The meaning of the term "neurodiversity"

Mona_PerethMona_Pereth Citizen
edited February 15 in Advocacy
The term "neurodiversity" was coined in the late 1990's by Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist.  See the following articles:


Some people seem to have the idea that "neurodiversity" is all about "superpowers" and denial of disability.  That's incorrect.  While acknowledgment of whatever strengths an individual may have is indeed important, the neurodiversity movement is, first and foremost, a branch of the disability rights movement.

In other disability communities too (e.g. blind and deaf), it is considered important to identify whatever strengths a person may have, and, if possible, to use those strengths to educate the person, with the ultimate goal of gainful employment.  Of course this isn't a feasible goal for all disabled people, but it's certainly desirable when possible.

The disability rights movement, in general, advocates both of the following, for people with disabilities of any kind:

  • For those who can work, acknowledgment and encouragement of strengths, and providing needed accommodations.

  • For those who can't work, the supports needed to have as much freedom as is reasonably possible, and protection from institutional abuse.

The neurodiversity movement advocates both of the above for neurodivergent people of all kinds (not just autistic people).


Comments

  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor
    I'm not going to comment my opinion of neurodiversity being this is a safe site

  • The disability rights movement, in general, advocates both of the following, for people with disabilities of any kind:

    • For those who can work, acknowledgment and encouragement of strengths, and providing needed accommodations.

    • For those who can't work, the supports needed to have as much freedom as is reasonably possible, and protection from institutional abuse.

    The neurodiversity movement advocates both of the above for neurodivergent people of all kinds (not just autistic people).
    I hope they include the broad spectrum of in-betweens who need both in various proportions.
  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen
    To me it is a model.

    I think a person shouldn't have to identify with a model if they don't wish to.

    I understand the concerns with it. I think than is more about those concern in general as people have very different view about ableism and disability. Some people project the "reality" they want, while other take more pragmatic view.

    There is always a risk when term is used in activism that it become part of the One True Scotsman fallacy
  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen
    Statest16 said:
    I'm not going to comment my opinion of neurodiversity being this is a safe site
    You can express your opinion about neurodiversity, you have already done.

  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor
    verity said:
    Statest16 said:
    I'm not going to comment my opinion of neurodiversity being this is a safe site
    You can express your opinion about neurodiversity, you have already done.

    Ok
  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen
    edited February 15
    What can happen in advocacy is people feel very strongly about an issue, sometimes definitions and models are used in questionable ways, becuase ideological people sometimes believe the ends justify the means. Sometimes definitions are switched and conflated either deliberately or subconsciously, unfortunately this is quite unhelpful for advocacy.

    Coupled with social or medical theories, plus general lack of experience and interaction with the "whole spectrum", you can get polarisation of views within the community as they experience their side of things

    It is easy for one person to say that another's views are conditioned by society or nature due to some social/medical model, but they are not them so that is not always whole story, and they don't know what they have not experienced.

    So I do understand the hesitance and suspicion toward various models, due to their association with certain factions. However this is modern politics in general, certain policies are "supposed" to be partisan even if it is not clear why they become so.

    I view models as exactly that, models. They are useful if they are viewed in their context and not as something you have to pin to your shirt. 

    What I consider to be nuerodiversity is less a movement and more a factual term for diversity of neurology, whatever that may be.

    If I promote nuerodiversity as a concept that includes the good and the bad, but trying to promote this understanding in order to make people lives easier. Not to patronise people.

  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor
    Does it benefit anyone?
  • I prefer it to the pathology model which describes Autism in terms of disorder and disability.
    I'm not disordered and I'm not disabled.
  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen
    My understanding of Neurodiversity was based on the broad definition which  includes the differing neurological ways of being that are mentioned in the links, dyslexia, ADHD Autism etc. I'm not au fait with how the term is being used politically, but when I think of and speak about Neurodiversity I consider it to be about the above.

    I guess most of us here wont have participated in the original 1960s civil rights movements which included disability rights, but they broke ground for us, we all have had it easier, even if only in small ways because of their actions.

