The Trouble With “Common Sense”

Blonde woman looking confused with a bunch of white question marks in the background with black text on white that reads, "The trouble with 'common sense'"

Of all the phrases in the neurotypical world that bug me (and there are quite a few), this one has got to be in my top five.

I can’t tell you how many times I said that I did not know something or “nobody told me” when I’d made some social mistake or work error, only to have a response of, “But…it’s common sense!” from someone who appeared to be seething with barely controlled rage and frustration.

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The best way to improve communication with your autistic loved one is to understand how your autistic loved one’s mind works! Intentions, motivations, and personal expressions (facial expressions or lack thereof, body language, etc.), are often quite different in autistic people than they are in neurotypical people.

Experience a better understanding of your autistic loved one by reading books about life from an autistic perspective as well as stories that feature autistic characters. You’ll have so many “Ah ha!” moments and start seeing your autistic loved one in a different light (and you’ll have a better understanding of their behaviors, which you may have been misinterpreting up until now).

Books I recommend for a better understanding of your autistic loved one:

I honestly believe that “common sense” is something that neurodiverse people struggle with because neurotypical people pick up on subtle nuances so automatically, and they have a very difficult time understanding that not everybody does.

There’s a lot of things NT people learn without ever being directly told, and, it seems that most of these things have to do with social cues and what’s expected while on the job.

Neurodivergent people are more likely to pick up on other things that neurotypical people may not (subtle changes in the energy or ‘vibe’ of a person or situation, for example), but not on social and career expectations.

So, what can we do? Is there any way to avoid grievous social and work-related errors before they arise? ND people seem to try to do this by asking “why” frequently, but, as you’ve seen from past posts, this tactic is often misunderstood and poorly received.

There are no “common sense” classes, so how is a neurodivergent person to learn if questions are viewed poorly?

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4 Responses

  1. Caryn says:

    I often feel as if neurotypical people are the ones who don’t use common sense. I see them do things like break traffic laws (such as speed limits) just because they feel like it, tell lies when they don’t really need to, and believe that something is right just because “that’s how it’s always been done.” Then they get all annoyed with me for not knowing things that don’t feel obvious to me at all. It’s so confusing! Is common sense subjective? That thought scares me a little.

  1. May 21, 2020

    […] out a lot of details, too, because the writers assume you know such and such because it’s “common sense”. Not to […]

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