Neurotypical spectrum disorder: a factsheet

Key facts

159 in 160 children have a neurotypical spectrum disorder (NSD). NSD is a condition characterised by being normal and behaving in an ordinary way. Symptoms range from mild to severe.

NSDs begin in childhood. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to grow out of being normal, although some NSD individuals attempt it through the use of hair dye and supporting a minor league football team.

Evidence-based psychosocial interventions are ineffective. Unfortunately, most people with NSD believe there is nothing wrong with them, so they refuse to engage. Difficulties in communication and social behaviour, such as dominating the conversation down the pub even when everyone has very obviously got bored of you going on about house prices, or attempting handshakes when you have unpleasantly sweaty hands, are common.

Introduction

Neurotypical spectrum disorder (NSD) refers to a range of conditions characterised by some degree of normal social behaviour, communication and language, and a lack of interests that could bring beauty and value to the neurotypical’s world.

NSDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood. In most cases the conditions are apparent during the first 5 years of life. Children with NSD interact with other children, even though other children are horrible. They tolerate that thing where people talk far too loudly in an annoying voice. They think the “Wheels on the bus” is a musically sound composition, despite the lack of originality and the obvious issues inherent within the demographic stereotyping.

The level of intellectual functioning in individuals with NSDs is extremely variable. Some are as thick as thistles. Others are brilliant. None of this actually matters, what’s important is being kind, but we thought we’d mention it as everyone else seems to think how clever you are is somehow connected to your value as a person.

Epidemiology

It is estimated that worldwide 159 in 160 children has a NSD.

Based on epidemiological studies conducted over the past 50 years, the prevalence of NSD appears to be decreasing globally. This is fortunate, as there are already too many people in the world who use phrases like “it is what it is” without any concern that they’re wasting everyone else’s time.

Causes

There are many factors that make a child more likely to have an Neurotypical Spectrum Disorder, including environmental and genetic factors.

It was hoped that widespread vaccination could increase the numbers of autistics but there is no evidence for that (apart from your friend’s Aunt Carol on Facebook who read about it on an alternative health website when she was shopping for Tunisian chewbacca root extract to help with her mood swings which she puts down to her menopause but is actually due to the fact that she never achieved her dream of being a celebrity fashion consultant, for which she blames her husband but it is really because she has absolutely no talent, and now she doesn’t have anything else to do with her time except bang on about vaccines and the moon).

Assessment and management

Intervention during early childhood is important to promote the optimal development and well-being of people with an NSD. This doesn’t always work, as we still see many neurotypicals who are unable to develop beyond their late teens or early 20s, attempting to fit into a similar style of jeans, and still believing their band is going to “make it”, even though said band is about as edgy and relevant as last year’s Argos catalogue.

There is no known cure for NSD. Psychosocial interventions are not routinely offered to those with NSD, despite strong evidence that these could result in fewer incidences of man-buns, posting of platitudes on social media, and people in grey suits talking about “pushing the envelope”.

Interventions need to be accompanied by broader actions for making their environments more accessible, inclusive and supportive. This means nodding politely when a person with NSD whines about how it’s “ridiculous” that Marks and Spencers no longer sell the kind of biscuits they like, trying to understand that the fact they drive an Audi is of great importance to them, and tolerating being told you’ve got “no sense of humour” even though the reason you’re not laughing is because their jokes aren’t funny.

Social and economic impacts

NSDs may significantly impact the ability of an individual to be interesting. Repetitive and challenging behaviour may be displayed as them constantly asking you if you’ve seen that film even though it became apparent some time ago that you haven’t seen any of the same films as they have.

You may find them perplexed at the lack of admiration for their music collection, even though the purchase of records, CDs and downloads is not a challenging task even for the most severely neurotypical individual.

They also struggle with appropriate social behaviour, which frequently manifests as replying to everyone in the WhatsApp group, even though a direct message to the individual would be more appropriate and the rest of the group wouldn’t have to sift through hundreds of “thank you” and “you’re welcome” messages to find out what’s happening at 3pm next Friday.

Human rights

People with NSD often stigmatise and discriminate against those without the condition.

They frequently dismiss the sensitivities of those without NSD; for example, not bumping them with their stupidly large handbag in the queue at the Co-op, or respecting the need to be quieter than the remaining Chuckle brother’s phone.

In conclusion

There are currently no efforts by any government, NGOs, or international advocacy organisations to address the challenges that neurotypicals face, despite the burdens they place on those without NSDs. Individuals can play their part by treating persons with NSDs with sympathy, compassion, understanding and acceptance, and help us all move towards a fairer and more inclusive society.

If you’re neurotypical, follow me on Twitter. If you’re one of the lucky ones, still follow me on Twitter.

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