Autism Acceptance Month - What is Neurodiversity and why is it important?
"Neurodiversity" is an umbrella term used to refer to many different forms of being neurodiverse. It includes things such as Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Tourette Syndrome, and others. The term "neurodiversity" was coined in the 1990's by Autistic Sociologist Dr. Judy Singer. It was used to describe the variation in brain function that occurs naturally within a population. It recognizes that neurological differences are not inherently bad or dangerous, but instead another way in which the human species is naturally diverse. It is present in every population regardless of race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic status. Neurodiversity is something one is born with and often runs in families, it is not developed and cannot be cured or fixed, and that's ok. The most debilitating part of autism and other forms of neurodivergence, isn't the autism itself, it's the fact that we live in a society designed to serve those of the predominant neurotype and which leaves little to no room for anyone who is different. Forcing many who aren't neurotypical to conform and mask their neurodiverse traits in order to be accepted by the world.
So then why is it important to learn about neurodiversity?
Whether you are neurodiverse or not, chances are you will have someone in your life who is. And acceptance is one of the greatest things you can do for your neurodiverse peers. In a world not built for us, neurodiverse people are more likely to fall through the cracks, especially as they become adults and any support provided in our school years disappears as we are left to flounder. The truth of why neurodiversity is so important is in the numbers. Statistically, less than a third of Autistic adults are able to hold any form of paid employment, and as a result suffer from higher rates of homelessness and poverty. Autistic women are also 3 times more likely than non-autistic women to experience domestic and/or sexual violence. Even though autism is shown to present equally among different races and genders, women and people of color are significantly less likely to ever get a formal diagnosis. And even with a diagnosis, support for autistic and neurodivergent adults is almost non-existent despite being one of the most prevalent disabilities. It is estimated that more than 2% of adults in the USA are autistic (more than 6 million people), and that only includes those with a formal diagnosis.
So this Autism Acceptance Month, pick up a book by a neurodiverse author and remember that all our brains are unique and individual, and individuality is a strength, not a weakness. Every neurodiverse person is different, with their own struggles and support needs. And trust me, if you happen to be friends with someone on the spectrum, they will be one of the coolest people you know with a colorful and beautiful way of viewing the world.
Unmasking Autism by Devon Price
Sensory: Life on the Spectrum by Rebecca Ollerton
My Brain Is Different by Monzusu (Manga)
The Boy with Big Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee
My Brother Otto & The Birthday Party by Megan Raby
My Brain is Magic by Prasha Sooful
The Ojja-Wojja by Magdalene Visaggio
A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
Different Not Less by Chloe Hayden - This one is a staff favorite!
Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gatsby
Sincerely, Your Autistic Child by Emily Paige Ballou
Any books by Helen Hoag (The Kiss Quotient) and Rivers Solomon (An Unkindness of Ghosts and The Deep) - (both autistic authors)
A Day with No Words by Tiffany Hammond - Available for Pre-order