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Encyclopedia > Neurodiversity
Autism rights movement
Issues
Ethical challenges to treatment
Controversies about labels
Organizations
Aspies For Freedom
Autism Network International
Philosophy
Autistic pride · Autistic culture
Neurodiversity · Neurotypical
People
Michelle Dawson · Temple Grandin
Jerry Newport · Amanda Baggs
Jim Sinclair
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Neurodiversity is an idea that asserts that atypical (neurodivergent) neurological wiring is a normal human difference that is to be tolerated and respected as any other human difference.[1] The concept of neurodiversity was created by some autistic individuals and people with related conditions, who believe that autism is not a disorder, but a part of who they are, and that curing autistic people would be the same as destroying their original personalities and replacing them with different people. This term is preferred by some parents of autistic children over such names as "abnormal", "disabled", among others. Neurodiversity is the preferred term for some people as applied to autistics, similar to the way intellectual disability is applied to those who are mentally retarded. Some people apply the concept of neurodiversity to developmental speech disorders as well as dyslexic, dyspraxic and hyperactive people. The autism rights movement (which has also been called autistic self-advocacy movement [2] and autistic liberation movement [3]) was started by adult autistic individuals in order to advocate and demand tolerance for what they refer to as neurodiversity. ... Ethical challenges to autism treatment have been made by people who feel that autism therapies intended to be helpful are actually harmful to autistic people. ... There are many controversies about functioning labels in the autism spectrum. ... Infinity logo as a positive representation of autism Aspies For Freedom is a group which is at the forefront of the autism rights movement. ... Autism Network International (ANI) is an advocacy organization run by and for autistic people. ... Autistic pride is about shifting ones outlook from a scientific, reductionistic, pathologizing orientation to one that sees the innate potential in all human phenotypic expressions and celebrating the diversity various neurological types express. ... It has been suggested that autistic community be merged into this article or section. ... Neurotypical (or NT) is a term used to describe a person whose neurological development and state are typical, conforming to what most people would perceive as normal. ... Michelle Dawson is an autistic, autism researcher and autism rights activist who is most well known for writing a paper challenging the ethical and scientific foundations of Applied Behavioral Analysis(ABA)-based autism interventions and challenging ABA in the Supreme Court of Canada. ... Dr. Temple Grandin, one of the more successful adults with autism. ... Jerry Newport (born August 19, 1948) is an author with Aspergers Syndrome whose life was the basis for the feature-length movie Mozart and the Whale (2005). ... Amanda Baggs is an autism rights activist. ... Jim Sinclair is an autism rights activist who is prominent in Autism Network International. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Autism is a brain development disorder that shows symptoms before a child is three years old and has a steady course with no remission. ... Developmental disability is a term used to describe severe, life-long disabilities attributable to mental and/or physical impairments, manifested before the age of 22. ... Mental retardation (abbreviated as MR), is a term for a pattern of persistently slow learning of basic motor and language skills (milestones) during childhood, and a significantly below-normal intellectual capacity as an adult. ... Speech disorders or speech impediments, as they are also called, are a type of communication disorders where normal speech is disrupted. ... This article is about developmental dyslexia. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Apraxia. ... Hyperactivity can be described as a state in which a person is abnormally easily excitable and exuberant. ...

Contents

Views on prejudice

The term neurodiversity is usually used as a statement against prejudice and bigotry towards autism and other neurological differences, which has been claimed to be the following by neurodiversity proponents: For with(out) prejudice in law, see Prejudice (law). ... A bigot is a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own. ...

  • Attempts to cure, medicate, institutionalize or force behavioral changes in autistics either against their will or without knowing their will.
  • References to the neuroanatomical differences of autistics as "abnormalities" or "damage".
  • Intolerant attitudes toward autistic behavior that may be perceived as odd or unusual.
  • Intolerance toward difficulties autistic people often have.
  • Discrimination against people for being autistic or because of autistic traits or behaviors.
  • Lack of accommodations for difficulties associated with autism.
  • Attitude that autistics are inferior to neurotypical people.
  • Belief that autism is a disease that needs to be cured or that there is something wrong with being autistic.
  • Institutions designed without consideration of autistics (for example: schools with heavy demand on social skills that may be hard for autistics).
  • Barriers to participation in society due to difficulties associated with autism that could have been accommodated (for example, a technically competent autistic person may lose a job because of social awkwardness or may never get past the interview stage).
  • Lack of protection for autistics in equal employment opportunity legislation.
  • Administration of drugs to children for minor conditions that won't affect their normal development such as ADHD.

