How Well Do YOU Know How Your Brain Works?

I’m guessing that if you’re neurotypical, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how your brain works. You have never really been forced to think about it because thinking and doing just happen seamlessly for you. And the results of that thinking/doing tend not to raise anyone’s eyebrows, whether you speak or not, or act in some kind of way around others. Your reactions are within the bounds of normal, socially acceptable behavior. Because of this normalcy and lack of conflict, there would really be no reason for you to question or examine how you think or how your brain works.

If you are autistic or otherwise neurodivergent, on the other hand, the way your brain works is actually important for you to understand and even control. For many neurodivergent folks this begins in childhood when observant parents begin to notice developmental delays or oddities. You may have been taken to a doctor who spoke about you to your parents in your presence and said things about you that you can recall vividly. (Many autistic folks, in particular, have excellent recall for this sort of thing.)

Or maybe it started in school when you were perfectly content skipping around the schoolyard by yourself or spinning around in circles (to make your skirt flare out). For some reason, the act of being content with oneself when you are a child tends to make other people think you are quite an odd duck, and many folks have absolutely no problem telling you that in no uncertain terms. However it happens, even if you are minding your own business and not causing any trouble for anyone, it will be made abundantly clear to you that other people think there is something wrong with you.

Now one has a couple of choices when in this predicament. First, you could ignore all the negative feedback and go on about your business. Eventually this will lead to some sort of additional ostracization, up to and including forced mental health treatment. Humans are meant to be social animals, after all. Knowing this, you may just buy into the idea that you are broken and take the socially appropriate steps to “fix” yourself, prescription medication and therapy.

Alternatively, you could adjust to the feedback and choose to try to connect to others, even if you don’t necessarily WANT to. There are ways to do this that are less likely to get you into trouble. Find a group affiliated with your passion, first of all. That way, if you’re into trains or a specific sport or foraging for mushrooms, you will find other people who are also obsessed and might not think you’re so weird.

The absolute best thing you can do, though, is to spend time really getting to know yourself. Turn the objective examination lens around and try to figure out the things you are undeniably good at and the things you are undeniably not. Then try to focus your intention to working around your deficits in order to let your skills shine. This will not be easy, but it is well worth the time. The positive traits that generally go along with being autistic are pretty remarkable. Our brains are wired for discovery, creativity and a depth of knowledge on very specific topics which others could only dream of. We just have to believe in ourselves enough to really understand how differently our brain goes about things.

If everyone spent a little more time understanding themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, etc, I believe we would be more likely to respect one another for being able to do things with ease that we struggle with greatly. It is impossible to look at the vast scope of the diversity in humanity and not be amazed. No one of us can be considered better than any other; we are all simultaneously extremely gifted and extremely flawed in our own unique ways.

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