Talk:The Neurodiversity Movement/Section 1: The Basics
I would tend to think that both the social and the scientific approaches have good and bad aspects.
I partly disagree with the scientific approach because I don't see why a neurotype would necessarily have to originate from genetics. Even if a person acquired cerebral palsy after an accident, it doesn't change the fact that it is a label that describes how his/her brain works now. Plus, we cannot know to what extent neuro-developmental disabilities are caused by genetics and not by the environment. (By the way, I personally think that genetics plays a huge role, and, no, I am not at all a proponent of the «Refrigerator Mother Theory Of Autism», in case you are wondering. All I mean is that the environment we grow up in has an influence over the way our brain develops.). I also don't really like to talk about a “completely differently wired brain”, as I am skeptical about the existence of a typical human brain. I would like to emphasize that the way your brain works is dramatically complex. It affects and shapes each bit of your life, and I doubt there is such thing as a “normalcy” when it comes to the mind. (Here is an article written by Tera Kirk that shares my viewpoint about “neurotypicality” :http://sweetperdition.wordpress.com/2008/03/19/outlander/).
I also disagree with the social approach because it seems nonsensical to me to say that it's possible to have two neurotypes. If developmental disabilities such as Asperger's Syndrome, ADD etc. exist, the diagnostic criteria instituted by psychiatrists can be arbitrary, flawed and are often overlapping. For instance, on examination of the DSM-IV, “autism disorder” and “Asperger's Syndrome” are extremely similar to each other. If Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner had worked together, they'd certainly have instituted the same diagnostic criteria. Another example : f you are clumsy, have difficulty understanding non-verbal cues and also have some autistic characteristics you will likely be diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and dyspraxia. However, it isn't because two names can describe some aspects of your neurological condition that your clumsiness or your trouble with non-verbal cues come from different areas of your brain: your clumsiness is not linked with Asperger's Syndrome on one side and, on the other side, with dyspraxia. It may in fact be part of the same kind of brain configuration.
In some respects, both approaches seem problematic to me because I don't think that a diagnosis/several diagnoses can define your neurotype. A neurotype is the way your whole brain functions; it is endlessly rich and complicated and certainly can't be summed up by psychiatric labels. Saying that one's neurotype is “dyslexia” implies that only this learning difference is worth mentioning because the rest of the brain functions normally. But here again, we face the assumption that there is a typical human brain...
However, I think both approaches can be useful; it all depends on the context. If you want to talk about your needs or to explain how your neurological disabilities affect your day-to-day life, it might be better to discuss all your diagnoses, so that people can understand precisely what you are talking about. It also contributes to creating a social identity among those who have the same diagnoses. (Hey, the Neurodiversity Movement wouldn't have existed without psychiatric labels, after all!). But as previously explained, both approaches have , in my eyes, many flaws, and I think that if you really want to understand how someone's brain works and to create a society adapted to all frames of minds, you have to think beyond labels.
I guess that what you mean by asking which of those labels can be considered as neurotypes is, which of those conditions can be seen as valid and healthy. Do I understand well your question ? If the answer is “yes”, here is my opinion :
I think that what makes a neurological condition valid and healthy , is that you feel whole and complete with it, you don't perceive it as a parasite, something being alien to you, or something that's part of you but that you'd better get rid of. All that depends on the way you conceive your identity, and identity being something inherently subjective, I don't think any aspect of your neurology can be considered as being “diseased” or “good” in itself. Instead of asking “Shall we consider autism/depression/ADD/schizophrenia/whatever as a valid way of being ? “, we should ask “Does this person, no matter his or her cognitive configuration, feels well the way he or she is ? “
However, if I consider that people have power over everything that concern their brain, including the right to change it entirely and the right no to change it at all, I can't help feeling a bit uncomfortable about people who want to change some characteristics they are born with, because they obviously can't know what it's like to live without them. I often wonder if the individuals who are born with a neurological disability and who want to change don't have a very idealized and far from reality view of what it would be like to get rid of it.
I have also noticed, that, even among the pro-ND community, especially among the autistic people who supported it, there was no consensus about what was “changing the person” and “helping the person to improve”. For instance, Temple Grandin considers that the flat tone of voice commonly associated with Asperger's is something that needs to be corrected whereas some autistic individuals think it is changing the person just in order to make the others more comfortable and that it's a wrong thing. So, even if one is happy with his/her neurological condition, he/she might think that it would be better if some aspects of it were changed. In fact, I guess everyone possessing a brain thinks that way... And what is a healthy change and what is a threat to the person you are is definitely a matter of identity.
--Dystopian 08:57, 22 April 2009 (UTC)