This article is about discrimination in the social science context. ... Neurotypical (or NT) is a term used to describe a person whose neurological development and state are typical, conforming to what most people would perceive as normal. ... Equal opportunity is a descriptive term for an approach intended to provide a certain social environment in which ensure people are not excluded from the activities of society, such as education, employment, or health care, on the basis of immutable traits. ... DISCLAIMER Please remember that Wikipedia is offered for informational use only. ...

Proponents

Many supporters of neurodiversity are anti-cure autistics, who are engaged in advocacy. In addition, some parents of autistic children also support neurodiversity and the view that autism is a unique way of being, rather than a disease to be cured. Such parents say they value their children's individuality and want to allow their children to develop naturally. For example, Morton Ann Gernsbacher is a parent of an autistic child and a psychology professor, who argues that autistics need acceptance, not a cure, and endorses the theory that autism cannot be separated from the person[2]. According to proponents, autistics may need therapies only to cure comorbid conditions, or to develop useful skills. Forcing autistics to act as desired, or trying get rid of autistic neurological wiring is condemned. The proponents think that if autistics face more difficulties in life, the source are the society's institutions and habits, not autism itself. Morton Ann Gernsbacher is Vilas Research Professor & Sir Frederic Bartlett Professor of Psychology at University of Wisconsin. ... Psychology (from Greek: ψυχή, psukhē, spirit, soul; and λόγος, logos, knowledge) is both an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. ... In medicine and in psychiatry, comorbidity is either The presence of one or more disorders (or diseases) in addition to a primary disease or disorder; or The effect of such additional disorders or diseases. ...


Dr. Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D., a prominent critic of ADHD as a disorder, has adopted and endorsed the term neurodiversity [2]. Autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen, without using the term explicitly, has allowed for the possibility that high-functioning autism may lead to 'difference' rather than 'disability' [3]. DISCLAIMER Please remember that Wikipedia is offered for informational use only. ... Simon Baron-Cohen is a British professor of developmental psychopathology in the departments of psychiatry and experimental psychology at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...


The arguments for considering autism and other conditions a form of neurodiversity (as opposed to true disorders) are the following: Autism is a brain development disorder that shows symptoms before a child is three years old and has a steady course with no remission. ... A mental illness or mental disorder refers to one of many mental health conditions characterized by distress, impaired cognitive functioning, atypical behavior, emotional dysregulation, and/or maladaptive behavior. ...

  • It has not been demonstrated that autistic behavior, in all or most cases, has a cause that is pathological in nature.
  • Autism is about as heritable as personality or IQ.
  • The genetic variations (or alleles) that account for the autism genotype have not been shown to be pathogenic, and in fact, some of the gene loci identified so far are prevalent in the general population. Even if a genetic variation is a rare mutation, that in itself does not imply pathology.
  • Some autistics report that they like being autistic, or that autism confers them with a special way of looking at the world, or a special talent, claiming that autism "is a beautiful thing." This is inconsistent with the way most pathologies are perceived by sufferers.
  • Autism is not life-threatening in general, as the life expectancy of autistics is about the same as that of neurotypicals.
  • The unexplained rapid increase in the prevalence of autism is a strong indication of the subjectivity involved in diagnosing autism as a disorder.

Pathology (in ancient Greek pathos = pain/pation and logos = word) is the study of diseases. ... The heritability of autism is debated by psychology researchers, parents of children diagnosed with autism, and members of the autistic community. ... Personality psychology is a branch of psychology which studies personality and individual differences. ... IQ redirects here; for other uses of that term, see IQ (disambiguation). ... For the hard rock band, see Allele (band). ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Short and long arms Chromosome. ... Pathology (from Greek pathos, feeling, pain, suffering; and logos, study of; see also -ology) is the study of the processes underlying disease and other forms of illness, harmful abnormality, or dysfunction. ... World map of human life expectancy, 2005 Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average length of survival of a living thing. ... Neurotypical (or NT) is a term used to describe a person whose neurological development and state are typical, conforming to what most people would perceive as normal. ... The advent of a possible autism epidemic was first suggested in the mid-1990s by a handful of healthcare professionals who noticed sharp increases in the numbers being diagnosed and reported to public health agencies. ...

