Teenagers with neurodivergent issues are in need of more support than many people. It can be challenging for parents finding out if their children have autism of other neurological issues. Furries have recently started offering some solutions for teenagers with these conditions.
What Are Furries?
Furries are a group of people who are particularly interested in cartoon or animated animals. Typically these animals are anthropomorphic meaning they have human attributes like the ability to speak or they are bipedal. This doesn’t mean that they are people that are constantly running around in animal suits like you may believe if you have vaguely heard of furries before, nor does it mean that they are zoophiles that want to have sex with animals.
There’s a lot of misconceptions surrounding them which we will dive into later in the article but for now let’s clarify what they are. They are just people with an interest like any other and that interest happens to be animated anthropomorphic animals. They create what are known as fursonas (furry personas) and customize them. So what does this mean for neurodivergent people?
What Does Neurodivergent Mean?
For those who are unsure, neurodivergent refers to someone who differs in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal. This can be used in the case of autism, ADD, dyslexia and several other disorders.
Neurodivergence is a lot more common than some people think. It is expected that up to 20% of the population falls into this category.
For reasons that are currently unknown, the furry fandom seems to have a high volume of neurodivergent members, 15% of them claiming to be autistic. So let’s discuss what furries are doing to help this portion of their fanbase.
What Are They Doing For Neurodivergent Teenagers?
For one, Furscience suggests that when a furry creates a fursona they feel almost liberated as it allows them to create a persona that is separate from their personal life altogether. In the case of neurodivergent teenagers it grants them an escape from any stigmatization surrounding their condition and allows them to communicate with people normally without any fear of being defined by their neurodivergence. Services like Fursonafy literally make people’s fursonas for them if they don’t have the artistic ability to do it themselves.
As well as this, because of the high volume of neurodivergent members in the furry fandom, furry communities provide a safe, empathetic space for teenagers to talk about their disorder with complete anonymity. This is particularly evident at furry conventions like Anthrocon which saw an attendance of almost 10,000 in 2019, giving neurodivergent attendees a chance to make new friends, something that they may find harder in other environments.
Even neurotypical furries and the furry fandom as a whole is accepting of neurodivergence as the fandom itself bear a similarity in terms of their stigmatization. They are both completely misunderstood a lot of the time and treated differently as a result which is also why the fandom is not only accepting of but in support of almost all minorities, whether it be LGBTQ+, people of colour, non-binary people etc.
Is The Furry Fandom Safe For People On The Spectrum?
If you aren’t well informed about the furry fandom there’s a good chance that you think that there is some sort of sexual connotation with being a furry and while yes there is a sexual side to the fandom that is not at all what characterises being a furry. Being a furry is about self-acceptance and self-love, not being afraid of what people categorize you as just because of your interests.
You might think that a hot and claustrophobic fursuit may not be the most appropriate outfit for people on the spectrum and you are probably completely right. However, once again, fursuiting is just a sub-category within the fandom, meaning if you are a furry, it’s not compulsory that you wear a fursuit to call yourself so. Also, on the occasion that someone on the spectrum uncomfortable with wearing a fursuit does want to partake in fursuiting there are adjustments like larger suits or cooling pads that can be implemented to suit their needs.
How Do You Join The Furry Fandom?
Joining the fandom isn’t some official process you have to go through to call yourself a furry. Being a furry is just something you identify as if you feel it aligns with your interests meaning literally anyone can be a furry.