First a pat on the back.
Reading and browsing through social media and the web in the last few days I am pleased to congratulate Dictionary.Com for their inclusion of the term Neurodiversity:
the variation and differences in neurological structure and functionthat exist among human beings, especially when viewed as beingnormal and natural rather than pathological:
recognizing autism as an example of neurodiversity.
This is unquestionably a good thing. This should be resoundingly applauded. This is a great thing. A great step forward for the neurodiversity paradigm. Many neurodivergent advocates have worked and spoken for neurodiversity to be seen as a “normal and natural” part of human society. And it is.
Certainly this is a great step forward. At the sam time though we realise that it is just one step and much work still must be done. The idea that being neurodivergent is merely a natural variant of the human condition like being left-handed is far from mainstream. Much advocacy is still to be done.
In the very same online source as the above we see a horrendous, hurtful and extremely negative definition of autism itself.
Psychiatry. a pervasive developmental disorder of children,characterized by impaired communication, excessive rigidity, and emotional detachment: now considered one of the autism spectrum disorders
a tendency to view life in terms of one’s own needs and desires.
There is just so much wrong with this definition. It’s simply terrible. Firstly being autistic is not exclusive to children, I happen to be a 45 year old adult autistic man, I know many other autists too of similar ages. Autism does not disappear magically when one reaches the age of 18.
Being autistic is a state of difference, not a state of impairment. It must be remembered, and remembered very clearly that the statements here are in comparison to a so-called normal. What is that normal anyway and is there actual a single person living in the world that would meet all the criteria of this so-called normal? I suspect the answer is a resounding negative.
In terms of communication, rigidity and emotional detachment. It is not deficit or impairment it is difference and divergence. For as long as we
view these issues as issues of deficit and impairment we will continue to fail to acknowledge and uphold that autistic rights are human rights.
The definition listed as 2. here is despicable. Here dictionary.com happily wrap autistics into a single category of selfish people who have no concern for the needs and desires of others. Never have I read anything so far from the truth. It is hurtful. It is hateful. It must be drawn attention to. It must be changed.
The failure of dictionary.com to listen clearly to the autistic community is highlighted further in this entry in it’s “usage note”:
Rather than talking about an autistic or autistics, it is better to use phrasessuch as a person with autism and people with autism
Zero consideration that there is variance in this idea. Zero consideration that the autistic community finds this terminology offensive and hurtful. The autistic community has spoken loud, long and continually about this issue. We are not people with autism. I am not a person with autism. I am autistic. When I gather with other autistics we are not people with autism.
I suggest we latch on to the great definition provided by Nick Walker a great advocate in the neurodiversity movement.
Autism is a genetically-based human neurological variant.
Neurocosmopolitanism is definitely worth a visit. A great site with lots of wonderful information.
I call on my readers to challenge dictionary.com on this issue. Help raise the bar and change the negativity, the pathology of impairment into the celebration of difference and divergence.
Autism is a noun. I am not a noun I am a person. I am Richard Johnson Âû a proud autistic man who is different not less. I am neurodivergent not pathologically impaired. I am disabled not by impairment but by a social construct of what normality supposedly is. I am wonderfully neurodivergent. I am wonderfully different and divergent, I am different, I am not less.
I am autistic and I am proud to be me.