem I guess depends on who your intended audience is. If it is mainly a document for the autistic community, then I would guess that NT works fine, but if it is intended to reach autistics and non-autistics alike, then the term might be problematic. Of course, I don't claim to speak for all non-autistics, and I admit the possibility that I could just be too sensitive.

  44. I share many of these reservations about the word "neurotypical." One thing which has helped me in understanding the word's usage has been to compare it to another word used by a group I belong to, that being the word "gentile" (non-Jewish) and its Yiddish equivalent, "goy." Both words denote not being a part of a particular group, but don't necessarily indicate that all non-members are the same. Neither word is inherently derogatory (IMO), but can on occasion be used in a derogatory manner. (But any word can be used in a derogatory manner, so a few derogatory uses of the word indicate nothing about the word's validity.)

    With that in mind, I think this "Gentile Privilege List" could provide a useful model for formatting an NT privilege list:

    It's set up to include privileges which are specific to those who are white and/or Christian in the U.S., and also to include privileges which are more generally bestowed upon all non-Jews. Similarly, I think some of the privileges on this list are extended to (virtually) all non-autistic people, while others are only experienced by more-or-less NT people, or nondisabled people more generally.

    I hope this makes sense. I think the final version of this list should acknowledge the inadequacies of the NT terminology, but without overwhelming the list itself. I agree with Amanda and evonne about the potentially derailing effects of indulging the being-called-NT-as-an-insult tact.

  45. I guess that raises the question (and believe me, it's been on our minds throughout) of whether we want to soften up the language so as to help readers be more receptive to it, or whether we want to say what needs to be said. The fact that people might take offense—or pretend to take offense— to “neurotypical” has been acknowledged from the beginning. This list, its introduction, and nearly every piece of communication surrounding them have been fashioned with that potential in mind. We certainly don’t want to turn readers off to the point that they will dismiss the message. The authors (and indeed, just about any autistic blogger who writes with the intention of positively educating the public) have spent lots of time deleting/omitting/restructuring language for that very reason. It naturally doesn’t do us any good to try to reach an audience by offending them.

    The more I think about it, though, it seems to me that that fear is sort of holding the message hostage. If the majority says “We’ll listen to what you people have to say . . . but only if you’re very very very nice to us and don’t hurt our feelings,” that really makes me wonder how much they really planned on listening in the first place.

  46. Anonymous,

    Thanks for the clarifications. I do believe that you are trying to be helpful in pointing out something that will contribute to resistance. For the record, I don't see NT as synonymous with boring at all. Sometimes I wish the word "normal" hadn't acquired so many negative connotations. As Evonne recently pointed out to me, it is supposed to refer to distance from "the norm" which is a value free concept. But the baggage that goes with "normal" can't be removed.

    As much as I don't want to engage in a false dichotomy or "us versus them" mentality, the important thing to me right now is this:

    We can go on and on about every problem with every word, and possibly, in time, the perfect solution will rise to the surface. Or it might not. In which case, this project never gets finished for fear of choosing wrong in deciding which group of people we most want not to offend. That can't happen, you see. It's exactly the sort of thing that happens all the time, little by little. That's why I'm leaning toward keeping "neurotypical" and adding more explanation/disclaimer to the article. As Amanda said, it seems to be the best of a bunch of less than ideal choices.

    Still, I am open to hearing other suggestions on this. Including yours, if you have one.

  47. Sarah,
    Thank you! I had never seen that list before, or considered the possibility of that sort of format. It is worth considering, for sure.

    Thanks also for the insight into "gentile" and "goy." I have to admit, I had only ever thought of the word "goy" as at least slightly derogatory. Hearing that it isn't only used that way allowed me to think about "neurotypical" in a different way. For me, it is a neutral term. Some non-autistics have only seen it used as an insult, and it isn't their fault for misunderstanding.

    Rather than saying "but I've always heard...," I took your explanation of "goy" seriously, investigated it a bit more, then shifted my understanding to conform with the new knowledge. It isn't my word to define, after all. It applies to me, but is not for me.

  48. Very good list!

    I think that something like

    "If my sexual orientation, gender identity, lifestyle preferences or beliefs are deemed nonstandard, others will not suggest that I am pretending, incorrect, jumping the gun or unable to really know such things about myself because I am neurotypical. They will not use my neurotypical status as a basis for defending intolerant remarks or beliefs about any of these identities."
    "My opinions on social mores and societal issues will never be dismissed based on my neurology or on the assumption that I am simply "not understanding how these things work". Even when others of differing neurology agree with me"

    should be included.

