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The Future of Neurodiversity

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I'm afraid I don't have the gift of clairvoyance. When I look into my crystal ball, I see through the glass  darkly, very darkly.  And even more so in these times. Now pandemic, global warming, the rise of populism and the decline of what we called "Western Civilization", in all its horror and glory,  point to a future of socio-economic upheaval and uncertainty. History teaches us that in such times the dominant majority, and those who indentify with it, will turn against minorities and seek to eliminate them.  The best advice in such times is to expect the best, but prepare for the worst.  It will require courage to stand up for minorities - not just our own, but that of others, because divided we must beg but  united we can bargain.  And it will require us to work together. By "work" I'm not just referring to "paid work" though it is good to have if you can get it. But I will venture a prediction that paid work will be harder to get for mor

Neurodiversity: It's politics, not science!

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... or ... It's the name of a social justice movement, not a diagnosis You may have heard critics of the Neurodiversity paradigm dismiss it with "It's not even scientific" or "It's pseudoscience".  Of course it isn’t. It's not meant to be.  Neurodiversity simply names a biological truism , a self-evident fact that adds nothing to what we already know about the world.  You don't need a cross-disciplinary PhD in a brace of "~ologies" to figure out that every human brain on the planet is as unique as each fingerprint. It follows that there is a virtually infinite diversity of humans on the planet, with infinitely diverse minds complexified further by experience in equally diverse bodies.  A scientific investigation of Neurodiversity would have to find two individuals on the planet whose minds are exactly alike. Identical twins? As soon as one infant looks to the left and sees something that the other doesn't, their minds being to dive

Volunteering on Boards: Empowerment or exploitation?

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It's always an honour to be asked by an organization to become a Board member or Advisory Panel member to be "a voice" with "lived experience". And it is indeed empowering to meet with powerful people and get an insight into how decisions are made "at the top". But after a while you begin to wonder. I volunteered on Boards for decades. It began when I became the sole parent of an autistic child. Most carers find it impossible to retain their careers so many turn to volunteering in order to remain useful members of society. Initially I found volunteering to be stimulating and empowering until I began to wonder if I was allowing myself to be taken for granted and exploited.  Bottom line, I now find myself to be an age pensioner who cannot even afford my medical bills.  They like to say "Time is Money" in business. But it's your time, their money.  Now that's a wake-up call. Don't end up like me at retirement!  Think of the metaphor

Taster: Explaining Neurodiversity

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I am generally credited with being the originator of the term  Neurodiversity  while writing a sociology honours thesis," Odd People In : a personal exploration of a new social movement based on neurological diversity " (UTS Sydney 1998).  I did not define the term, thinking its meaning self-evident. Since then there have been a proliferation of definitions, and as I expected, most people intuitively "get it".  But inevitably, some definitions seem to me to miss the point, especially when they take neurodiversity to be a synonym for "neurological disability".  While I understand that language evolves and changes, I am determined to defend my intuitive understanding of the term vigourously, and have thus unpacked the complex meaning furled within it.  To read my definition, click on the " What is Neurodiversity " tab above, or here Contents What Neurodiversity is What Neurodiversity is not What the Neurodiversity Movement is Fundamental Principle

Carry On Regardless!

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Am I the only one who can spend more time agonizing about what kind of “regards” to send in a business letter than on writing the whole damn letter? I’ve had enough, I just can’t take it anymore, I. AM. NOT. DOING. IT. ANY. MORE! Life is too short! One of my autistic traits is that I am ALWAYS sincere. (Well, almost always, unless I have been taught to fake it for the sake of self-preservation in a dog-eat-dog world business world, where duplicity is the norm, and actual sincerity is viewed with suspicion). In this world, I understand the Regards Hierarchy thus: Kind regards Opening gambit: we haven’t met yet, so let’s be civilized, and let me assure you that I don’t intend to rip you off, while keeping you at a polite distance Warm regards The next round: We still haven't met, but let’s pretend we are practically bosom buddies Just plain unqualified Regards Uh-oh! [ Regards omitted] We have engaged the services of a Debt Collection Agency I CAN’T DO THIS! I do not kno

What is wrong with this Wikipedia definition of Neurodiversity?

