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Normality and diversity

RaeY's picture

I think that to some extent, this week’s readings has a nice linkage to last week’s readings as the discussion on neurodiversity is also a discussion on normality. Nick Walker’s blog is very helpful in getting the concepts and terms straight. I really appreciated the word “neurodiversity” because it is not classifying people into what’s normal and what’s not like the word “disability” does. The word “neurodiversity” is indicating a large range of possibilities and acknowledging the diverse nature of human minds. This idea of “neurodiversity” reminds me of the famous saying of Zhuangzi, a Chinese philosopher, “If you are not a fish, how can you know if a fish is happy or not?” People are sometimes limited to their own world view while forgetting that someone may perceive the world very differently. Although the word “neurodiversity” is relatively neutral, there are still words like “neurodivergent” and “neurotypical” that are drawing out the line of normality.

I am also intrigued by the idea of "Neurocosmopolitanism". By creating this word (and maybe this concept as well), Nick Walker abandoned the traditional standard of normal vs. abnormal and applied the standard of diversity as he "refuses to pathologize neurocognitive styles and experiences that differ from our own, and to accept neurodiversity as a natural, healthy, and important form of human biodiversity – a fundamental and vital characteristic of the human species, a crucial source of evolutionary and creative potential". The problem about Eugenics is that they only want Darwin's point of "the survival of the fittest" but forget about Darwin's emphasis on the power of diversity. It is the diversity of phenotypes that make a certain species stronger and more adaptable to the environment and this idea applies to the human species as well.    

Through this week’s reading, I learned a lot about neurodiversity and especially autism. This is the first time for me to hear extensively from the perspective of autistic people. The video I Stim, Therefor I am by Melanie Yergeau is especially provoking. To be honest, the knowledge I have about autism before this week’s readings was very limited to the stereotypes of autistic people disseminated by charity organizations: weird social behaviors, incapability to communicate, and sometimes super talents. It is interesting to think about how the charity’s picture of autism differ from the reality. The “downsides” of autism is often enlarged and emphasized to arose the pity from people to raise more funding. The YouTube series: Ask an Autistics definitely helped me to better understand autism and the materials discussed in the other readings.