The neurodiversity movement is a social movement that seeks to increase the acceptance and inclusion of all people, while embracing neurological differences. It emerged during the 1990s, with disability activist Judy Singer coining the term in her 1998 honorary thesis. She argued that autism and other neurological conditions are a normal variation of the human genome. In the 2000s, the neurodiversity movement was driven largely by the voices, promotion and protest of the autistic community, facilitated by advances in communication and online networks.
This has led to an increased understanding of autism and other forms of neurological difference, with most activities taking place online. However, this paradigm has also aroused controversy among disability advocates, as opponents argue that it risks minimizing the suffering associated with some disabilities. A balanced stance on neurodiversity offers key principles for guiding the development, implementation and evaluation of early interventions. This includes understanding and producing structural language outside of autism criteria, as well as expanding access to language and communication without considering it to make a person “less autistic”.
Despite its benefits, the neurodiversity movement has a number of weaknesses and problems that it doesn't address. The term “neurodiversity” has been quoted in Hansard (Parliament of the United Kingdom, 200) in reference to an advice and action group on neurodiversity on the autism spectrum. In addition, debates have arisen in the United States about whether relevant neurodivergences should be neurodevelopmental or can be acquired in the environment or in adulthood. The Autism Rights Movement is a social movement within the movement for neurodiversity and the movement for the rights of people with disabilities.
The growth of autistic self-defense and the neurodiversity movement have generated new ethical, theoretical and ideological debates within autism theory, research, and practice. This encompasses terms such as neurodiversity and neurodiversity movement, its breadth, its rhetorical basis for defending neurological differences, its overlap with the medical model and its divergence from it, and its emphasis on self-defense. Autonomy, the Critical Journal of Interdisciplinary Autism Studies is a journal that promotes the cause of autistic people as publishers and authors of new academic studies, while preserving key texts from the neurodiversity movement.
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