    I'm not sure exactly what, if anything I'd take out though.

  49. Evonne: "The more I think about it, though, it seems to me that that fear is sort of holding the message hostage. If the majority says “We’ll listen to what you people have to say . . . but only if you’re very very very nice to us and don’t hurt our feelings,” that really makes me wonder how much they really planned on listening in the first place."

    After reading through all the comments again and thinking about it for a long time, I'm now actually thinking 'neurotypical' is the best way to go. If needed, you could put in a reminder that we don't just mean autistics when we say non-NT, that NT doesn't refer to everyone who isn't autistic, but to a smaller group.

    I think it does stem from fear, at least in part, and like Amanda said, privilige at work, that we don't want to use it for the chance that it might hurt feelings.

    Other than that, if people get offended at the term if it's used to signify them, why? They ought to know we don't think they're all exactly the same in neurology, or that we think they're all boring or whatever. After all, do we think that they think *we're* all the same (ok, yeah, some do, just look at the (extended) list)? But we have a lable, or a group of ones that fall under another common lable again. They can get over us needing something to describe them by here that doesn't become 3 sentences long or totally unknown. If they can accept their privilige, NT should be a small thing to get over. I can understand (heck, if not us, then who?) that it might not be nice to have your self suddenly referred to by some lable, especially one that sounds like it might mean you're boring or all the same somehow, but really...

    And something I learned from the other lists: the majority doesn't get to decide what terms we use. So that just leaves internal debate.

  50. I think current numbers 16 and 41 adequately cover my former #67. Regarding the title, I'm used to neurotypical as non-autistic. I can see "non-diagnosed" but am confident that we've all had problems on this list before receiving our various diagnoses. "Non-diagnosable" might be better but I'm also confident that some psychologists could fit anyone into the DSM. Apologies for lack of clear resolution.

    Thanks again for your spearheading this, Bev.

  51. I now think that a "default neurology" would be the best choice, as "neuroconvergent" confuses so many people.

    If the word "neurotypical" is ultimately chosen, it should be made clear that it doesn't refer to a single neurotype, but to a neurology that meets the expected standards. Otherwise, I bet a lot of people will come up and say things like "But I think in pictures/can concentrate for ten hours long/am highly gifted in mathematics/whatever cognitive quirk you want" without understanding that no matter how weird their neurological functioning can be, it isn't necessarily disabling in our present society. (Yes, I have already seen some folks reacting that way to the word "neurotypical". And this is not surprising as this word clearly implies there's a norm when it comes to the human brain.)

    "They ought to know we don't think they're all exactly the same in neurology"
    This is isn't necessarily self-evident. If I google "neurotypical", the first definition I come up with is :

    "Neurotypical (or NT) is a term that was coined in the autistic community as a label for people who are not on the autism spectrum:[1] specifically, neurotypical people have neurological development and states that are consistent with what most people would perceive as normal, particularly in regards to their ability to process linguistic information and social cues.[2] The concept was later adopted by both the neurodiversity movement and the scientific community." (Wikipedia)

    If someone has an amazing memory or knows how to read by age three , s/he doesn't have a neurological development that's consistent with the norm, possibly in an obvious way. S/he is not NT according to the definition [1]. And yet, this doesn't make this person disabled in any way.

    Word verification : "lists" ;)

  52. I've sit and quietly read 45 emails, one each time a new post is made. This has been an interesting conversation.

    Bev, please use neurotypical. It's easy to understand. It's not offensive. I think everyone is reading too much into it, and just arguing semantics. It's the most descriptive and understandable word or phrase available.

    Arguing about something that little can keep this wonderful list from being finalized. Let it go and be happy :)

  53. I have to admit being a little confused by people bringing up class privilege. It seems obvious to me that many areas of oppression overlap in their effects on people, and that it's beyond the scope of a list that deals with one area of oppression, to deal with every other area as well.

    It also seems to me that, for instance, if someone is autistic and a person of color, then they are going to deal with oppression that white autistic people do not deal with.

