UoA Neurodiversity Club - an Introduction to Neurodiversity
Neurodiversity refers to the natural spectrum of human neurological variation. The Neurodiversity movement believes that to think differently should not be stigmatized or viewed as lesser. Our club aims to provide a safe space for Neurodiverse people, fight stigma and spread awareness for our cause.
At the start of this year, several friends and I formed the UOA Neurodiversity club.
We often get asked: what is Neurodiversity?
Well, Neurodiversity refers to the natural spectrum of human neurological variation. The Neurodiversity movement believes that to think differently should not be stigmatized or viewed as lesser but instead be acknowledged for its benefits as well as the very real struggles someone may face. Our club’s goals are to provide a safe space for Neurodiverse people, fight stigma and spread awareness for our cause. A lot of people in the world, and maybe you, could be Neurodiverse.
It may surprise some to learn how many famous and respected people in the world are Neurodiverse. This includes individuals such as Stephen Wiltshire, the amazing artist who can draw unique landscapes based on a perfected photographic memory. It includes Susan Boyle, the singer who made fame on Britain’s Got Talent. And it also consists of people you would not expect like the actor for Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe, who disclosed his Dyspraxia diagnosis. Our list includes advocates too, like the remarkable 17-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg. Another activist is the nonbinary autism awareness advocate Jim Sinclair. Jim was wrongfully dismissed by society before learning to speak at the age of 12 and revealing to the world their true capabilities. All these individuals are a testament to what the Neurodiverse community are capable of.
Neurodiversity has a dark, hidden history. From 1939-1945, Nazi Germany conducted its Aktion T4 forced euthanasia programme, where Neurodiverse people were targeted en mass. From the 1950s-1970s, mothers were labelled “neglectful” for raising autistic children. Whilst dyspraxia was branded as “Clumsy child syndrome.”
It was only through the parents of Neurodiverse children fighting the system, and through Neurodiverse individuals revealing their inner capabilities, that many in our community gained a right to an education.
Mary Temple Grandin
In the 1980s, our perspective began to be heard. Due to people such as Mary Temple Grandin coming out as being autistic, the perception of Neurodiverse society’s began to change. Autism does not have to be a lifelong crippling disability; in fact, it can allow people to thrive. This was in a sense the beginning of our movement.
However, society’s discourse around Neurodiversity needs to change. Large autism charities and organizations have for years dedicated resources around Autism to prevention and cure without necessity nor success. What our movement seeks to do is reframe the discourse so that our focus is on empowerment, improving lives and working to rectify the inequalities that exist in our community. This is our mission. And this is what we will fight for.