Ari Ne’eman at the Syracuse University Neurodiversity Symposium, Part 1

Two weeks ago, Syracuse University hosted its first regional Neurodiversity Sypmosium, with Ari Ne’eman as the keynote speaker. Mr. Ne’eman is President and co-founder of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, as well as a presidential appointee to the National Council on Disability. He spoke both fiercely and wittily about both neurodiversity and self-advocacy in the past, present, and future. TPGA was given an audio copy of Mr. Ne’eman’s talk by neurodiversity-immersed journalist Steve Silberman, who said it needed to be shared. This will be the first of three posts covering the talk; this excerpt focuses on Mr. Ne’eman’s coverage of the history of the neurodiversity, self-advocacy, and disability rights movements as civil rights movements, as well as “…the peculiar concept that people with autism could be a minority group like any other.” — I see this symposium not only as the beginning of a process that’s being going on some time…

Loving Lampposts: Accepting and Understanding Neurodiversity

When my son Leo’s autism comes up in casual conversation, the person I’m talking with usually reacts as follows: either they have a relative or close friend with a child with autism and want to talk about it, or they just love that Temple Grandin movie and want to talk about it. In both cases, I’ve longed for a more appropriate autism movie to recommend, one that explores the complexity and diversity of autism experiences beyond one brave, famous woman’s challenges and successes, one that reassures and educates families of children with new autism diagnoses, one that  immerses the viewer in the autism worldview I believe best serves our community: neurodiversity. That film is finally here. It’s called Loving Lampposts. The director, Todd Drezner, showcases the varied faces of our community: the advocates, the adults, the loving parents, the beloved children — plus the professionals, the doctors, the researchers, and…

Autism: Rainbows Abound

Heather E. Sedlock http://www.examiner.com/x-10560-Special-Needs-Kids-Examiner “Autism is a Rainbow” is one of several autism metaphors used by the autism community. These metaphors shape thoughts and beliefs about autism, and influence the actions of individuals. Metaphors also impact family members who have autism, as how their family members view them can influence how they view themselves. To appreciate autism metaphors’ community influence, a definition of autism is necessary. Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder typically characterized by: “Poor social interaction (this can include lack of eye contact, and social exchange, both verbal and non-verbal) “Language delay (expressive language is equally important as receptive language; repetitive phrases and inability to initiate dialog or support it) “Obsessive behavior (this can include inflexibility, repetitive physical movement and fixation on objects).“* Autism Is a Rainbow The rainbow is an object of beauty, something to be seen and appreciated. There is nothing wrong with a rainbow. The…

What is Neurodiversity?

Mike Stanton actionforautism.co.uk When I attended the National Autism Society’s first International Autism Conference in London in 2005, I heard Professor David Amaral tell the story of a young man with Asperger Syndrome who visited the MIND Institute at UC Davis. The young man was asked what he would do if they could develop a pill to cure autism. He thought for a while before replying that he would take half the pill. I think this illustrates a real difference within the autism community. There are many who pathologize autism as a disorder that afflicts an otherwise healthy individual. If you hold this idea you naturally look to understand the causes of autism in order to find that “autism pill.” The idea of neurodiversity was developed by autistic people in opposition to the pathologizing model. According to them autistic people are not disordered. They have a different sort of order.…

Coming to Terms

Kev Leitch www.leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk Its now been nearly seven years since Megan, my eldest daughter, was diagnosed with both autism and a comorbid “severe learning difficulty” (known in the US as mental retardation — it means her measurable IQ is less than 70). Those six years have been a personal journey for me as I first came to terms with Megan’s autism, got lightly involved in the ‘cure autism at all costs’ movement and then as I saw the results (or non results) of this movement, genuinely came to terms with the fact Megan was autistic and got involved in the neurodiversity movement. In those days, 2003, there was very little online regarding autism. No blogs existed that I could find, very few forums and little to no email lists. In order to get your “Google PhD” in those days one had to dig very hard indeed. And boy did I…