Ask an Autistic #19 – What is Neurodiversity?


hi everyone i’m amythest and welcome to this week’s episode of ask an autistic I wanna run a Sun to shine a light be the change we want set things right even waiting in the dark for so long the idea of neurodiversity the neurodiversity movement and and the ideas of autism and disability acceptance are topics that have been coming up a lot and I’ve been getting a lot of questions about them so I thought I’d do a video today to talk about neurodiversity and about acceptance and to hopefully clear up a few misconceptions about neuro diversity and answer some of your guys questions about it so let’s get started neuro diversity is a movement that arose out of the social model of disability in response to the medical model of disability and cure culture the neurodiversity movement while being a movement and a concept on its own is also a part of the larger disability rights movement which is a social justice and civil rights movement um by disabled people for disabled people because the neurodiversity movement has arisen out of the life experiences and the struggles and the accomplishments of autistic people and other neurodivergent people it is something that’s kind of hard to define basically there isn’t a neurodiversity manifesto there aren’t rules that you have to follow to be a part of the neurodiversity movement but there are some generally accepted principles these ideas behind neurodiversity to put it simply neurodiversity states that everybody on the planet has a different brain and that’s okay you may have heard the terms neurotypical and neural atypical or neurotypical and neurodivergent these terms are used by members of the neurodiversity community to differentiate the majority that is neurotypicals from the minority which is neural atypical brains there are some people who don’t really like the terms neurotypical and no atypical stating that since every single person on the planet has a different brain that there is no neurotypical and that a better term for neuro atypical might be neural minority but the most widely used terms are neuro typical and neuro atypical neuro typical referring to the larger majority people whose brains might fall under the umbrella of normal that is that they don’t fit the criteria for any neurological conditions or developmental disabilities or mental illnesses people who are neuro atypical or neurodivergent or in the neuro minority however you want to say it they do have different brains in the majority meaning that their brains with the criteria for a neurological condition developmental disability or mental illness or any combination of the three the neurodiversity movement asserts that variation in the human brain is a part of the human experience and then it’s an expected part of being human that there has always been variation in neuro type and that there will always be variation in neuro type and that differences in neuro type aren’t necessarily inherently bad or harmful and that the variations and differences that do exist with a neuro type are not something that should be discouraged or eradicated so what are some of them myths the misconceptions out there about neurodiversity firstly because neurodiversity is very closely entwined with autism and disability acceptance some people believe that neurodiversity means that you don’t do anything to help the disabled person in question that’s not the case some people seem to think that the neurodiversity movement is anti treatment or anti therapy and again not the case the neurodiversity movement asserts that the differences in narrow type things that aren’t harmful but are just a different way of being don’t need to be corrective so what that means is that an autistic persons natural autistic behaviors the ways that they naturally express themselves and communicate shouldn’t be corrected to be more neurotypical looking or more neurotypical sounding and that this is actually harmful to autistic people so in that way yes neurodiversity is against trying to make autistic people seem more neurotypical making that that looking normal that trying to seem less disabled the priority that’s wrong but when neurodiversity isn’t against is things like occupational therapy for sensory processing disorder or speech therapy for speech impairments or speech dyspraxia the neurodiversity movement isn’t against treatments either in fact we support the use of safe and effective treatments medicine biomedical treatments that have been proven and they do not carry a risk of harm greater than the benefit some of these safe and effective treatments might be the use of medication to treat ADHD or anxiety disorders or depression and of course in autistic people who have comorbid conditions that is conditions existing alongside of their autism like insomnia depression social anxiety epilepsy OCD ADHD neurodiversity movement doesn’t say you shouldn’t treat those things in fact you should but what doesn’t benefit from treatments or from biomedical intervention is autism itself there is no key for autism and so what neurodiversity does not support is any attempts to use therapy to force autistic people and children to try to look as neurotypical as possible and the ineffective expensive and or dangerous treatments like mms that people claim to be able to cure or lessen the symptoms of autism neurodiversity does not support anything that isn’t safe or that isn’t scientifically proven kind of in the same vein another myth about neurodiversity is that the neurodiversity movement is against professional diagnosis or that we believe self diagnosis is better while it’s true that there are somewhat two stick people out there who will never receive an official diagnosis whether you pursue a diagnosis for yourself or for your child is is your choice and the neurodiversity movement accepts that not everyone will have the money or the resources or the time or even the accessibility to services to to get a diagnosis there are a lot of reasons that an autism diagnosis might really come in handy particularly for children who need an IEP or a 504 plan or for anybody who’s seeking accommodation in the workforce but again receiving a professional diagnosis is just not a viable option for lots of autistic people on our planet I think pretty much everyone can agree that having a diagnosis can be very helpful it’s just not necessarily necessary to know yourself that you are autistic and to be a part of the autistic community and to be a part of the neurodiversity movement next myth about neuro diversity is that it’s only for autistic people while the neurodiversity movement did start in large part due to the organization of the autistic community it’s pretty widely accepted now that anybody who is neuro atypical or in the neuro minority kind of falls under the umbrella of neuro diversity and is welcome to be part of the community so that’s people who have developmental or learning disabilities like Down syndrome ADHD epilepsy dyspraxia dyslexia and then mental illnesses as well conditions like depression and social anxiety and OCD and bipolar disorder kind of attached to that myth that neurodiversity is just for autistic people is the myth that neurodiversity is only for the high-functioning autistic people I can kind of see how this myth came about especially since there’s such a pervasive misunderstanding of what the differences between high functioning and low functioning autism and what the autistic experience is like and wrong ideas about non-speaking autistic people but there are lots of a non-speaking autistic people or autistic people who would be considered classically autistic or low functioning the support neurodiversity and that do you advocate for autism acceptance and I’ll link to the blogs and writings of a few of these non-speaking autistic advocates in the video description below if you’d like to check that out the last myth that I will cover today is that the neurodiversity movement says that autism isn’t a disability and I’ve touched on this lightly in a recent video but in short autism is a disability autistic people are disabled we are impaired that means that autistic people need accommodation to be able to have equal access in society and to things like education and the workforce that means that we need to have our differences and our impairments thought of and accommodated for so that we have equal access to level the playing field so to speak but neurodiversity asserts that autism as well as being a disability is also a difference and that there are parts of the autistic experience of the autistic neuro tape that aren’t inherently bad or harmful the orange inferior they are just different I hope this videos answered some questions for you guys and cleared up some moving myths and misconceptions about our diversity out there and of course because the neurodiversity movement doesn’t have a leader there’s no manifesto and we’re not this monolith I am NOT speaking for every person who have a case for neurodiversity this is just I think general principles that the neurodiversity movement tends to follow and fall in line with and to conclude I just like say that you guys probably noticed but the books are back pretty exciting I know that many of you guys missed them since we got into summer on the trees in our yard everything got really fluffy and green lots of leaves which is lovely and nice but it really blocked the light in here so I had to move up closer to the window and I was using that white backdrop and I didn’t like it as much I like to be my bed books but thanks to the very generous contribution to my GoFundMe campaign by an anonymous donator I was able to purchase two umbrella lights which you can’t see what I’m looking at them right now so I’ll be fiddling with my camera in the next couple weeks and figuring out exactly how to use these babies and I think it’ll be great and I’m very very grateful to everybody who has contributed to my GoFundMe campaign so far if you would like to check that out again link in the video description as well as a link to my blog thank you very much for watching this episode of ask an autistic I want a renaissance to shine a light be the change we want some things right even away look for so long

