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Neurodiversity is an approach to learning and mental health that argues diverse neurological conditions are the result of normal variations in the human genome. This portmanteau of neurological and diversity originated in the late 1990s as a challenge to prevailing views of neurological diversity as inherently pathological, instead asserting that neurological differences should be recognized and respected as a social category on par with gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability status.

There is a neurodiversity movement, which is an international civil rights movement that has the autism rights movement as its most influential submovement. Citing the classic legal maxim, “Nothing About Us Without Us”, the movement promotes self-advocacy of its members. Neurodiversity advocates promote support systems (such as inclusion-focused services, accommodations, communication and assistive technologies, occupational training, and independent living support) that allow those who are “non-neurotypical” to live their lives as they are, rather than being coerced or forced to adopt uncritically accepted ideas of normality, or to conform to a clinical ideal. Challenging pervasive social norms and stigmas, it frames autism, dyslexia, and other neurotypes as a natural human variation rather than a pathology or disorder, and rejects the idea that neurological differences need to be (or can be) cured, as they believe them to be authentic forms of human diversity, self-expression, and being.

According to the 2011 National Symposium on Neurodiversity held at Syracuse University, neurodiversity is:

… a concept where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. These differences can include those labeled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others.

According to Pier Jaarsma in 2011, neurodiversity is a “controversial concept” that “regards atypical neurological development as a normal human difference”.

Nick Walker argued in 2012 that there is no such thing as a “neurodiverse individual”, because the concept of neurodiversity encompasses all people of every neurological status, and that all people are neurodiverse. Walker instead proposes the term neurominority as “a good, non-pathologizing word for referring to all people who aren’t neurotypical.” He says that people with other neurological styles are “marginalized and poorly accommodated by the dominant culture”. Walker proposes making a distinction between neurodiversity as an overarching concept, and the neurodiversity paradigm, or “the understanding of neurodiversity as a natural form of human diversity subject to the same societal dynamics as other forms of diversity”, which is contrasted to the pathology paradigm of representing neurominorities as problematic and pathological solely due to their deviance from the neurotypical majority.


Autism rights or neurodiversity advocates believe that the autism spectrum is genetic and should be accepted as a natural expression of the human genome.

This perspective is distinct from two other likewise distinct views: the mainstream perspective that autism is caused by a genetic defect and should be addressed by targeting the genes that cause autism; and the perspective that autism is caused by environmental factors and could be cured by addressing environmental causes.

Many autistic supporters of autism rights describe themselves through words that emphasize the condition as an intrinsic part of their identity, such as “autistic”, or “aspie” 

Members of the various autism rights organizations view autism as a way of life rather than as a disease and thus advocate acceptance over a search for a cure.

or perhaps.. autistics as a means to cure us all ie: higashida autism law


adding page this day:

Joi Ito (@Joi) tweeted at 4:17 AM – 7 Sep 2018 :

A lot of this article was inspired by a conversation with @davemorin who is working on technologies and designs to help mental health with neurodiversity as a core value(

also adding Dave Morin

“Neurotypical” is a term used by the autism community to describe what society refers to as “normal.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 59 children, and one in 34 boys, are on the autism spectrum—in other words, neuroatypical. That’s 3 percent of the male population. If you add ADHD—attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—and dyslexia, roughly one out of four people are not “neurotypicals.”

In NeuroTribes, Steve Silberman chronicles the history of such non-neurotypical conditions

on hold at library

also adding nuerodiversity and dave morin

including autism, which was described by the Viennese doctor Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner in Baltimore in the 1930s and 1940s. Asperger worked in Nazi-occupied Vienna, which was actively euthanizing institutionalized children, and he defined a broad spectrum of children who were socially awkward. Others had extraordinary abilities and a “fascination with rules, laws and schedules,” to use Silberman’s words.

maté trauma law

Kanner, on the other hand, described children who were more disabled. Kanner’s suggestion that the condition was activated by bad parenting made autism a source of stigma for parents and led to decades of work attempting to “cure” autism rather than developing ways for families, the educational system, and society to adapt to it.

autrism et al

higashida autism law:

i think that people w autism are born outside the regime of civilization. i think that as a result of all the killings in the world and the selfish planet wrecking .. a deep sense of crisis exists.. autism has somehow arisen out of this..  we are like travelers from the distant past.. and if , by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the earth that would give us a quiet pleasure.


maté not yet scrambled law

Our schools in particular have failed such neurodiverse students, *in part because they’ve been designed to prepare our children for typical jobs in a mass-production-based white- and blue-collar environment created by the Industrial Revolution.

perhaps *in total because they’ve been designed to prep w supposed to’s

I think that even the broad notion of education may be outdated, and *we need a completely new approach to empower learning: We need to revamp our notion of “education” and shake loose the ordered and linear metrics of the society of the past, when we were focused on scale and the mass production of stuff. Accepting and respecting neurodiversity is the key to surviving the transformation driven by the internet and AI, which is shattering the Newtonian predictability of the past and replacing it with a Heisenbergian world of complexity and uncertainty.

*ie: a nother way..

again.. higashida autism law

InLife, Animated, Ron Suskind tells the story of his autistic son Owen,

life animated.. ron.. owen

Owen’s story tells us how autism can manifest in different ways and how, if caregivers can adapt rather than force kids to “be normal,” many autistic children survive and thrive. Our institutions, however, are poorly designed to deliver individualized, adaptive programs to educate such kids

perhaps more important.. what they (everyone) has to help educate us ..again ie: higashida autism law

In addition to schools poorly designed for non-neurotypicals, our society traditionally has had scant tolerance or compassion for anyone lacking social skills or perceived as not “normal.”..t

lucas on not normal ness

higashida autism law:

i think that people w autism are born outside the regime of civilization. i think that as a result of all the killings in the world and the selfish planet wrecking .. a deep sense of crisis exists.. autism has somehow arisen out of this..  we are like travelers from the distant past.. and if , by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the earth that would give us a quiet pleasure.

