Neurodiversity (Autism)

Neurodiversity: Difference, not disability.

Two views regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exist in the world:

  1. First perspective, that something is wrong with the person, something is missing, something is broken. The narrative here is to use imagery of a jigsaw puzzle piece as missing. What is the missing piece? Along with this is a story of what caused something to be missing: vaccinations, toxins, poisons, eating bacon, poor parenting, etc. The end point of all this is that the person needs to be fixed and is seen as damaged and to be pitied.

  2. Second perspective, that nothing is wrong with the person. There is nothing missing, nothing broken. The brain is simply wired differently. This is part of human diversity. Thus the term coined has been neuro-diversity. To be Autistic is seen as a strength, not a weakness. The symbol used here is the rainbow lemniscate. This term - ‘neurodiversity’ - was first coined by Judy Singer in 1998 in a thesis published at the University of Technology, Sydney. The term tends to emphasise the positives rather sitting with a negative diagnostic position. However, the term can also gloss over the challenges of autism.

The entry point for both perspectives tends to be via diagnosis, either self or via a clinician. Diagnosis by its definition is to see that something is wrong, thus supporting the First Perspective. Diagnosis is to list factors of concern that meet a pattern indicating a possible conclusion.

A diagnosis, of anything, is usually in looking at characteristics and symptoms, deemed to be negative/ problematic. One does not diagnose happiness!

The usual difficulty that Autistic individuals experience is in their social interaction with others who are are non-autistic (sometimes referred to as either Allistic or Neurotypical). This is because the behaviour of the other is not understood, seems irrational, possibly in violation/ contradiction of an existing expectation, perception or pattern.

Masking their autism - to appear 'normal' - leads Autistic individuals to experience burnout, stress, depression and anxiety as they are not being authentic to themselves.

"Autism is experienced differently by each individual. However, there are a number of elements that we each have in common. Our brains are configured to work best with single focus, most of us find eye contact difficult, a number of us live with sensory dysphoria, and the social world is an enigma to us.

Autism is considered to be a spectrum of varying ability."

(Wenn Lawson in 'The Nine Degrees of Autism', 2016, xiii)

As a social worker I am not able to diagnose. I can work with you to support and explore the possibility of living your best Autistic self! Contact me now for more information or to make an appointment.