What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is the belief that the brain is not necessarily abnormal or damaged but rather different, presenting with alternate neurological wirings. These neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. This applies to conditions such as Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourette Syndrome and other diagnoses. Advocates celebrate varied forms of communication and self-expression and promote supporting systems that allow for individuals with differences to live freely and proudly because of their very differences. Adopting a neurodiverse lens moves away from the focus on the weaknesses of an individual and towards their strengths and abilities.
There are many definitions of neurodiversity. Here is how one self-advocate, Patrick Dwyer defines it:
“There is no single, perfect ideal of what a human mind or brain should be: that, on the contrary, the existence of diversity of minds and brains is necessary for human societies to flourish.
Autistic and other neurodivergent people should be accepted for who they are, and that making neurodivergent people more ‘normal’ should never be pursued as an end in itself.
The challenges and barriers faced by neurodivergent people cannot be solely attributed to internal differences or ‘deficits,’ but that these challenges can reflect problems in the ways that human societies interact with neurodivergent people.”
Identity-first language vs. Person-first language?
Those that prefer identity-first language believe that autistic individuals present with human variation of difference, not necessarily a disability. Rather, autism is viewed as a condition that cannot be separated from the person. Their autism is an inherent part of their cultural identity; it is what defines them.
Those that prefer person-first language see the person as a whole before their disability. Many believe that their autism is only a part of them.
My child is non-verbal or non-communicative. May I say words for them?
While we greatly support and recognize the hard work of parents/caregivers, this is a space where we want to hear from the individual. IOA encourages self-identification in whatever form works best for that person. Family members are encouraged to use terminology that represents their experience as an autism family only.
Can I express my identity visually without the use of any words?