Big idea: Neurodiversity

At the Soulard Idea Market a couple of weeks ago, one of the topics that Matt Homann provided for the idea speed dating part of the evening was, “What is the most compelling idea you’ve heard in the last year?” With all that has gone on in the last year, it seemed that this would be a daunting question to answer – much less have a meaningful discussion about – in just two minutes.

But after just a little thought, I realized that my answer to this question was actually very easy to determine. In fact, it was almost exactly a year ago when I first came across (or at least paid attention to) the idea, which can be expressed in a single word: Neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity is a concept that atypical (neurodivergent) neurological wiring is a normal human difference that is to be tolerated and respected as any other human difference. The concept of neurodiversity was created by some autistic individuals and people with related conditions, who believe that autism is not a disorder, but a part of who they are, and that curing autistic people would be the same as destroying their original personalities and replacing them with different people.

In other words, maybe Autism does not need to be cured. Needless to say, this is a controversial point of view, not the least among physicians and parents of autistic children.

In keeping with the concept of idea speed dating, I’m going to keep this post short. I leave it to the reader to pursue as much as you will. But be careful, this rabbit hole goes deep and will take you places you could never imagine.

Suggested reading to learn more about neurodiversity: – honoring the variety of human wiring

Autism Hub – A collection of members who are autistic, or who are parents of autistic people, or are scientists/professionals involved in autism research.

For a well-reasoned counterpoint to neurodiversity, from the father of an autistic child, check out Wade Rankin’s Injecting Sense.

One thought on “Big idea: Neurodiversity

  1. Brett,

    I just wanted to chime in with how fascinating I regard the idea of neurodiversity. That’s what I love about the 21st century: we’ve got front row seats (with popcorn and Skittles) to some REALLY great debates in the fields of science and social order.


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