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This is a typical definition of Neurodiversity found at random on the web. There are innumberable such, all referring to "normal" variations.  First, it's important to be wary of the "passive voice" which confers authority by fudging who is speaking. If there is an omitted "by" in the sentence , it's worth asking "by whom". So...  Regarded by whom? I submit: by an echo chamber of Wiki editors rephrasing earlier Wiki editors. In true viral mode, these definitions  were then adopted by myriad respectable institutions and replicated ad infinitum.  Who can blame them? Nobody owns the term. I never defined it either, thinking its meaning self-evident. Nevertheless I will put my oar in based on the intuitive Aha! moment I had while writing the work that contained it. And for goodness sake, do NOT go to Wikipedia for a definition of Neurodiversity . It seems to be changed almost daily by heaven knows who, and it is clear that most of these pe

We are not "The" Vulnerable: the dangers of the definite article

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Before you talk of "The Vulnerable", ask yourself by what means a significant proportion of the populace is rendered vulnerable Summary I propose that the term "The Vulnerable" is a depoliticized euphemism for people who require social security support due to structural injustice as much as to inherent disability I further argue that applying the definite article "The" to minorities is a powerful method of othering them While some of us may be inherently vulnerable due to heredity, injury, or life stage, as soon as we require government supports and services, this linguistic sleight of hand subtly strips us of our strengths, our agency, our capacity for choice, and our status as citizens Thus reduced to the faceless"Other", we do indeed become vulnerable to stereotype, stigma, pity, and finally compassion fatigue And when compassion for minorities is exhausted, all of us become vulnerable to being divided and ruled by the worst of populis

Are these common socio-political terms doing more harm than good?

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  Are these prominent taken-for-granted terms in the medical and sociological lexicon doing more harm than good?  I've often wondered. I realise my chances  chances of shifting these entrenched concepts are slim, but I offer up these ruminations as  food for thought.   A s always I  recognize that language evolves and my objections may not resonate especially with younger generations.  Assess, assessment, assessor  Dementia   Race The  Vulnerable   Welfare A list of specific arguments and alternatives for these individual term  here Most of us use these words with the best of intentions of promoting health, wellbeing, and social justice. But I see these words as problematic for a variety of reasons. Including that some breathe life into outdated and pernicious con

Covid Days: Minimizing friction in close quarters

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My daughter and I had "The Big Covid 19 Discussion" about how we were going to manage an indefinite period of isolation in close quarters together. We came up with this list which she has transcribed for anyone who is interested. Most importantly, let's realise it will be impossible to avoid friction entirely, however we can take steps to keep it to a minimum. Remember that the other person is not a mind reader – if you aren’t sure what the other means, ask politely. If there is a misunderstanding, don’t apportion blame, just work it out between yourselves. If the other person appears irritable, take a moment to recognise that it may not be about you. Take a moment before responding – this is IMPORTANT! Remember, we are not multi-taskers!!! One instruction at a time, otherwise it is confusing and stressful. If someone is engaged in a task, realise they may need time to finish that task before moving on to the next thing. Words/phrases to avoid: “We

Warpies and Wefties of the World, Unite!

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Everybody knows that there are just  two kinds  of  people in the world, right?  But what are they exactly? I submit ... Warpies and Wefties Yes, it is one of those absurd, over-generalised binaries. But bear with me, because you will find that these are binary opposites that unite us rather than divide us. Thus I submit that they are a great metaphor for building harmony between Neurotribes whilst avoiding medicalised jargon. I base my argument on  The Art of W e a v i n g   (as Social Metaphor)  "Warp" and "Weft" are of course names for the diametrically opposite threads which, when interwoven, create infinite varieties of fabrics Weaving is arguably humanity's oldest technology, one that combines Art and Usefulness. And one generally associated with the Feminine, which doubly appeals to me. And thus Weaving might just be both an adaptable, and enduring, metaphor for creating harmony in these fractured times But before I extend the metaphor