What is the neurodiversity movement?

We live in a time when social movements want to make visible these concepts which have been stigmatized with negative connotations. The medical dictionary and scientific etymology, especially those of a psychological nature (autism, ADHD, dyslexia) have been tasked with labeling groups often discriminated against by others.

What we call the neurodiversity movement it encompasses all people diagnosed with mental or neurological disorders who are treated in a discriminatory manner by society and who claim their rights. Let’s see what it is.


    The neurodiversity movement was initiated by the autistic community to refer to the diversity of human characteristics affected neurologically. The intention is to replace one vocabulary with another, using terminology without stigma as opposed to concepts such as illness, pathology or mental retardation. At first, it was an idea that gained a lot of force in the scientific and social sector, but there are increasingly critical critics with the application of these measures.

    The concept of neurodiversity is used to emphasize the nature of neurological and / or biological problems. In other words, it is expected to somehow normalize the differences between people with mental disorders and those who don’t experience them in the first person. For example, being dyslexic is normal in that it is a condition that should not affect the personal or professional development of individuals, nor serve as an excuse for receiving discriminatory treatment. It’s just a different condition, neither better nor worse. They are natural variations of the human brain, nothing more.

    The birth of this movement it is attributed to the excessive medicalization from which this community suffers and that, according to his denunciations, this only increases prejudices and differences with other human beings. They are taken care of in special schools, in special classes, they are reunited with people of their same situation, avoiding any contact with others. They are led to specific jobs, usually unskilled labor, which prevents them from developing their interests and talents.

    Additionally, the neurodiversity movement highlights the fact of the constant terminological damage attributed to autistics and others, with this approach only being negative, as something that needs to be addressed or that can harm society as a whole. Renowned doctor specializing in autism, Simon Baron-Cohen, or Dr. Thomas Anderson, specialist in neuroscience, have particularly criticized the classic vocabulary of “disorders” and have already replaced terms such as disorder for diversity or difference for handicap. .

      Arguments in favor of the concept

      The first thing that comes to our mind when we say or read the word autistic is that it’s someone we don’t need to join in with or, directly, we call them weird or weird. . Well, according to experts in the field, neither ADHD nor many other psychological conditions can be considered illnesses because it is not a problem which resides in the functioning of the body as something isolated. In fact, the causes of these phenomena are unknown. For an abnormality to have disease status, it must be able to be cured or be initiated by abnormalities in a specific area of ​​the body or DNA.

      Among the many arguments for defending the concept of neurodiversity, the most important is to prevent the “affected” person from feeling scorned, raped or seen as a person with fewer rights. In addition, many people with autism consider the opposite. They claim to develop higher cognitive abilities than the average population, reaffirming that they have a special and healthier way of perceiving everything around them.

      Another beneficial element of neurodiversity is focus on how to strengthen the strengths of people with such differences instead of trying to find the problems they cause. One of the tools used to carry out this approach is Universal Design for Learning at the University of North Carolina. However, it should be noted that the neurodiversity movement does not negate the difficulties that affected individuals experience.

        Elements against

        Without contradicting especially the reasons and arguments in favor of the existence of neurodiversity, most scientific and medical experts in neuroscience warn do not underestimate the serious problems faced by people with autism or other related disorders. They also view autism as a serious disorder and not just a variation of human diversity.

        On the other hand, neuroanatomical abnormalities have been detected in the brains of people with disorders encompassed in neurodiversity movement, although no specific “starting point” for these alterations. Many relatives also warn about the importance of not underestimating or over-normalizing this phenomenon, and point out the serious disadvantages of having a family member with autism: in many cases, self-harm, lack of communication and unexpected temper tantrums are common.

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