Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Is Neurodiversity An Evolutionary Leap? | 5.26.24

Is Neurodiversity An Evolutionary Leap? | 5.26.24

We Are The Future - The Sunday Edition

“I’m just not made for this world,” is a sentiment I have shared either directly, or metaphorically through my poetry for years now. I remember feeling this, or some iteration of it, as early as elementary school, and I remember it feeling heavy. Truth is a weight we’re never quite prepared to carry, not far, and so we do our best to negotiate with it, to lighten the load with bartering or masking, with humor in my case, more than almost anything else. I’m just not made for this world, and blamed myself, blamed the machinations that spin this mind of mine, the cogs and gears, the little engine that could behind it all, turning the stressors my senses overload themselves on into fuel that keeps me laughing, keeps me writing, surviving.

What if I was wrong, all this time all these years all these poems, what if it’s not me at all? What if the world just isn’t made for me?

A thought experiment today, a winding road I hope you’ll ride down with me, born from a conversation with a fellow neurodivergent across a table I built with my own hands from wood older than any diagnosis. It begins where all great thought experiments begin, with a question and a simple one at that—What if?

What if neurodiverse people are an evolutionary leap forward, and eventually will become the dominant species?

In other words, what if we, and by we I mean all of my fellow NDs (neurodivergents will hereby be shortened for brevity sake) that fall somewhere on the spectrum of that diversity, and what if by evolutionary leap forward I mean we are the mutants from X-Men, the advanced and super-powered species that at the start will seem out-of-place, dangerous, and wrong to the masses, but due to these superpowers, will one day take over everything? What if, indeed?

Right now, we live in a world in which the entire infrastructure is set up for, customized to, and tolerable for neurotypicals (NTs henceforth) and the support of their needs, abilities, and comforts. In this reality, NDs seem “broken,” and unable to cope with status quo, we seem at odds with a society and environment that others seem perfectly accepting, and most often celebratory of. The “norms” that we’re all familiar with are devices of mass creation and adoption, a majority rules universe where the majority doesn’t (yet) deal with the obstacles that NDs are forced to contend with. The forms of socialization, celebration, interaction, industry, production, and every other ‘ion you can imagine, are all dictated by and influenced by this.

Glance around at almost any industry, and this reality shows itself. Concerts are held in massive stadiums filled with throngs of people, psychedelic strobe light shows, and volumes that are consistently proving to cause permanent damage to the ears and hearing of those at the show. This is normal. For many, many, ND people this is a layer of Hell even Dante would have struggled to concoct. What if, again, thought experiment so please work with me here, entertain the thought before immediately discounting it, what if this normalcy is the great delusion of the masses? What if living in this loud a world, this noisy (in all ways) an environment, is *gasp* NOT a great way to live?! What if those of us ill-equipped to cope with the din and the clamor are not disabled, but merely hypersensitive? What if our senses are quite literally evolved to hear what others cannot, see details that go unnoticed, instantly dissect the scents that waft our way into all of their representative parts, taste ingredients the moment food hits our tongue, and feel the electricity inside the skin of someone we touch? What if this is normal to us, and what if these are our superpowers, and what if we’re the first in what just might become the new normal one day, years and years from now?

Perhaps, as those convoluted X-Men movies showed, we need advisors of sorts in all positions of government and policy that are neurodivergent. Perhaps we need Less noise, less light, less overwhelming heat. Perhaps we need spaces dedicated to sensory reduction, not sensory overload, and perhaps we need to normalize thought processes that don’t fit into nice little categories. It’s always been a strange thing to me, the dynamic between NDs and NTs, as it’s always shown and portrayed as though the ND people are the “hard work” that are “tough to handle,” while NTs are easy, and being with them the much simpler task. It’s felt strange as long as I can remember, because with the exception of meltdowns that come alongside massive sensory overload, in my experience, NDs are almost always the steadier temperaments, almost always the less hyper-reactive and emotional, when it comes to relationships and the distributions of power, interest, and patience.


What if, all we’ve been indoctrinated since our youth to call broken, disabled, challenged, weird, quirky, or any other adjective that reduces an entire group of stunning individuals down to one teeming mass of disparity, are just the next step, the logical progression of humanity in the face of a planet that we’ve essentially destroyed, following the normal paths we’ve always followed?

What if this place IS too loud, what if it’s too bright, too overheated, what if we’re all too hyperconnected, too busy, say yes to too many things, no to too few? What if we have become so accustomed to lying through our smiling teeth for the sake of some bullshit idea of fitting in, we forgot what the truth tasted like? What if all of us NDs are the evolutionary leap to fix this place, to fix the noise, the light, the lying, the mass consumption that is eating our planet away a giant bite at a time?

One day, one shining day in some beautiful future, they’ll come to us for help, open hands and on their knees, begging for the answers that will set us free. One day, those that make the rules (only to break them secretly) will understand that the only way out is through, and we are the way through. That we do not have to live the way we live, we do not have to pretend, we do not have to tell half-truths and play mind games and say yes to a thousand things that sacrifice the serenity of our own souls. One day they’ll want to know how to make a world that is quieter, softer, and that pays more attention to the stunning miracles that exist all around us. One day, the delusion will fade and the curtain will fall and it will be us standing there and pointing at the fraud behind the machine, pulling the levers, throwing smoke into the air like a grenade. It will be us as Tinman, as Lion, as Scarecrow, Dorothy, and Toto, us broken few, us that struggle in a black and white world, when all we know is color. It will be us, and I’ll tell you a little secret, one that you might not expect:

We’ll take your hand, and we’ll see you through.

What they call broken,

this neurodiversity,

we call the future.

Haiku on Life by Tyler Knott Gregson

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Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Tyler Knott Gregson and his weekly "Sunday Edition" of his Signal Fire newsletter. Diving into life, poetry, relationships, sex, human nature, the universe, and all things beautiful.