Facing Heads illustration - Credit: Getty Images / Scientific American
Facing Heads illustration - Credit: Getty Images / Scientific American

Different Points Of View On Neurodiversity Reflect Neurodiverse Thought (Not Trying To Be Ironic!)

What I appreciate about this article:

    • This article provides a comprehensive summary of the neurodiversity movement believes* (and does not) and contrasts that with the social model of disability (see below) …**
    • It defines the neurodiversity movement approach as focused on including and respecting people the neurodiversity approach is primarily a call to include and respect people whose brains work in atypical ways, regardless of their level of disability 
    • It clarifies that the neurodiversity movement believes in giving autistic people the tools to succeed in the workplace, but not shaming or pitying those who will never be financially (or physically) independent. 
    • It clarifies that the neurodiversity movement believes a person who needs lifelong care can also be happy and reach personal goals. 
    • It notes that one of the biggest social difficulties faced by autistic people is neurotypical people’s reluctance to interact with those they perceive as “different.”
    • It notes that enabling autistic individuals to expend energy on intellectual and physical endeavors vs. changing challenging behaviors is an important because studies are finally confirming what autistic people have said for decades: we get better outcomes when it’s the caregivers rather than the children who are taught to behave differently.
    • Autistic individuals learn differently than others and this means how they learn and the order in which they learn information will likely differ and needs to be understood and accommodated.
    • Respecting neurodiversity means challenging assumptions about what intelligence is and how to measure it

*Neurodiversity movement believes:

  • Autism and other neurological variations (learning disabilities, #ADHD, etc.) may be disabilities, but they are not flaws. People with neurological differences are not broken or incomplete versions of normal people.
  • #Disability, no matter how profound, does not diminish personhood. People with atypical brains are fully human, with inalienable human rights, just like everyone else.
  • People with disabilities can live rich, meaningful lives.
  • Neurological variations are a vital part of humanity, as much as variations in size, shape, skin color and personality. None of us has the right (or the wisdom) to try and improve upon our species by deciding which characteristics to keep and which to discard. Every person is valuable.
  • Disability is a complicated thing. Often, it’s defined more by society’s expectations than by individual conditions. Not always, but often.

**The social model of disability comes from the field of disability studies. 

  • It says that a person is “disabled” when the (societal) environment doesn’t accommodate their needs. An example: in a world where ramps and elevators are everywhere, a wheelchair user isn’t “disabled,” because he/she/they can access all the same things as a person who walks: schools, jobs, restaurants, etc. However, providing equal opportunity doesn’t mean ignoring the differences and difficulties a wheelchair user may experience.

Clearing Up Some Misconceptions About Neurodiversity

#Neurodiversity; #Disability; #ADHD

Leslie Ochroch
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