Autism and the Neurodiversity Paradigm
Clinical Update July 2015
By Zur Institute
The neurodiversity paradigm is a new and different way of looking at Autism and other human neurocognitive variations. This paradigm frames neurological diversity as being similar to gender or ethnic diversity.
The same challenges arise around neurodiversity that arise around other types of diversity, and making real connections with autistic clients requires the same open-minded humility that we bring to cross-cultural communication.
The neurodiversity approach to Autism offers a critique of the mainstream professional and academic discourse on Autism which views Autism as a set of deficits, framing many aspects of Autism as pathological.
Did you know…?
- Over the past three decades, Autistic people have formed their own communities, culture, and civil rights movement.
- A growing number of parents and professionals are gaining better understanding of Autistic children by listening to the insights of Autistic adults.
- Despite media and experts’ claims about an “Autism epidemic,” most evidence suggests that the rates of Autism in the human population haven’t been changing significantly – it’s just awareness and diagnoses of Autism that are increasing.
- Autistic people have complex sensory experiences and ways of thinking that are quite different from those of non-autistic people.
- Many Autistic people who can’t speak and who have been dismissed as lacking awareness have eventually learned to communicate through typing, and some have written extensively about their experiences or become outspoken activists for Autistic civil rights.
- Contrary to common beliefs, empathy, self-reflection, love, joy, creativity, and humor are all part of the Autistic experience.
The neurodiversity paradigm…
- does not view Autism as an illness.
- is different than the pathologizing-DSM approach to Autism.
- claims that there’s no scientific basis for calling Autism a disorder.
- offers an alternative to the main approach of Behavior Therapy as a Treatment for Autism.
- claims that behaviorist “therapies” to which many Autistic children are subjected, can be harmful.