It states that the perceived social communication deficits in neurodivergent people may not be due to an inherent impairment, but rather a reciprocal lack of understanding or empathy between different neurotypes.
This theory challenges the traditional deficit model of neurodivergence, emphasizing that empathy is a two-way process, and both parties bear responsibility for successful communication.
Neurodivergent people are already trying – meet us halfway
Masking and figuring out how to be more “acceptable” and clear in our meaning is already an ongoing effort for many neurodivergent people. Many of us are already spending way too much of our time figuring out how to change our ways to be understood, so it’s high time neurotypicals also make an effort. A good way to start is by breaking down prejudices and unlearning longstanding myths about neurodivergence and neurodivergent communication styles.
Autistic folk don’t lack ‘communication skills’, they just communicate in an autistic way.
How does double empathy work?
A neurodivergent person might struggle to understand social cues and norms that are intuitive to neurotypical individuals, leading to misunderstandings or miscommunications. This is not because they ‘lack’ communication skills, don’t have empathy or are emotionless robots (just a few of the myths still holding strong, unfortunately).
On the other hand, a neurotypical individual might misinterpret a neurodivergent person’s behaviour as rude or inappropriate, when it is simply a manifestation of their neurodivergence and a way of their style of communication. This is an example of the neurotypical individual’s lack of empathy and understanding towards the neurodivergent person’s experience and way of communication.
Just think of all the ‘signs in body language that implicate lying’: avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, looking at the floor, stuttering, not answering in full sentences…
No wonder so many neurotypical people straight out don’t trust neurodivergent folks, they’ve been taught that neurodivergent communication style equals lying and dishonesty – the rest is just rude and disrespectful. Thanks so much. (This was sarcasm.)