Proponents of neurodiversity use this term to refer to natural differences in the ways people experience and express their psychological worlds. Most obviously, they refer to neurological differences usually labeled as conditions or disabilities (autism, ADHD, psychosis, depression, bipolar disorder, learning disabilities). Some also use the term to describe more subtle differences such as how individuals experience pleasure or suffering in their daily lives (e.g., pleasure from music or art; sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights).
To detractors of the neurodiversity movement, the word has different connotations: of disrespect, cruelty, and danger. To begin with, say critics, most proponents of neurodiversity are (or are parents of) people with high-functioning forms of these conditions, and as such they fail to take into account the very real suffering endured by those with severe forms of the same conditions. In this view, the idea of withholding a cure from a severely disabled autistic child who cannot speak, hug his or her parents, or control his or her movements is not only disrespectful but downright cruel. To speak of neurodiversity solely from a high-functioning standpoint is to discount the needs and hopes of those for whom such conditions are painfully crippling.
See more about Neurodiversity in CREDO.
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