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Autism as a Natural Human Variation : Reflections on the Claims of the Neurodiversity Movement

By Pier Jaarsma and Stellan Welin

Abstract

Neurodiversity has remained a controversial concept over the last decade. In its broadest sense the concept of neurodiversity regards atypical neurological development as a normal human difference. The neurodiversity claim contains at least two different aspects. The first aspect is that autism, among other neurological conditions, is first and foremost a natural variation. The other aspect is about conferring rights and in particular value to the neurodiversity condition, demanding recognition and acceptance. Autism can be seen as a natural variation on par with for example homosexuality. The broad version of the neurodiversity claim, covering low-functioning as well as high-functioning autism, is problematic. Only a narrow conception of neurodiversity, referring exclusively to high-functioning autists, is reasonable. We will discuss the effects of DSM categorization and the medical model for high functioning autists. After a discussion of autism as a culture we will analyze various possible strategies for the neurodiversity movement to claim extra resources for autists as members of an underprivileged culture without being labelled disabled or as having a disorder. We will discuss their vulnerable status as a group and what obligation that confers on the majority of neurotypicals

Topics: Autism, Disability, DSM-V, Equality, Neurodiversity, Vulnerability, Ethics, Etik
Publisher: 'Springer Science and Business Media LLC'
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s10728-011-0169-9
OAI identifier: oai:DiVA.org:liu-72172
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