    I see myself as having a disability, I have no doubt about that, there is a trail of evidence for it in my past, lol, but if I was in a world where being openly Autistic wasn't a barrier to my hopes in life and I was given a choice, I would call it a difference. I think broadly speaking, the disability rights movement is about the accommodation of that difference, it focuses on strengths.
  • firemonkeyfiremonkey Citizen
    edited February 16


    Velorum said:
    I prefer it to the pathology model which describes Autism in terms of disorder and disability.
    I'm not disordered and I'm not disabled.

    Why did you seek a dx if you consider yourself non disabled & non disordered? I've heard  quite a few other people say similar things ,and have never got my head around it.
  • magpie said:

    The disability rights movement, in general, advocates both of the following, for people with disabilities of any kind:

    • For those who can work, acknowledgment and encouragement of strengths, and providing needed accommodations.

    • For those who can't work, the supports needed to have as much freedom as is reasonably possible, and protection from institutional abuse.

    The neurodiversity movement advocates both of the above for neurodivergent people of all kinds (not just autistic people).
    I hope they include the broad spectrum of in-betweens who need both in various proportions.
    Certainly the "in-betweens" are important too.  I'm sorry for the over-simplification.  My intended point  was that the neurodiversity movement -- like the disability rights movenent in general -- isn't just for the work-capable folks.

  • Mona_PerethMona_Pereth Citizen
    edited February 19
    Statest16 said:
    Does it benefit anyone?
    It most certainly does.

    First, to maximize the likelihood that a child will grow up to have an at least somewhat successful career, it is essential to look for, and to encourage, the child's strengths, whatever they might be.  As Stephen Shore has said, you can't build a career on just remediated weaknesses.

    Second, a lot of us could function better, and could have a generally much better life, if it were more widely recognized that we can function better with suitable accommodations.

    Admittedly the neurodiversity movement has, so far, fallen far short of its potential.  That's because the autistic community and other neurodivergent communities aren't yet sufficiently well-organized to sustain a powerful civil rights movement.  The autistic rights movement, what little we have of one, piggybacks on the much larger disability rights movement, but does not seem to me to have much power in its own right, although it has managed to win some victories here and there.

    Of course, our social difficulties make organizing hard.  But we need to organize.  See Longterm visions for the autistic community.





  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen
    edited February 20
    For me neurodiversity never had this strong association with work.

    I mean work is a major part of life it is almost as if people can't stop talking about work. I find myself doing it.

    Obviously it is related to work becuase everything does and it leads onto discussions of ability v.s. disability and work. 

    When we talk of work I think of vocation, this goes beyond what many think of as jobs, and into assistive or adaptive living.

    The way I think of neurodiversity is a separate but related concept, about how we all think differently becuase out different neurology necessitates it. Variety is ultimately beneficial to society, even if people aren't always valued.

    Very rarely is vocation a black and white issue, but people can feel left out, or not involved in their own fate.

    The reason why I like separate out concept, is becuase I'm not really a fan of amalgamated moments. Thinking holisticly is fine, but not in a closed model of intangible concepts pinned to immutable traits using bad arithmetic. More recently the civil rights "movement" has taken a knock becuase different causes have been over-entangled, due to over dominant and divisive ideology, and this has only lead to further resentment on all sides.  I feel this is to the detriment not  advancement of civil rights, but that is a topic in its own right.

    I think disability rights like many other movements should go back to basics, and regain the standing it had in its own right. I would encourage others to promote specific causes they are interested in without direction from a central movement.

    I'm not against cooperation I should add, but just like neurodiversity is about diversity neurology, we should have diversity of civil rights movements, including views, approaches. Any movement that sweep everything under its owns model, you should be wary of especially if it comes with dogma attached.

    Neurodiversity isn't such a movement, but I can certainly understand why folk would be suspicious about it becuase some dogmatic movement do like to adopt ("appropriate" in their own parlance) terms and weaponise them. Then we get on the the "one true Scotsman" game, and the bait and switch tactics that are unfortunately become common in politics in general.

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