Tuesday 6 March 2018

ARCHIVED: "What does Neurodiversity mean?, v1.0 ", original version

This is the original version of my "What is Neurodiversity" Page
Republishing it here (backdated) as may be of interested to scholars. 
Click here for the latest version

What does Neurodiversity mean: v1

Diversity is a property of populations within habitats and cannot be applied to individuals. You cannot talk about a diverse animal, but you can talk about a habitat that is a home to diverse species

Biodiversity is a property of life on our planet

Neurodiversity is the subset of biodiversity which properly encompasses all beings with a nervous system, but in current usage refers only to humans.

My concept of neurodiversity was based on a generally accepted principle of biodiversity: that the most stable environments are those that are most diverse and that every species is of intrinsic value and has a necessary part to play in the whole

Neurodiversity is simply an undeniable fact about our planet. 
It is not something you can be “for” or “against”!

Neurodiversity has nothing to the say about good versus bad.

It does not classify people.

Nor does it imply that it is good or bad to group and classify people.

That is a job for culture, for the evolution of law, medicine, art, philosophy, literature etc ... Enough said.

A Neurodiversity Movement as I imagined it 
... was not to be confined to Autism.

It was to be an umbrella movement for any "neurotribes" who had been stigmatized for having kinds of mind-bodies that were different from the largely imaginary normal

I saw that the idea that "every species has value and right to exist" could be used to legitimate a civil rights movement for neurological minorities, because it linked their claims for inclusion and acceptance to an indisputable necessity - that of conserving the diversity of the human species

The Neurodiversity Movement now

There is no "official" Neurodiversity Movement. There is no central authority that defines its meaning.

The "movement" is really a discourse: its meaning continually evolves out of the locus of everything that is said and done about it, whether for or against.

Some people speak as if they were representative of it. But no one elected them or nominated them.

Meanwhile others who disagree with their voices turn against the very idea of Neurodiversity and rage against this imaginary  "Neurodiversity Movement" and its imagined followers.

The reality is that whether you are "For" or "Against" Neurodiversity, you ARE the movement as long as you keep mentioning it.

It will continue to evolve according to the social forces around it.

As I have said before - it seemed to me that it the concept was already "out there" in the Zeitgeist. I happened to be situated at the locus of biological/genetic, historical and geographical forces it "landed" on.

People with Neurodiversity

I notice with some disquiet that the phrase "People With Neurodiversity" is creeping into the language.

This is a misunderstanding and misuse of the term. It turns neurodiversity into a synonym for disability. If used in this way, ND will quickly inherit all the stigma of disability from the old Medical Model.

 ... the term “Neurodiversity” must be kept as an overarching principle 
to uphold the necessity and value of neurological minorities

This is not to deny the immense treasure that is medical science. On the contrary it is to balance the problem focus of the medical view with a sociological view that allows neurological minorities, their families and advocates - in situations when they cannot speak for themselves - more scope for self-definition

Neurodiverse or Neurodivergent?

Similarly "neurodiverse" is creeping into the language as an adjective for "disabled"

Neurodiverse as an adjective doesn't make sense, since it can only be applied to the planet as a whole. You cannot single out a neurodiverse continent, nation, city, let alone an individual.

But an individual can diverge from the neurological ideal, which is mistakenly considered to be a norm, and which varies from culture to culture. Some cultures idealize introversion. Ours puts a premium on extroversion. The obvious example: in the West, we think "Good eye-contact" is a sign of character. Other cultures believe eyeballing another is invasive, disrespectful, and controlling. 

Respect for human diversity

Until recently, the sanctity of all human life in our culture was underpinned, however imperfectly, by Judaeo-Christian belief in divine command.

With belief in divine authority waning, we need a convincing new argument for the sanctity of all human lives to counter the inhuman and reductionist logic of economic rationalism which forever teeters over an eugenic abyss

Perhaps the idea of respect for diversity as the foundation of the stability 
of our floating global home provides that argumen