Opponents

Because autistic people usually have some challenges in life, there are some people who think finding a cure for autism would be in the best interest of autistics. These people believe a cure for autism is the best way to solve the problems of autistics, and see it as unfair and inappropriate to characterize the desire to cure autism as bigotry. [4] [5] [6]


At issue is whether autism, ADHD and so on are true disorders or better explained as neurodiversity. So far the term has not been addressed much in the scientific literature. No reference to the term appears in the Medline index. Autism is a brain development disorder that shows symptoms before a child is three years old and has a steady course with no remission. ... DISCLAIMER Please remember that Wikipedia is offered for informational use only. ... A mental illness or mental disorder refers to one of many mental health conditions characterized by distress, impaired cognitive functioning, atypical behavior, emotional dysregulation, and/or maladaptive behavior. ...


Some parents of autistic children believe neurodiversity is an excuse not to treat autism and a coping mechanism for avoidance and denial[citation needed]. But others point out that pro-cure attitudes often stem from denial of any genetic contribution from the parents. Neurodiversity and autism acceptance (rather than denial) are generally thought to be related.


History of the term

The earliest published use of the term appears on Sept 30, 1998 in the article "Neurodiversity" by Harvey Blume :

Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? Cybernetics and computer culture, for example, may favor a somewhat autistic cast of mind.[3]

Previous to this, although he did not make explicit use of the term 'Neurodiversity', Blume writes in a New York Times piece on April 8, 1997:

... anyone who explores the subject on the Internet quickly discovers an altogether different side of autism. In cyberspace, many of the nation's autistics are doing the very thing the syndrome supposedly deters them from doing -- communicating.
Yet, in trying to come to terms with an NT-dominated world, autistics are neither willing nor able to give up their own customs. Instead, they are proposing a new social compact, one emphasizing neurological pluralism.
The consensus emerging from the Internet forums and Web sites where autistics congregate (...) is that NT is only one of many neurological configurations -- the dominant one certainly, but not necessarily the best.[4]

Blume is also notable for his early public advocacy and prediction of the role the internet would play in fostering neurodiversity.

There is a political dimension to this bond with the Internet. A project called CyberSpace 2000 is devoted to getting as many people as possible in the autistic spectrum hooked up by the year 2000, reason being that "the Internet is an essential means for autistic people to improve their lives, because it is often the only way they can communicate effectively."
... the community of autistics, which may not have matured and come to self-awareness without the Internet, presents the rest of us with a challenge.
The challenge we will all be increasingly confronted with, on-line and off, is, to look at ourselves differently than we have before, that is, to accept neurological diversity.
NT is only one way to be. [5]


On Feb 1, 1999, Judy Singer wrote in her Honours Thesis,

... the key significance of the "Autistic Spectrum" lies in its call for and anticipation of a politics of "Neurodiversity". The "Neurologically Different" represent a new addition to the familiar political categories of class / gender / race and will augment the insights of the social model of disability."


A print citation is given for the Coventry Evening Telegraph (UK) (Jan. 14th 2004 )with reference to the Coventry and Warwickshire Neurodiversity Group who describe the term thus: is the 14th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


"Neurodiversity is a word that has been around since autistic people started putting sites on the internet. It has since been expanded to include not just people who are known as "autistics and cousins", but to express the idea that a diversity of ways of human thinking is a good thing, and dyslexic, autistic, ADHD, dyspraxic and tourettes people to name but a few all have some element in common not being neurotypical in the way our brains work." [7] This article is about developmental dyslexia. ... DISCLAIMER Please remember that Wikipedia is offered for informational use only. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Apraxia. ... Tourette syndrome (also called Tourettes syndrome, Tourettes disorder, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, GTS or, more commonly, simply Tourettes or TS) is an inherited neurological disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by the presence of multiple physical (motor) tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic; these...


Whilst the term most appears within the online autistic community, its usage has spread outside to a more general meaning sometimes hotly disputed between its proponents as to whether it is inclusive of people with conditions like Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis etc. Whilst others prefer to confine it to the invisible conditions such as those outlined by the Developmental Adult Neurodiversity Association in the UK. [8] Autistic communities are groups of people who have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, or who have self-identified as autistic, along with family members and other supporters. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...


Certainly the term has been eagerly sought amongst top level domain name registrations, with neurodiversity.com, neurodiversity.com.au and neurodiversity.info being examples, and there is no doubt that the term has seen a boost with the New York Times article by Amy Harmon.


