The Concept of Neurodiversity Is Dividing the Autism Community – Scientific American Blog Network

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The Concept of Neurodiversity Is Dividing the Autism Community

It remains controversial—but it doesn’t have to be

A teenager in a French autism education institute. Credit: Getty Images


At the annual meeting of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) in Montreal, Canada in May, one topic widely debated was the concept of neurodiversity. It is dividing the autism community, but it doesn’t have to.

The term “neurodiversity” gained popular currency in recent years but was first used by Judy Singer, an Australian social scientist, herself autistic, and first appeared in print in the Atlantic in 1998.

Neurodiversity is related to the more familiar concept of biodiversity, and both are respectful ways of thinking about our planet and our communities. The notion of neurodiversity is very compatible with the civil rights plea for minorities to be accorded dignity and acceptance, and not to be pathologized. And while the neurodiversity movement acknowledges that parents or autistic people may choose to try different interventions for specific symptoms that may be causing suffering, it [...]

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