Neurodiversity – It means everyone

There’s a newish piece in Pacific Standard, a magazine for which I write, that criticizes the neurodiversity movement as being focused on a tiny group of super high functioning autistic folks. You can read it here. 

“The Autistic Academic” blog has written an excellent response. You can read it here. Please link to other responses in the comments!

A key quote [emphasis author’s]:

Like every other anti-neurodiversity-movement piece I have read to date, this one gets the fundamentals of the neurodiversity movement very, very wrong. So wrong that it doesn’t even function as a rebuttal of the neurodiversity movement – it functions as a rebuttal of a straw movement inside the author’s head. This article is Gwendolyn Kansen talking to Gwendolyn Kansen.

Here’s what I mean.

“First off,” Kansen writes, “many of us aren’t high-functioning enough to benefit from depathologizing autism. The neurodiversity movement doesn’t have much to say about lower-functioning autistics, who are decidedly less inspirational.”

I’m not going to ask what Kansen intends to mean by “high-functioning.” The neurodiversity movement has exactly the same thing to say about “less inspirational” autistics that it has to say about “more inspirational” ones: Autistic people are human beings who deserve to have their full set of human rights respected.

The piece effectively moves through Kansen’s claims and keeps just repeating the refrain – human beings, human rights

Anti-neurodiversity rhetoric tends to say that it only serves a small segment of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. This is entirely wrong. The fundamentals of the neurodiversity movement focuses on universalities and breaking the high/low functioning discourse.

As always, please click over and read the whole thing.

Leave a Reply