Neurodiversity info thread!

So you’re doing a story about #Neurodiversity, or you want to know more about the Neurodiversity Movement. We’re here to help.

First, It’s useful to know what the terms “neurodiversity” and “neurodiversity movement” mean.…
Neurodiversity is about understanding and accepting brain-based disability. People who have brain-based disabilities are “neurodivergent.”

The #Neurodiversity Movement is about supporting neurodivergent people’s rights and value as human beings.
Critics often say incorrect things about both #neurodiversity and the neurodiversity movement. This is not surprising, as any time a minority group stands up for its rights the majority group often resists having to change the way they think about & treat members of the minority.
Since mainstream society usually takes a negative view on #disability, it is hard for some people to understand that #neurodiversity supporters can be both “really” disabled and also capable of advocacy.
Let’s talk about some misunderstandings you may have heard about #neurodiversity, each followed by an explanation of why they are not accurate.
MYTH: Neurodiversity is only about autism, and “neurodivergent” is a synonym for “autistic”

No! #Neurodiversity is the idea that people matter and have rights, regardless of how their brains work.
#Neurodiversity includes people with ADHD, intellectual disability, mental illness, Down syndrome, dementia, and TBI (traumatic brain injuries), and many others, as well as #autistic people.
Because of this inclusiveness, blame-shifting claims such as "he isn’t autistic, he’s crazy" are contrary to #neurodiversity principles.

The Neurodiversity Movement, however, is mostly led by #autistic people and does tend to be #autism-focused.
MYTH: #Neurodiversity claims autism is not a disability, and is just a “different way of looking at the world”

No! #Autism is specifically a developmental disability. Neurodiversity advocates usually identify as being disabled, as well as with the wider disability community.
MYTH: #Neurodiversity excludes #autistic people with intellectual disability or who are non-speaking, & is only for "high-functioning" quirky people who have a benign personality difference.

NO! There is no such thing as neurodiversity without ppl with intellectual disabilities.
Every minority group has a few people who behave badly and do not represent the group. Occasionally journalists can find 1 or 2 autistics who do not want to be associated with high-support autistic people. It is not good journalism to cite these ppl as #neurodiversity supporters.
MYTH: #Neurodiversity advocates are not really disabled if they can use Twitter or write blog posts.

NO! You can’t tell anything about a person’s abilities or disabilities by whether or not they can put words on a screen.
MYTH: #Neurodiversity advocates claim "severe autism" doesn't exist

NO! Advocates who say things that sound like this are talking about problems with functioning labels, not denying intensive disabilities.
Saying “low functioning” or “severe” leads to dismissing a person’s abilities, whereas saying “high functioning” dismisses their disabilities—which is why many #neurodiversity advocates use the terms “high support” and “low support” instead.
Many autistic people have what are called “spiky profiles,” which means the same person can have both pronounced abilities and disabilities—whether or not they require full-time support. #Neurodiversity
MYTH: #Neurodiversity advocates wants to take away funding/housing choices for people w/"severe autism."

NO! This is an intentionally misleading argument by parents who want to appropriate federal HCBS funds that have been earmarked to help disabled people live in the community.
#Neurodiversity advocates think people should be able to choose where they live, even if they need help to make or express their choice. Disabled people should also be able to live together if that is their choice, even in group homes—as long as their autonomy is respected.
MYTH: Neurodiversity claims “nonverbal” #autism doesn't exist & autistics with speech disabilities are hidden geniuses who need FC.

NO! #Neurodiversity doesn’t mean denying intellectual disability/communication disabilities. It means honoring all forms of communication & agency.
Everyone can communicate. But we need more research on #autistic communication and motor planning issues so we can develop best practices for autistic people with communication disabilities. #Neurodiversity
MYTH: Neurodiversity advocates oppose all autism therapies & research.

NO! #Neurodiversity advocates support services, therapies, & research are genuinely dedicated to improving #autistic people’s well-being, such as GI issues, communication, sleep issues, epilepsy, & anxiety.
Unfortunately, most autism research & “treatments” are either about preventing or curing autism, or trying to condition autistic children to behave like non-autistic children. These do not help autistic people, and many, like ABA Therapy, are widely considered to be traumatizing.
What autistic people need is for non-autistic people to try to understand how #autistic people experience the world, and to respect autistic communication, processing, self-regulation, downtime, transition, sensory sensitivity, emotional, burnout, & other needs. #Neurodiversity
MYTH: #Neurodiversity means everyone can be completely independent and self-advocate without any supports.

NO! Not everyone can do everything by themselves, & that’s okay! In fact, all people are interdependent on one another to some degree.
It’s not bad or wrong for people to need support with things like communicating, personal care needs, or navigating places. The #neurodiversity movement doesn’t expect everyone to be able to do things for themselves. Rather, we want people to be in control of their lives.
MYTH: #Neurodiversity excludes people who critique the ND movement, or who want to cure their autism.

NO! This is like saying feminism excludes Anne Coulter. ND advocates fight for the rights of all neurodivergent ppl, just like feminists continue to fight for Coulter's rights.
When including critical voices in #neurodiversity coverage, it is important to be aware of whether these voices are outliers, just as Coulter is an outlier.
…It is also important to be aware of whether #neurodiversity critics speak out against other rights-based advocacy movements, such as LGBT rights, or if they frequently make claims that are racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise bigoted. Twitter feeds can be helpful here.
MYTH: Neurodiversity “celebrates” neurological differences like pedophilia or psychopathy that hurt people.

HELL NO! Understanding that people’s brains work differently is the core of #neurodiversity, but blaming harmful actions on neurodivergence is unacceptable.
Note: This is why #neurodiversity advocates actively dispel myths such as “autistic people who commit sexual assault don’t know any better.” (See @BudrykZack:…).
@BudrykZack MYTH: Neurodiversity advocates want parents of autistic children with complex & intensive disabilities to be silent about the realities of their lives, and are “whitewashing” autism.

NOPE! #Neurodiversity advocates want all ND community members treated with compassion & respect.
@BudrykZack …This is not denying how difficult the lives of #autistic people & their families can be; having grown up autistic, &/or being parents of autistic kids ourselves, we understand all too well how hard things can be for an autistic child in a non-autistic family. #neurodiversity
@BudrykZack We do not think it is fair for #autistic kids to be the focus of stories about how hard autism makes their families’ lives. These stories worsen stigma for #autistic ppl, instead of raising awareness about how better to include & accommodate them as fellow humans. #neurodiversity
@BudrykZack In addition, #Neurodiversity advocates believe disabled people and their family members should not have to reveal deeply personal and/or degrading details in order to prove they “deserve” supports. Access to these supports should be a right, not a reward or a privilege.
@BudrykZack We would like journalists to give more consideration to how they cover stories about autism and parenting: avoid using sensationalistic details, & respect the privacy of people who have not given consent to have their intimate and difficult times made public. #neurodiversity
@BudrykZack Journalists should also be aware of research indicating that parents who seek to understand, accept, & support their #autistic children’s realities tend to have better mental health than those who do not—regardless of the nature of their children’s support needs. #neurodiversity
@BudrykZack Finally, #neurodiversity advocates are as mad about inadequate supports & funding for #autistic kids, adults and families as the parents in anti-autism stories. That is why ND advocates fight for policy changes & other efforts meant to benefit everyone in the #autism communities.
@BudrykZack Thanks for reading along with our #neurodiversity facts and myths! All of these tweets are excerpts from our Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism’s Neurodiversity primer, which you can read in full at:…
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