The concept of neurodiversity is based on the diversity of human brains and minds – the infinite variation in neurocognitive functioning within our species. The word is relatively new, invented by an autistic sociologist named Judy Singer in the 1990s to describe conditions like autism, dyslexia, and ADHD.
The paradigm of neurodiversity shifts the focus away from the concept of impairment, deficit, or disorder and instead recognizes that many atypical forms of brain wiring also come with their own strengths and benefits. It recognizes that neurological differences like autism, ADHD, and dyslexia are normal variations in the human genome, different but not broken. Like biodiversity is necessary for life, neurodiversity is responsible for many of the world’s technological and inventive steps forward – playing a crucial role in the balance and diversity of the human experience. “The idea that there is one “normal” or “healthy” type of brain or mind, or one “right” style of neurocognitive functioning, is a culturally constructed fiction, no more valid (and no more conducive to a healthy society or to the overall well-being of humanity) than the idea that there is one “normal” or “right” ethnicity, gender, or culture.” – Foundations for Divergent Minds
Understanding that neurodivergent people are valuable variations in the world around us can help us start creating a society of acceptance and understanding, a system that stops “othering” humans who are different. This comes into practice most acutely in the realms of healthcare and education – two systems which have long pathologized neurodiversity. By supporting the differences of neurodivergent people rather than attempting to “normalize” their behavior or learning methods, outcomes are far healthier. “We don’t pathologize a calla lily by saying it has a ‘petal deficit disorder,’” writes Thomas Armstrong, author of Neurodiversity in the Classroom. “Similarly, we ought not to pathologize children who have different kinds of brains and different ways of thinking and learning.”
let’s dive in
books i recommend
loud hands: autistic people, speaking
Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking is a collection of essays written by and for Autistic people. Spanning from the dawn of the Neurodiversity movement to the blog posts of today, Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking catalogues the experiences and ethos of the Autistic community and preserves both diverse personal experiences and the community’s foundational documents together side by side.
Neuroqueer Heresies collects a decade’s worth of Dr. Walker’s most influential writings, along with new commentary by the author and new material on her radical conceptualization of Neuroqueer Theory.
This book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the foundations, terminology, implications, and leading edges of the emerging neurodiversity paradigm.
NeuroTribes considers the idea that neurological differences such as autism, dyslexia, and ADHD are not errors of nature or products of the toxic modern world, but the result of natural variations in the human genome. This groundbreaking book will reshape our understanding of the history, meaning, function, and implications of neurodiversity in our world.
Resources for Further Learning
resource websites & e-books
And Straight on Till Morning: Essays on Autism Acceptance
A Curriculum for Self Advocates
Understanding the Autistic Mind
ASAN Resources on Coverage for Autism-Related Services
Inclusive Meetings:The Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s Community Living