What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is a term coined by Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist, in the late-1900s. The term refers to the differences in how the brains functions and to the brain variations regarding learning, sociability, mood, attention, among other mental functions. Furthermore, Neurodiversity views brain differences as normal, and celebrates them.The concept was also popularized by the journalist Harvey Blume.
Neurodiversity is a political term that refers to the fact that no two human minds are exactly alike and uses it to name a paradigm for social change. Judy’s idea was to create a movement that shapes an identity for the neurological minorities.
As Judy states, Neurodiversity is built on the idea that just as conserving biodiversity is necessary for a sustainable, flourishing planet, so respecting Neurodiversity is necessary for a sustainable, flourishing human society.
Here are some definitions, opinions, and conversations you may want to check:
- In this Stanford Neurodiversity Summit 2020 presentation, Judy Singer, talks about her findings and her journey as an autistic woman. You can watch it here. For Judy, the Neurologically Different represents a new addition to the familiar political categories of class, gender, and race and will augment the Social Model of Disability insights.
- In 2020 Judy updated her concept of Neurodiversity to emphasize its place within biodiversity. In this blog, she built on her original idea and talked about the movement, the dark side of the movement, among other concepts and ideas. Read it here.
- In this article, John Elder Robinson talks about the many different meanings people give to Neurodiversity and his definition and experience. Here is the article.
- The concept of Neurodiversity is dividing the autism community, but it doesn’t have to. Here is an article that explores this matter by Simon Baron-Cohen, Autism Research Center director at the University of Cambridge, UK, and president of the International Society for Autism Research. Read it here.
- In this publication, Disabled World talks about the definitions of Neurodiversity, Neurodivergent, and Neurotypical. And offer further resources and points of view of the concept. Here is the publication.
Neurodiversity is a very controversial concept, there are different opinions and sentiments around the movement, but we want to close with this quote from Simon Baron-Cohen:
“What is attractive about the neurodiversity model is that it doesn’t pathologize and focus disproportionately on what the person struggles with, and instead takes a more balanced view, to give equal attention to what the person can do. In addition, it recognizes that genetic or other kinds of biological variation are intrinsic to people’s identity, their sense of self, and personhood, which should be given equal respect alongside any other form of diversity, such as gender. But to encompass the breadth of the autism spectrum, we need to make space for the medical model too.”