The Edge Effectby AspieKid, aspiekid.net
November 17th 2012
I’ve always lived on the edge. I was always an outsider. And it was usually by choice. I prefer the edge. I gravitate toward the edge. The edge is my domain in almost every facet of life. In social situations, I find myself lurking around the perimeter. Not to the point of excluding myself from social interaction, but just to leave myself enough room to be cautious about how I proceed with people I don’t know very well. Most people enjoy meeting me because I have interesting perspectives and a somewhat dry sense of humor, and many of them like my unusual intellect. They can tell that I am not mainstream of course, I am nowhere near the center of the bell curve. But there is something about my Bohemian personality and laid-back style that makes many of them fascinated by me. It is my social persona and I spent years nurturing it, observing them from afar, trying to figure out the rules of their social games from a safe distance. I’m a guy on the outside looking in. If you ever want to find me at a party, look for me near the edge.
You might even say I was born on the edge, in the neurological hinterlands they call the autism spectrum. And so I relate best to people who also feel a strong affinity for the edge. The ones who feel most grounded when they are on the fringe of it all. Many of my best friends are also autistic. And I have had great luck making friends with neurotypicals who identify well with autistics. Some NTs are very drawn to autistic personalities, and they even have a few autistic traits themselves. I think of that segment of the neurotypical spectrum as “NT-NOS”, because even though they are neurotypical, they were born on the cusp of the autism spectrum, and that makes it so much easier for me to relate to them and for them to relate to me. They have been my liaisons into the neurotypical world. I don’t know how I would have survived without them. They, too, are no strangers to the edge.The Edge Effect. Photo from Wikipedia. In the field of Ecology, there is something called the Edge Effect. When two different ecosystems are situated adjacent to each other, it creates an environment that neither ecosystem could create on its own. Environmental and biological anomalies exist along the edges of ecosystems, and as a direct result of those anomalies there is an increase in biodiversity along the edges. Hundreds of rare and different forms of life, flourishing together and living on the edge. This is what ecologists call the Edge Effect.
Most of the beauty in the world exists along the edges. Sunrises and sunsets happen at the edges of day and night. The edges of oceans, forests, jungles and prairies are some of the most scenic and biologically diverse places in the world.
Even though the edge is a relatively small part of the whole, it is the most important part of a community because the edge is where most of the diversity is. Without biodiversity, entire ecosystems are at risk of collapsing. Diversity within a single species works the same way. Species that don’t have enough genetic diversity among their members will ultimately go extinct. When a species tries to eliminate its own diversity under the pretext that they are “curing” something, it raises some serious questions about morality, ethics, social engineering, predatory drug marketing, individuality and civil rights.
Just like the ecological Edge Effect produces enough biological diversity to sustain an ecosystem, so too does the neurological Edge Effect produce diverse ideas, creative solutions to problems, scientific discoveries, inventions and incredible artistic expressions. Neurodiversity should be preserved and protected, just like biodiversity should be. Sometimes the survival of an entire community depends on what exists along its edge.
I believe I speak for most of us who reside along the edge when I ask that you please don’t expect me to blend in with the neurologically homogeneous segment of human society. I have made it one of my life’s goals to avoid all of that, and I don’t need any help figuring out where I feel the most comfortable. I take refuge along the marches of civilization because I see no value in abandoning diversity in favor of homogeneity. I like it right where I am, where all the diversity is, where all the life is, where all the beauty is. I am proud to live on the edge.
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