200th Post! Why is Neurodiversity Useful?
|Source: Cafe Press
ASD is traditionally defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a person’s social and communicative style and includes frequent displays of specific behavioral patterns. There is a huge range of autistic expression, from significantly impaired to subtle displays of autistic characteristics. As the Neuroethics Scholar at Emory’s Center for Ethics, I am working on a project at the Marcus Autism Center exploring how to communicate the results of future infant screeners for ASD to parents. This project was described in The Neuroethics Blog on October 1, 2013. A neurodiverse perspective informs my work in two important ways: shaping the language I use to talk about ASD and ensuring I maintain a focus on the quality of life for ASD individuals and their families. I believe that neurodiversity can be similarly important for all professionals working with and studying ASD or related disabilities.
In American civil rights movements, there has always been a linguistic focus—people pay attention to the ways individuals with different racial, gender, sexual, and ethnic identities are labeled and described. This language changes over time, becoming more appropriate and representative. The disability rights movement also works to change the way disability is spoken about. Neurodiversity is a part of this movement, and so advocates are thinking about and promoting respectful ways to talk about ASD and related disabilities. As a whole, the disability community argues for the use of a language of difference, not deficit. For ASD, this means saying individuals have different social interaction styles, rather than “deficits in social communication and social interaction,” or prefer adhering to a specific routine, rather than “inflexible adherence to routines.” The statements communicate the same thing, however the latter is linguistically demeaning and suggests autistic people are broken or somehow less than those who are not autistic.
1. Armstrong, Thomas. (2010) Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences. Cambridge: Da Capo Press.
Want to Cite This Post?
Sarrett, J. (2013). Why is Neurodiversity Useful? The Neuroethics Blog. Retrieved on
, from http://www.theneuroethicsblog.com/2013/12/why-is-neurodiversity-useful.html