There are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about neurodivergent people and our social abilities and needs. Particularly autistic people.
These misconceptions can include that neurodivergent people do not care to have relationships, that is not something that is important to them.
That they are not interested in other people.
There are mainstream discussions that accuse particularly autistic people of being socially deficit in some way, that they are not capable of being social, and that this is a problem we need to correct by forcing autistic people to behave differently.
Also, that autistic people lack a theory of mind or the ability to understand how other people think and put themselves
in their shoes.
But the truth is, neurodivergent people do care. We often do want to be social and have a great deal of empathy for other people.
We have a lot to offer, when it comes to love, kindness and care for other people.
We certainly don't lack anything. We just experience the world differently and express things differently.
A competing theory that's become more popular in recent years, is that autistic people don't lack a theory of mind, we just don’t understand how allistic, or non-autistic people, think. This is called the double empathy bind.
Allistic people have a greater understanding of how other allistic people think. And since most people aren’t autistic, it's easier for them to assume that they have a greater understanding of how all people think.
Autistic people understand how other autistic people think. They don't necessarily have that same understanding for how allistic people think.
How can this impact us?
There can be a lot of impacts to being differently social in a world that doesn't have a great understanding for what that means.
Being differently social can lead to low self esteem, social trauma, and greater reliance on masking behaviours to try to fit in.
It can lead to loneliness, and difficulty making friends.
It can have impacts on your career, because often jobs are not only about being able to perform your tasks well. They're also about being able to connect and get along with the people around you.
And for those who are interested in romantic relationships and experience romantic or sexual attraction, it can impact their ability to find people to connect with romantically or sexually.
Once we understand these differences and where they come from, it will be a lot easier to find strategies for connection and belonging that work with our social differences.
We also want to highlight the strengths that neurodivergent people and those who socialise differently possess that make them brilliant friends, partners and additions to a community.
Because being different does not mean being broken or wrong.