Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Shoals of Neurodiversity

I used to have a blog at this very spot, but deleted all about ten months ago due to some serious introspection that needed to occur.

But it's time to start it up again.

The Shoals of Neurodiversity is the umbrella title for a project that I hope will become a book. I plan to share portions of it on this blog as it proceeds. I'm also trying to shop chapters around as essays to be included in other places. We'll see.

I'll put one up here soon. I have to give it enough time to properly assume it has been rejected by I know. Shoot for the stars, right?

What an awful preamble. I didn't even tell you what the project was about. Basically, it's about neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is a term that embraces a positive attitude toward people with Asperger's syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders. I also think that it's a wide enough term that it can embrace those who are a bit weird, but maybe not to the extent that they need an expensive diagnosis.

I like thinking about the shoals of neurodiversity because shoals is one of those neat words with multiple meanings. It can be the shallow bits near the shore of a large body of water. Bits that can be difficult to navigate a boat through but, at the same time, quite easy to wade in. The other meaning is similar to a school of fish, although I think schools may be homogeneous groups, while shoals are more heterogeneous with a large variety of fishes existing in the same area. 

I could be wrong. I grew up in a desert.

Either way, to me the Shoals of Neurodiversity represents the teeming masses (somewhere between 1 and 10 percent of the population, depending on which studies you read) of people who are on the autism spectrum or very near to it. It also represents can be a swath of the human experience that can be difficult to navigate, but not impossible to comfortably wade in.

My main point in this project is to emphasize that, despite how much the neurotypical (non-autistic) mainstream might like to otherize us, we are, and always have been present in the fabric of humanity. We belong. We help shape the world. We don't want to be cast out, neglected, or judged as lesser because we aren't as adept at negotiating the social structures of the neurotypical world.

It is my hope that this project will be helpful to everyone.

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