46 thoughts on “Ask an Autistic #19 – What is Neurodiversity?

  1. Your talk of treatment puts me in mind of speculations regarding a gluten-free, casein-free diet to reduce the functional hindrances of autism spectrum disorders. Do you have a view on this?

  2. Yay! The books! They make me so happy! 😀

    Also, there's a great book that helped me called "No Pity" by Joseph P. Shapiro. It's a kind of primer for the Disability Rights Movement. It looks at Disability Culture and its evolution through the (sometimes dark) years, and can help both nondisabled and disabled individuals with the shift in thinking that comes with understanding the spirit of the Disability Rights Movement.

  3. What's your views on autism and education, especially special education. I believe that that autistics especially automatically bright ones get an equal level of education ad advancement as the neurotypicals do. In school, special ed is not that good long term since, speaking from my experience, doesn't help out growth wise. Autistics are not mentally inferior so why does the american education system treat them like they are despite their intelligence ?

  4. Hi Amythest! I absolutely love your videos and as a fellow autistic, and a youtuber (you have many more subscribers than me though) I was wondering if you'd like to collaborate? I completely understand if you don't want to, or if you don't have time or you think it wouldn't fit in with your channel; just wanted to throw the idea out there! 😀

  5. Many autistics on the spectrum are legitimately struggling. Autism isn't someone's entire neurotype; it's clinically defined by the distressing impairments in sensory, communicative, social, developmental, etc. ways. Treating autism, then, just means alleviating the neurological difficulties, just as with any other disorder. I've pretty much recovered from my autistic characteristics, yet I'm still my amazing unique self.

    Yes, cultural and institutional ableism are issues that need to be addressed, but they're not the source of autism-related issues. Many folks on the spectrum feel that their neurological disorder itself is challenging and burdensome, so advising otherwise is analogous to an anti-choicer who thinks adoption/accommodations remove the need for abortion.