Amy Harmon, "The Disability Movement Turns to Brains," The New York Times, May 9, 2004 is the 129th day of the year (130th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


See also

Autistic communities are groups of people who have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, or who have self-identified as autistic, along with family members and other supporters. ... The autism rights movement (which has also been called autistic self-advocacy movement [2] and autistic liberation movement [3]) was started by adult autistic individuals in order to advocate and demand tolerance for what they refer to as neurodiversity. ... Neurotypical (or NT) is a term used to describe a person whose neurological development and state are typical, conforming to what most people would perceive as normal. ... It has been suggested that autistic community be merged into this article or section. ... Asperger described his patients as little professors. Aspergers syndrome (AS, or the more common shorthand Aspergers), is characterized as one of the five pervasive developmental disorders, and is commonly referred to as a form of high functioning autism. ... There is considerable disagreement over the exact nature of autism, however it is generally considered to be a neurodevelopmental condition which manifests itself in markedly abnormal social interaction, communication ability, patterns of interests, and patterns of behavior. ... Ableism is a term used to describe discrimination against people with disabilities in favor of people who are able-bodied. ... Manifestations Slavery · Racial profiling · Lynching Hate speech · Hate crime · Hate groups Genocide · The Holocaust · Pogrom Ethnocide · Ethnic cleansing · Race war Religious persecution · Gay bashing Blood libel · Black Legend Pedophobia · Ephebiphobia Movements Discriminatory Aryanism · Neo-Nazism · Ku Klux Klan National Party (South Africa) American Nazi Party Kahanism · Supremacism Anti-discriminatory Abolitionism... The Eternal Jew: 1937 German poster. ... Disablism is discriminatory, oppressive, or abusive behaviour arising from the belief that people with disabilities are inferior to others. ... Heightism is a form of discrimination based on height. ... Linguicism is a form of prejudice, an -ism along the lines of racism, ageism or sexism. ... Racism is a belief or concept that inherent differences between people (such as those upon which the concept of race is based) determine cultural or individual achievement, and may involve the idea that ones own race is superior. ... To discriminate is to make a distinction. ...

External links

  • Supporting Views
    • Neurodiversity.com 'honoring the variety of human wiring'
    • Autistics.org 'The real voice of autism'
    • The Autistic Self Advocacy Network - An organization run by autistics dedicated to providing the autistic community a real voice in public policy
    • Aspies.co.uk site about AS - 'I don't believe aspies should be "cured" or forced to be "normal"'
    • Celebrate Autism Today "Autism is a difference, not a disease."
    • Word Spy on Neurodiversity The Word Spy discusses the emerging concept of neurodiversity
    • TAAProjectThe Autism Acceptance Project supports work and views of autistic people
    • Neurodiversity Now Essays and a link to a livejournal discussion
    • Autism National Committee (Autcom) - "Social Justice for All Citizens with Autism"
    • Autism-hub.co.uk AutismHub - 'the very best in autism blogging'
  • Opposing Views
    • GenerationRescue Website that believes autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning.
    • FEAT Families for Early Autism Treatment, a parent run pro cure site.
    • Cure Autism Now The Cure Autism Now Foundation

References

  1. ^ http://www.donnawilliams.net/ntswhenaword.0.html?&L=0
  2. ^ Gernsbacher, Morton Ann. "Autistics Need Acceptance, Not Cure". Autism Information Library. Autistics. Org. Saturday, April 24, 2004. http://www.autistics.org/library/acceptance.html URL accessed 2 February 2007.
  3. ^ Blume, Harvey. "Neurodiversity". The Atlantic , New York City. Sept 30, 1998. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/199809u/neurodiversity URL accessed 3 May 2007.
  4. ^ Blume, Harvey, "Autistics, freed from face-to-face encounters, are communicating in cyberspace", The New York Times, April 8, 1997
  5. ^ [1]Blume, Harvey. Autism and the Internet, July 1, 1997. Media In Transition, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Special Education and the Concept of Neurodiversity (2143 words)
Neurodiversity is a term that was first used in the Asperger's/autistic community by an Australian disability activist named Judy Singer in the late 1990's.
Similarly, neurodiverse children will be seen as having their own differing ecological thriving factors, and it will be a key role for a neurodiversity specialist to understand each child's unique needs for optimal growth.
This dimension of neurodiversity, of course, is bound to be the most controversial, since culture defines itself, according to former American Psychological Association president Nicholas Hobbs, by the categories of deviance it gives to its children, and cultures, especially during conservative times such as ours, are notoriously resistant in changing their outlook on such matters.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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