NeuroTyicals often focus on teaching autistics social skills (i.e. how to relate to people) and life skills (i.e. how to live independently). These visible skills that are usually presented with rule-based or script-based approaches, creating inflexible and fragile responses that are unable to cope with change and variation.
NeuroTypicals often miss out on the invisible skills that make it possible for themselves to master the visible skills with relative ease and depth. They often dismiss the invisible issues that block autistics from mastering (and not simply memorizing) the visible skills.
However, it is not what we know that gets us in trouble. It is not what we understand that throws up obstacles. It is not what we are aware of that creates misunderstandings. A new invisible syllabus that covers the missing pieces is required, but sorely lacking. I had to discover this syllabus by myself, with trial and error.
For autistics ready to go beyond the conventional social skills textbooks, I offer the secrets of the NeuroTypicals – the Invisible Lessons that the NeutoTypicals themselves have taken for granted. I share key insights into the fundamental questions that remain unanswered by NeuroTypical books, or answered in a way that cannot be applied by autistics into their daily lives.
- How do we take in and make sense of the sensory world?
- How do we deal calmly with things that do not go our way?
- How do we deal with things that we cannot control and predict?
- How do we relate to our own and others’ emotions?
- How do we assess the situation we are in?
- How do we choose between two or more equally good/bad choices?
- How do we understand the “future implications” of our choices?
- How do we fully accept that other people are different from ourselves?
- How do we work with the “special needs” of NeuroTypicals (e.g. small talk)?
- How do we present our social status when interacting with people?
- How do we relate meaningfully to people as people, not objects or roles?
- How do we “feel” personality, intent and potential in people?
- How do we “enjoy” life?
In order to achieve something that we have found impossible to achieve, we must do something radically different that we have never done before. We have to open ourselves to a new approach and understanding in order to make our breakthroughs. It is not knowledge about the human being that we seek, but wisdom about being human that we uncover. When we come to a deep understanding of the human experience and condition, then what seems irrational and stupid on the surface, can become wise and brilliant.
Modern society has caused many people to lose our appreciation and connection for the indefinable aspects of human life, in a civilization that seeks to standardize and quantify everything. The human soul, heart and body are under attack by the overly-powerful intellect, which believes itself to be the only true reality. “I think, therefore I am.”
It is tempting for us autistics to follow the mainstream thinking that the mind is the only thing that matters, and rely solely on it to navigate our world. It is tempting for us to ignore the irrational emotions and desires within us. It is tempting for us to hide within our perfect imagination than to confront a brutal and painful world. It is tempting for us to believe that our existence is meaningless and death is the best relief that we can obtain. It is tempting for us to rage against the world and the injustice that we face.
We do not have to choose that type of existence. We can choose to connect with the web of Life. We can choose to express the goodness, beauty, meaning and authenticity of the world in our unique individual way. We can choose to be fully present to being human, and to our human being.
Stop being a tourist who demands experiences in comfortable, predictable and standardized slices. Start becoming an explorer who opens new paths into the unknown, while taking in the special-ness of mundane life. Let us all embrace the world, build a bridge to the people around us and grow towards our future.
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
― Wendell Berry