H is for Humour

Originally, I had planned to cover some of the history of the neurodiversity movement for H, but given that tomorrow’s post will include some history and we are still very much writing our history, I thought I should address another topic:


Many bloggers use humour. We create satirical posts/sites about things like Autism Parent Bingo, Field Notes on Allistics (site no longer active) and ToneItDownTaupe.

When we do this, some people interpret this as us expressing hatred for non-autistic people, but that’s a misinterpretation. We don’t hate non-autistic people.

“1. Neurodiversity is a natural and valuable form of human diversity.

2. The idea that there is one “normal” or “healthy” type of brain or mind, or one “right” style of neurocognitive functioning, is a culturally constructed fiction, no more valid (and no more conducive to a healthy society or to the overall well-being of humanity) than the idea that there is one “normal” or “right” ethnicity, gender, or culture.

3. The social dynamics that manifest in regard to neurodiversity are similar to the social dynamics that manifest in regard to other forms of human diversity (e.g., diversity of ethnicity, gender, or culture). These dynamics include the dynamics of social power inequalities, and also the dynamics by which diversity, when embraced, acts as a source of creative potential.”

Nick Walker

Those of us within the neurodiversity movement believe that all styles of neurocognitive functioning are valuable, and that includes non-autistic styles. If we were to create humorous posts because we hate non-autistic people, then we would not be upholding one of the main principles of the neurodiversity paradigm.

So, why do we make fun of non-autistic people?

We do it to highlight some of the oppression we experience in a light-hearted way. Yes, of course, we know that not all non-autistic people perpetuate our oppression, but many do. We are one of many neurominorities. Some non-autistic people may be part of another neurominority. Some non-autistic people may be neurotypical, and therefore, they will be the majority in terms of the oppression we experience. Importantly, this doesn’t refer to a majority in terms of numbers, but rather it refers to a majority in terms of social norms and what is considered ‘normal’.

We also use humour to educate people about how they can do better in terms of making the world more inclusive of us. We highlight what it would be like to be a member of a group that is pathologised. We use humour to challenge the social norms. We use humour to make people feel uncomfortable in the hopes that they can lean in to their discomfort and learn more.

And, very often, we use humour because our only alternative is to cry.

This is part of a series of posts addressing themes from the neurodiversity movement and paradigm which will be published during the course of April 2016. To read the rest of the posts, please click here.