Thursday, April 30, 2009

Neurodiversity Online

It seems like the word “Neurodiversity”, and the ideas of respect for autism rights that it represents, comes up more and more frequently online and in print. Yet, at the same time, I find that most of the individuals I meet, frequently parents of children with autism or Asperger’s, as well as adults who think they may be autistic or have Asperger’s, have never heard of the word neurodiversity. In this posting, I wanted to list some links to websites that deal with neurodiversity, so my readers can explore these ideas on their own.
The Oxford American Dictionary that came with my Mac, copyrighted in 2005, does not list the word “neurodiversity”. You’re going to need something more up-to-date. You could start with with WordSpy.com, “The Word Lover’s Guide to New Words.” This site defines neurodiversity as: “The variety of non-debilitating neurological behaviors and abilities exhibited by the human race.” Of more interest is that the site lists sample citations of the word, in the New York Times and Geocities, and the earliest citation of the word, in the Atlantic Monthly in 1998.
For a different, and somewhat more positive, definition, try Everything2.com  which defines neurodiversity as “The concept that variance in neurological structure adds needed diversity to the human race. The celebration of that diversity. Or, a word referring to the variety of ways in which the human brain can be wired.”
You can find a very inclusive listing of neurodiversity resources and websites at neurodiversity.com
For a frequently cited voice of the autism rights movement, go to ASAN. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, defines itself as:
 “.. a non-profit organization run by and for autistic people. ASAN's supporters include autistic adults and youth, those with other distinct neurological types and neurotypical family members, professionals, educators and friends. ASAN was created to provide support and services to individuals on the autism spectrum while working to change public perception and combat misinformation by educating communities about persons on the autism spectrum. Our activities include public policy advocacy, community engagement to encourage inclusion and respect for neurodiversity, quality of life oriented research and the development of autistic cultural activities and other opportunities for autistic people to engage with others on the spectrum.”
The founding president of ASAN, Ari Ne’eman is featured in the public service announcement, “No Myths”, along with other autistic individuals.
And, just this week, Salon.com published "I am not a puzzle, I am a person", by Elizabeth Svoboda regarding the “autism culture movement”.
The online resources are endless, and I’m sure I missed some very important ones, but this list is a place for people to start exploring. If I have missed your favorite site, please send me a comment.