    I especially thought of this when someone autistic said, somewhere, "I'd always wondered where my white male privilege went. Now I know." And I wanted to say, but didn't have the words at the time, "Well you probably do still have privilege that, say, a black female autistic person does not have. Being autistic doesn't mean you forfeit other areas of privilege, it just means you don't have certain kinds of disability-based privilege."

    And I think I've read before about how many people who lack one kind of privilege, tend to hang onto that really tightly in discussions of the kinds of privilege they do have. So people will insist, for instance, that racism is all a class issue, or that class is "more important" in some hierarchy than race, because they don't want to think about the fact that they do in fact have white privilege. It's probably not consciously done to derail, but it ends up having that effect if it's held to stubbornly enough.

    (I don't fully understand this. It seems obvious to me that I have white privilege, some forms of class privilege, and some forms of able-bodied privilege, while lacking 'neurotypical' privilege, other forms of class privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege, and other forms of able-bodied privilege. It's not an either-or thing where when you lack one kind you automatically are the same as people who lack another kind. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding something.)

  54. "7. I am never told that I should not have children, lest I pass on the genes that cause them to be like me."

    Poor people are told that.

    I'm female, poor and autistic. I sometimes wonder if being black would've been an advantage or disadvantage for me. If I was I could add racism to my list but I could also get free money for college.

    I'm pretty convinced that class privilege is a major aspect of "Neurodiversity." Not everyone, such as myself, can afford support, treatment, healthcare, etc. Not everyone can have their parents advocate for them because they have to work.

    When parents cannot afford to keep their autistic child at home, a child that injures herself, is violent and etc. than they send them to a state institution because they cannot afford support.

    Class privilege has much more to do with this than most realize, I think. Being poor I can speak from experience because I do NOT have the same privileges that I see with most (almost all) who support ND.

  55. Ah, but when you're autistic, your parents can completely disown you, provide you with absolutely no support, even if they're very rich, and everyone sympathizes with them. Actually, if they don't like you, and if they're rich enough, they can have you locked up in an institution even if you aren't autistic (or anything else) - or so the stereotype goes. Dunno if it's still true or not.

    Put a tick in the poor and pro ND column for me, please.

  56. I have Aspbergers. I have five children that are all on the spectrum with different labels. I just found your blog. I am a little overwhelmed by it, but I love the way it is written so I will figure it out. Thanks for your work.

  57. Some of these statements are too broad. In general, claiming that "everybody" or "nobody" is risky.

    6 is almost too specific, which is weird because that's the opposite of how I feel about a lot of things. ;p

    11 and 12 can be merged. "Taxpayers or families" works just as well.

    15 How about adding "or with my parents?"

    31 really doesn't come off as that compelling. Yeah, it sucks that people say things like that, but it's kind of part of a bigger issue, or maybe I just don't like the wording. "Healthy" is just such a vague term and there are other things it could mean besides NT. Maybe something like "People don't say that being NT is worse than having cancer." Or maybe just a life-threatening diseases in general. Some parents think that forgoing MMR vaccines and letting kids get preventable diseases is seen as preferable to letting their kids have autism. (There's no link, of course, but that's still what people like that think.)

    34 Well, if you're not autistic, I don't think it's automatically true that people think they should be like you.

    35 is....What??? I just don't get it. If you "lack a conscience," you're probably not seen as "neurotypical." I'm not saying you'd be autistic, but that's not seen as normal, so if you are trying to be more broad than just speaking about autism, that just doesn't make any sense.

    40 That's not necessarily true. It's possible for people to think you're obsessed with something without assuming that you're autistic, and that's what the real problem is. Having your interests reduced to "perseverations" that you have because you're autistic is the issue.

    I hate to say it, but I'm beginning to wonder if this format is really worth sticking with. Maybe break it into subsections like that Gentile privileged list linked to before. I keep wanting to say something like "If a parent of a child like me says that living with me is nightmarish, they're not defended for 'just being honest'" but I'm not sure that's worth knocking some of these other points off the list for. Still, it's a pressing issue...

  58. "Ah, but when you're autistic, your parents can completely disown you, provide you with absolutely no support, even if they're very rich, and everyone sympathizes with them. Actually, if they don't like you, and if they're rich enough, they can have you locked up in an institution even if you aren't autistic (or anything else) - or so the stereotype goes. Dunno if it's still true or not.

    Put a tick in the poor and pro ND column for me, please."

