THE NEURODIVERSITY MOVEMENT

by Irina Hentea

Pondering over the importance of social movements I think I found a very motivating reason for why every once in a while we should read/write/get involved with what social movements do for society: they bring about CHANGE. Or they make us consider changing hard wired beliefs and practices.

 It is now common knowledge that the human brain is resistant to change. This happens because the brain consumes a lot less energy by simply sticking to the already formed neural circuits. And yet, beyond our biological determination, we can form new patterns which as an output for our discussion here, means we can build up new social meanings for let’s say… the word disease. There is a social movement that tries to achieve that; such a movement is the Neurodiversity Movement, which is thought to have started with a speech made by Jim Sinclair at the 1993 International Conference on Autism at Toronto[1] encouraged by an existing need for recognition and respect towards a social category that ought to have been viewed as diverse as opposed to pathological, or “not normal”.

Neurodiversity is an online self-advocacy disability rights movement which is primarily promoted by the Autistic Self-Advocate Community among others. The core statement for advocacy in this movement’s case starts from the belief that neurological differences are nothing other than “authentic forms of human diversity, self expression and being” encouraging an outlook over disease as a natural human variation form. 

Image

 Researchers Andrew Fenton and Tim Krahn propose the main objectives that would provide roots to the movement in their 2007 article “Autism, Neurodiversity and Equality Beyond the ‘Normal”:

  • Acknowledging that Neurodiversity does not require a cure
  • Changing the language from the current “condition, disease, disorder, or illness”-based nomenclature
  • “Broaden the understanding of healthy or independent living”; acknowledging new types of autonomy
  • Giving neurodiverse individuals more control over their treatment, including the type, timing, and whether there should be treatment at all.[2]

 In order to understand Neurodiversity, we must carefully look at the complex aspects of many disorders that are not “neuro-typical”. The coining of the term as well as this approach toward mental disorders is facing controversy in the context of many specialists raising questions about how neurodiversity should be used. Until clear, unilateral acceptance there is still some time to pass, but the important thing is that advocates are trying to provide a better environment for those experiencing the world differently than the accepted norm. [3]

Image sourcehttp://www.theneuroethicsblog.com/2012/12/neurodiversity-and-autism-where-do-we.html

[1] http://radicalpsychology.org/vol7-1/boundy.html

[2]  Fenton, A, Krahn T, Autism, Neurodiversity and Equality Beyond the Normal, Journal of Ethics in Mental Health PDF; Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurodiversity#cite_note-article-6

[3] Kathyrn Boundy, An Exploration Of The Neurodiversity Movement, Radical Psychology, 2008, Retrieved from  http://radicalpsychology.org/vol7-1/boundy.html 

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