    There are plenty of non-shitty scientific treatment/cure-oriented organizations, such as TACA, ASF (“a nonprofit organization supporting autism research premised on the principles that autism has a strong genetic component, that vaccines do not cause autism, and that evidence-based early diagnosis and intervention are critical”), BBRF (who discovered specific genes involved in autism and the fact that oxytocin increases functioning skills in children and adolescents on the spectrum), and CARD (did a treatment trial that resulted in positive outcomes and recovery, 32% of kids in the study no longer met the diagnostic criteria after two years).

    If the neurodiversity movement gains more influence and momentum than the treatment movement, such innovations will be stifled, and (effective, ethical) alleviation from autistic difficulties will be much more scarce.

  6. Amethyst, Thank you so much for doing these videos. You are amazing! I stumbled across a link to this video and I'm definitely sharing. 🙂  Thank you for being a voice for my son & many others!

  7. im british gentleman and 14 in high school some teacher contacted my mom to say i might be autistic its taking so long to get diagnosed

  8. Isn't it a process of nature to try and make things more suitable to their environment? In the case of social survival, 'neurotypicals' are better suited at dealing with the environment then CERTAIN 'neurodivergents/neuroatypicals/etc.' I'm not saying we can't respect some of the wonders of autism and other neurodivergent brains. Their are savants, brilliant scientific minds, and many other things that emerge from these disorders, and a lot of people who think atypically are quite interesting. But in social aspects, a lot of these disorders can cause others to feel uncomfortable, which is a normal reaction based on how their brain works and perceives things, is it not? Socializing is just as much about other people as it is yourself, so it's kinda of silly to ask a group of people to bend and accept your way of expressing yourself, within a social context.

    Perhaps I've missed the point, if that's the case I'm sorry. And I'm not against the movement when it comes to the rights of people who are neurodivergent, and when it comes to accepting that people have different brains. But there is always going to be people who I'm not comfortable with, neurotypical or not. And if they don't change what makes me uncomfortable with them, I'm not going to be comfortable. I won't hate them for it, I won't condemn them, that's silly. But I can't MAKE myself comfortable with them, and if that's asked of me, it's the same thing, just in a different direction.

    I want to elaborate here again that I am not against the movement, nor do I hold any qualms with those who are neurodivergent. And this writing was purely about the disabilities within a social context that CAN (don't always) create problems which cause others to feel uncomfortable. In every other context, ie. Intellectual Expression (Music, Art, other IP), Personal Experience, Beliefs, etc. I believe that there is NO problem with the movement fighting for these things to be looked at without bias because of the persons different brain.

  9. So do you know differences between being in Special Education classes and being "mainstreamed" in regular classes in school? 

  10. I enjoy watching your videos. My dad @AutAth first showed me your videos a few weeks ago. We believe I may be autistic (he has autism and so do my two youngest brothers) however I am not diagnosed. Your videos are very helpful to me.

  11. We need to change the way the world thinks about people with disabilities and not think of them as mistakes that should have been prevented.

  12. Thank you Amythest for publicly educating people of the details of autism and autistic culture. I appreciate the thoroughness of your coverage on autism. Because of your effort into making video collections of information, I will be able to direct people to your page for a general comprehension of autism, especially with the details I am unclear or not confident in presenting. Thanks.

  13. the harry potter books have been moved in the shelf…

    But isn't somehow everyone a little bit neurodivers? Everyone is different from each other and so is the attention, the brain and the personality of the human. So I think saying neurotypical to a group of people is the wrong way…

  14. I added translation captions but it does not processed yet I hope we could see it sooner or later. I still don't know the caption confirming system how it is confirmed by whom and how. I checked twice and I HOPE we could share it to others as well in korea. This is a great idea and I think it needs to be understood many teachers and parents.

  15. Most people are at least one of theses: OCD, depressed, socially anxious, bipolar, ADHD, dyslexic….
    Most of the world is atypical but just try to pretend to be typical.

  16. Thank you for this, I'm Dyslexic and listend to lots on Neurodiversity from that point of view, very interesting to see it from another.

  17. An happy autistic person is first and foremost an autistic person who learned to accept itself as a different being not as a burden for the NT society.

  18. The Current biggest matters for autistics are in my opinion Self loathing/self hatred, lack of support/acceptance/appropriate education and anti-intellectualism.
    Most of the people I've heard wanted a cure while being on the spectrum actually have a sad amount of devastating self hatred.

  19. Thank you for mentioning that not everyone can have the money and resources to get a diagnosis. Sounds like you are okay with self diagnosis. Which I am one! I check a lot of the boxes and relate so much to it. There are some autistic I've met out there who are absolutely against self diagnosis they made me feel terrible.

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