Big Idea to Explore
On this page I explore the beliefs of the Neurodiversity movement, the facts about Neurodiversity, and how it contends what is expounded by ableist belief systems
Excerpt from Don't Mourn For Us, Jim Sinclair
"Autism is not an appendage
Autism isn't something a person has, or a "shell" that a person is trapped inside. There's no normal child hidden behind the autism.
Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colors every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter, every aspect of existence.
It is not possible to separate the autism from the person--and if it were possible, the person you'd have left would not be the same person you started with.
This is important, so take a moment to consider it:
Autism is a way of being. It is not possible to separate the person from the autism.
Therefore, when parents say,
I wish my child did not have autism, what they're really saying is, I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead. Read that again.
This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure. This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces."
Autism Network International
Page 1: Don't Mourn For Us
Page 4: Don't Mourn For Us
Autism Network International
Neurodiversity & Ableism: Lived Experiences
"Variation in the human brain is part of the human experience" Amythest Schaber
As part of her YouTube channel , Ask An Autistic, she answers questions about issues that are deeply connected to autism.
Jim Sinclair's powerful manifesto, Don't Mourn For Us offers a deeply insightful understanding of neurodiversity and the implications of denying it. He is the first disability rights activist who challenged the main stream ideology of 'normalcy' by advocating for neurodiversity and its value.
Neurodiversity & Ableism:
POV SEASON 26
FEATURE FILM | 07/29/2013 | 60 MINS
Neurotypical is an unprecedented exploration of autism from the point of view of autistic people themselves. Four-year-old Violet, teenaged Nicholas and adult Paula occupy different positions on the autism spectrum, but they are all at pivotal moments in their lives. How they and the people around them work out their perceptual and behavioral differences becomes a remarkable reflection of the “neurotypical” world — the world of the non-autistic — revealing inventive adaptations on each side and an emerging critique of both what it means to be normal and what it means to be human.
"Those with autism are not somehow inevitably 'other', or fundamentally separated from those without the condition, and there is much to know and learn by thinking about the connections between the various versions of humanity to which autism provides a lens. (Murray, 2012, p36)."
This acceptance of neurodiversity in combination with the acceptance that we don't know much, is a most critical idea around autism.
Kathleen Miller's quote as presented the home page of this resource, was from an article in the AMA Journal of Ethics from 2015. She speaks of the 'devastation' for families and the need for 'treatment' for autistic people. Both these ideas are antithetical to the idea of neurodiversity which offers a different perspective.
Jim Sinclair's manifesto below addresses the 'devastation' and is a bold and critical reminder that beyond the clinical, exists the human.
A PBS POV Neurotypical, speaks to idea of how irrelevant and even offensive, the treatment idea sounds when autism is viewed as a lived experience.
The articles on Neuroclastic: The Autism Spectrum According To Autisitic People, a website dedicated to bringing lived experiences forward, are enlightening and invite critical thought and analysis. If there was any doubt as to the importance of understanding neurodiversity and rejecting ableism, note that the site presents articles about labeling functionality and neurodiversity under the label of Injustice.
Thinking about the human brain and humanness in terms of 'able or dis/abled' ; 'normal or abnormal'; 'high or low functioning' is limiting, and does not allow for us to be flexible as we explore more about how each of us bring value to our communities and the world. There has and will always be variations in neurotypes.
Neurotypical vs. Neurodivergent/Neuroatypical/Neurominority
Here are some specific misconceptions that are addressed specifically in the What is Neurodiversity? video by Amythest Schaber in the resources below.
- Neurodiversity as a movement does not support or allow for interventions: This is a myth because we all need supports, but the goal for the movement isn't elimination supports or treatments for ailments that exist alongside autism. The movement is against the the idea of trying to force autistic people to acting 'normal' or neurotypical.
- Neurodiversity does not support having a diagnosis: A myth because the movement does not deny the need for diagnosis and the supports it can bring.
The medical model perspective of autism has been based in deficit and with efforts to 'cure'/'treat', and placed the responsibility on the individual. The social model perceives autism as a typical human variation and just as valuable. The neurodiversity movement rose from this model and comes to the fore through the lived experiences of autistic people.