    Says the woman with three college degrees who for some mysterious reason can't hold a job.

  59. They're called university degrees up here in Canada. And if we had more of the right research, maybe it wouldn't be so mysterious.

  60. I like the idea of organizing the list into subheads/categories like the gentile list. 50 items gets a little long, but if they were divided up into a few separate clusters then it might not feel quite as long.

    I suggest it also can be worth continuing to polish/ refine/ amplify the introductory text emphasizing that discussing privilege is not about apportioning blame or making people feel guilt.

    I agree it isn't worth writing reams of text defending the concept of privilege. People who only want to listen if people in marginalized populations are "very very very nice to them" probably aren't that serious about wanting to listen in the first place. But the whole concept of "privilege" is still very new for many people and seems to trigger a lot of misunderstanding, so it's still worth a paragraph or two to address it.

  61. I suggest also a link or two to other essays on what privilege is and isn't. Seems to me I've seen some essay somewhere, either linked from Amanda's blog site or linked from something else she linked to (or possibly from Ettina's blog site) ... explaining how you can have one kind of privilege without necessarily having another kind of privilege, etc. that might be worth linking to. Unfortunately I can't remember where I saw this. (Sorry. Not very helpful I know.) This kind of link might be helpful for people who are convinced that privilege is some kind of "all or nothing" baggage where being in one marginalized population automatically takes away all the privilege they would otherwise have.

    Like Amanda, I don't find it that difficult a concept to grasp that, even though I lack certain types of privilege that hearing people have, or that heterosexual people have, I DO still have certain OTHER types related to skin color, class, etc. But it is clear that some people do struggle with this concept.

    Sometimes, I suspect that this may actually be fear talking. One experience that I think many people across all marginalized populations experience is that the rest of the world not only fails to *notice* the discrimination we face but fails to even *recognize* certain aspects of our experience *AS* discrimination even when it is pointed out to them. That can get enormously frustrating, not to mention dis-invalidating (I've certainly been there). I suspect some people respond to that frustration by instinctively trying to emphasize just how bad their marginalization really is in an attempt to break through this kind of obliviousness. (Unfortunately, I suspect this is a strategy that probably usually fails.) The very suggestion that maybe they still experience certain types of privilege, even while simultaneously being denied many other types of privilege, I think may increase their fear that their own experience is now being further marginalized and invisibilized.

    If they're very strongly entrenched in this fear then just one or two essays on how people can be both privileged (in certain specific contexts) and marginalized (in certain other specific contexts) at the same time, etc ... will not do much. But not all people are going to be emotionally in the same place at the same time: where some people aren't going to be ready to hear the message, others will, and for them, a few links to appropriate essays on the topic of having both privilege and non-privilege simultaneously might be helpful.

    3. For people who are struggling with the idea of intersecting privilege/marginalization at a purely conceptual level (and I suspect some people are), maybe it would help to have a line clarifying that probably no single neurotypical/nonautistic/neuroconvergent/whoever person is going to experience EVERY single privilege on the list (perhaps precisely because they may belong to certain marginalized populations that undercut a few specific items on the list), but that most probably do experience at least a few of them. Similarly, some autistic people who experience many types of privilege in other aspects (such as class privilege, white privilege, etc) may find that these privileges help blunt the potential force of certain specific types of discrimination that other Autistic people without those privileges may experience more harshly, even if other types of discrimination are not as alleviated for them.

    Just some thoughts from a non-autistic (but, as a person with ADD, not quite neurotypical) Deaf bisexual woman. Hope I haven't talked too much!

  62. SadderbutwisergirlAugust 6, 2009 at 10:01 AM

    I think categories would be a good idea. Maybe do the education ones first, those that apply to the general autistic community second, and those that only apply to adults third.

  63. I know this is off-topic to what most of you are discussing, but I still think that there's a hole in the list.
    There's not much or nothing about having your opinions discounted (because you are assumed to be not understanding things when your opinion differs from someone elses).

    This also makes it easier for other forms of privilege to continue, because it's basically the same as all the other forms of "not listening to people" that help keep the status quo where it is.

    Ballastexistenz just wrote a post on a similar topic.

    If I'm being an overly squeaky wheel let me know. But I think this is important.

  64. Cereus Sphinx,

    I agree with your assessment. Check out number 34 on the new list (just posted!), which is based on your earlier comment.


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