Temple Grandin, the animal welfare advocate who is herself somewhere on the spectrum, contends that Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Mozart, and Nikola Tesla would have been diagnosed on the “autistic spectrum” if they were alive today. She also believes that autism has long contributed to human development and that “without autism traits we might still be living in caves.” She is a prominent spokesperson for the neurodiversity movement, which argues that neurological differences must be respected in the same way that diversity of gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation is.

temple.. eistein.. mozart via rhodes.. tesla

Ben Draper, who runs the Macomber Center for Self Directed Learning, says that while the center is designed for all types of children, kids whose parents identify them as on the autism spectrum often thrive at the center when they’ve had difficulty in conventional schools. Ben is part of the so-called unschooling movement, which believes that not only should learning be self-directed, in fact we shouldn’t even focus on guiding learning. Children will learn in the process of pursuing their passions, the reasoning goes, and so we just need to get out of their way, providing support as needed


Many, of course, argue that such an approach is much too unstructured and verges on irresponsibility. In retrospect, though, I feel I certainly would have thrived on “unschooling.” t

the problem isn’t that it’s unstructured.. it’s that not all of us are doing it.. and it needs to be all of us ie: meadows undisturbed ecosystem

In a recent paper, Ben and my colleague Andre Uhl, who first introduced me to unschooling, argue that it not only works for everyone, but that the current educational system, in addition to providing poor learning outcomes, impinges on the rights of children as individuals   t

indeed.. but so too does calling it out w/o a mech/alt in place.. ie: costello screen/service law

suggested mech: tech as it could be..  w 2 convers.. as infra

Not that anyone should generalize from my experience—one reader of my dissertation said that I’m so unusual, I should be considered a “human sub-species.” While I take that as a compliment, I think there are others like me..t.. who weren’t as lucky and ended up going through the traditional system and mostly suffering rather than flourishing.

that’s all of us.. and we can’t see it because we keep observing/researching ie: whales in sea world

We can also use modern technology for connected learning that supports diverse interests and abilities and is integrated into our lives and communities of interest.

true.. very thankful for that.. but today.. we can do better than that.. because/and.. it won’t really truly work until it’s all of us

At the Media Lab, we have a research group called Lifelong Kindergarten, and the head of the group, Mitchel Resnick, recently wrote a book by the same name.

mitch.. lifelong kinder

The group believes, as I do, that we learn best when we are pursuing our passion and working with others in a project-based environment with a playful approach.

imagine playing in the city.. as the day..

Many mental health issues, I believe, are caused by trying to “fix” some type of neurodiversity or by simply being insensitive or inappropriate for the person. Many mental “illnesses” can be “cured” by providing the appropriate interface to learning, living, or interacting for that person focusing on the four Ps. ..t

indeed.. what we need most .. what will be the roots of our healing.. is the energy of 7bn alive people


in neurotribes:


(sinclair had heard a speaker talk of mourning.. and submitted a talk – don’t mourn for us.. it was rejected .. saying grandin had submitted same).. he (sinclair) pointed out that if grief goes on too long, it transmits a dangerous message to the child: that they are inadequate as they are:

this is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. this is what we hear when  you pray for a cure. this is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.. – jim sinclair


attending the first autreat w her 6 yr old.. ‘it was immediately clear to me that elijah and i were involved in a grand experiment. i would walk where he wished to walk. i would play whatever games he wished to play for as long as he liked. i would lie around w him in our cabin for hours, listening to pinocchio. there were no other responsibilities’

spaces of permission w nothing to prove.. alongside ness


a new idea was brewing at events like autreat and in the myriad of autistic spaces taking root online. it turned out to be an idea as old as asprerger’s notion that people w the traits of his syndrome have always been part of the human community, standing apart,quietly making the world that mocks and shuns them a better place..

higashida autism law

late 1990s a student of antrhopoligy and sociology in australia named judy singer, who possesses may of htose trainsts herself, gave that idea a name: neurodiversity



harvey blume.. ‘neurological pluralism’.. he was first mainstream journalist to pick up on the significance of online communities for people w neurological differences. ‘the impact of the internet on autistics may one day be compared in magnitude to the spread of sign language among the deaf’ – blume

it was in these talks w blume she (singer) came up w term neurodiversity

singer explained to author andrew solomon in 2008.. ‘to do for neurologically diff people what feminism and gay rights had done for their constituents’..  her thesis: odd people in..



blume (1998): ‘neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial fo rth e human race as biodiversity is for life in general.. who can say what fomr of wiring will prove best at any given moment’…

in his view, it wasn’t just that more autistics were becoming visible in the world, but the world itself was becoming more autistic – and this was a good thing.. 

ie: 2004 – alex plank and dan grover launch wrong planet.. one of first autistic spaces on www…


plank’s personal heroes: einstein, him henson, miles davis..

on wrong planet.. grover: ‘the goal is to alleviate those w aspergers’ from this pressure that they need to conform .. what is best is to learn how to use your uniqueness to your advantage and find your place in the world..

really kicked off when interview w bram cohen – the autistic creator of bittorrent.. a p2p file sharing protocol estimated to account fora 1/3 of all internet traffic in the us.. new members poured in by the 1000s


could an aggregation of loners become a movement




neuroscience et al