Monday, June 11, 2007

Neurodiversity headache

I have an opportunity to present information about Neurodiversity at a mainstream autism conference next week. No, I won't be speaking there, but the conference coordinator has agreed to let me have a table at the Provider Expo. I'll have information there about a study I'm doing on university students and Asperger syndrome, and also some neurodiversity handouts.
This is really good news, as it will be a chance to reach both parents and professionals who work with autistic people and spread the idea of autism as a social construct and maybe raise a little bit of awareness that there are many of us who don't want to be changed or "cured".
It's also become a major headache to me, as I now realize I don't myself know what the word "neurodiversity" means anymore, and maybe I never did. I made the brochures up before the recent round of discussions, which is good in a way, since I think I would be at a loss to write a concise and coherent definition today.
I now have 200 copies of a handout which seems quite inadequate. I am asking for input here.
As it is now, the brochure contains:
1. A quote on neurodiversity from Mike Stanton (paragraph 3 here)
2. A quote on neurodiversity from Ventura33 (first 2 sentences here)
3. Excerpts from ANI philosophy statement regarding autistic self-advocacy and worth
5. Resource list with links to, , ANI, Autism Hub
(all sources properly credited!)
This is for an autism specific conference. I am thinking of adding an insert regarding a broader definition for ND, as opposed to Autistic Civil Rights.
This is my attempt to work at the local level, and I don't want to screw it up by inadvertently using terms which might cause contention among us. Hub bloggers, and other autism and neurodiverse activists of all stripes, please let me know what you would like to see added or subtracted. I appreciate your help, and only wish I'd thought of asking for it earlier.


  1. A big point that has been missed in this whole debate is why the concept matters at all.

    It is fine on the one hand to say that neurodiversity simply expresses the variability of human neurology, but it has to be realised that the concept would not have come about if people with particular neurological subtypes did not appear in the minority from the perspective of a bell curve of more typical or converging neurotypes.

    These divergences have led to prejudice, segregation, discrimination and much more. This is why the struggle is centrally located within the divergent sector and not the well meaning but ultimately ignorant typical majority.

    It is fine for them to say "we will be your allies" "you need us" but what they are saying in reality is "we will be your allies only when you agree with us and behave according to our stereotypes and paradigms" and worse than that the hidden signifier within the second message is "you are too weak and stupid without us"

    Yes these are allies we can do without, and indeed in there hopelessly muddy definitions of what is best for us, and how important they are, they actually are of no more help to us than our enemies (indeed an obvious foe can be our best friend when their hostility is so rampantly obvious as to condemn their case out of hand) On the other hand the luke warm assertions of those who say they want to be our allies, but come uninvited to the fray mean that they are our most dangerous enemies for they distort the clarity and purity of what we need to overthrow, and that is the mindset they are coming from and are exemplars of.

  2. Anon,
    Paragraph 1-3 make perfect sense to me. As for the rest, I can certainly agree in theory that the attitudes you describe are dangerous, unwanted and unneeded.

    But I don't know who these people are to whom you refer. I know of many who claim to be "helping" autistics while actually harming.

    The people I see as allies are those who listen to, respect and support autistic adults, those who are willing to help with the "grunt work" and point out our existence and our writings to the uninitiated. Anyone pushing another agenda is not in the category I would define as "allies".

  3. What about Michael John Carley and GRASP's recent association with Alison Tepper and Autism Speaks, looks like the Munich agreement to me.

  4. So, you're experiencing neurodiversity headache? Perhaps you should take choline bitrate or try chelation or exorcism or... ...never mind. xD


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