Why can’t my neurodivergence be accommodated, too?

“Back the fork up. I’m about to explode like my little kiddos house in Minecraft when it’s built from TNT” (Molly, 7:56). Today, we are talking about needing accommodations but not always getting them because we are the one’s doing the accommodations most of the time. Because we can…until we can’t. We talk about why “functioning” is not an appropriate assessment for someone’s support needs, how we can normalize setting meeting expectations and using a “User Manual” to support communications with others, and that assholes aren’t always assholes, but maybe just people who need support but aren’t given the opportunity to access that support. 

Judgey McJudgerson

“When we are not accommodated at our worst, it does not feel like we are respected or accommodated…or deserving of that accommodation” (Molly, 10:14). There is a lot of talk in our community about not using “functioning” labels. But, we—all humans, not just NTs or NDs—still look at what people are generally able to do and build our expectations based on that experience. This is an inherent human trait and exactly why “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is so popular. Nobody wants to be the person who judges, but it is unreasonable to think that we are never judgmental. 

Angela says, “my executive function is affected by my sensory environment. Therefore, when I create my sensory environment—which I work from home, so I do—I am able to get a lot of shit done” (4:22).  They go on to explain how, often, people judge her needs on that ability, but they aren’t seeing all of the other things or the work that (doesn’t) happen outside of that “perfect” environment. “This is where these functioning labels don’t freakin’ work” (Angela 42:50).

Do you have a User Manual?

Angela expresses, “It is MY responsibility to communicate my needs so that they are met up front, not in the moment when I’m already burnt out” (31:48). Molly brings up the User Manual which Angela shares with folks so they can better work together. She says, “I feel like one thing that many neurodivergent folks need is contingency plans, understanding kind of a bigger picture of things, understanding how to act in certain situations, giving scripts, giving solutions (16:08). 

“Having 20 minutes of free range conversation prior to a meeting is going to help 50% Probably, and destroy 50%. So now who’s productive?” (Molly, 22:01) Point being that you can’t make everyone happy all the time and that everyone deserves to have their needs met in order to best work together toward a common goal. It is not a simple solution not simply a matter of spoons.

Speaking of Spoons

“That last spark from last night’s last match has landed on today’s matches and incinerated them. You’ve overdone it again. Held the match for too long. Let it burn down til your fingers blister” Psarah Johnson, who blogged a phenomenal take on Spoon Theory (26:24). “We need to be able to say I have this last match. I only have this one. I cannot and I am not willing to spend this match on the thing that you want me to” (Angela, 29:20). And then you are the asshole when they offer you a new box of matches not realizing that, in doing so, they have completely invalidated your entire existence as a human being. 

Am I really the Asshole here?

Molly says, “I didn’t know when someone was being an asshole or…where somebody was just…not understanding the conversation” (11:27) and that anytime you have two people communicating there can be times when someone is perceived as an asshole. They go on to posit that the conversation could be less about feeling harmed by the “asshole” and more about why they are being an asshole, especially if that is not their norm. 

Angela shares how she worries everyday about being seen as the “narcissist CEO” because there is a lot of talk about that in the media right now. She admits that people often describe her as standoffish or intimidating and how that can affect the work she does and wants to do for the community negatively. “You know, me meeting a donor for time number one and their first impression is ‘this person’s an asshole. That’s not good” (37:04). But is she really the asshole? They say no, BUT…”it’s my responsibility to set things up in a way so that I am able to work in a capacity that I need, while also respecting the needs of other people. So that we can get stuff done that we want to get done for our community” (43:15). And that right there is why we ask “why is this person being an asshole?” Because is someone who thinks like that—whether you see it or not—actually an asshole?


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