neurodiversity-myth-brain“The cumulative effect of these studies suggests that a more judicious approach to treating mental disorders would be to replace a “disability” or “illness” paradigm with a “diversity” perspective that takes into account both strengths and weaknesses and the idea that variation can be positive in and of itself. To this end, a new term has arisen… neurodiversity…Since that time, the use of the term has continued to grow beyond the autism rights movement to fields such as disability studies, special education, higher education, business, counseling, and medicine…” – Thomas Armstrong PhD, author Neurodiversity and Neurodiversity in the Classroom.

Congrats Thomas Armstrong for his recent letter to the worldwide medical community entitled The Myth of the Normal Brain: Embracing Neurodiversity. 

We in the midst of dramatic upheavals in our notions of the status quo in society and none the more profound is the one that is taking place in the discussions of people’s cognitive or brain-related differences.

Tom published his op-ed in the Ethics Journal of the America Medical Association and he challenged the notion of the existence of normal brains vs. disabled ones – and the ramifications are great not only for our dyslexic community, but also some of the pioneers in the autistic, deaf, and other communities.

Tom’s specific mention of dyslexia in his op-ed is here: ”

People with dyslexia have been found to possess global visual-spatial abilities, including the capacity to identify “impossible objects” (of the kind popularized by M. C. Escher) [4], process low-definition or blurred visual scenes [5], and perceive peripheral or diffused visual information more quickly and efficiently than participants without dyslexia [6]. Such visual-spatial gifts may be advantageous in jobs requiring three-dimensional thinking such as astrophysics, molecular biology, genetics, engineering, and computer graphics.”

Also: “Such strengths may suggest an evolutionary explanation for why these disorders are still in the gene pool. A growing number of scientists are suggesting that psychopathologies may have conferred specific evolutionary advantages in the past as well as in the present…the three-dimensional thinking seen in some people with dyslexia may have been highly adaptive in preliterate cultures for designing tools, plotting out hunting routes, and constructing shelters, and would not have been regarded as a barrier to learning [16]. The key symptoms of ADHD, including hyperactivity, distractibility, and impulsivity, would have been adaptive traits in hunting and gathering societies in which people who were peripatetic in their search for food, quick in their response to environmental stimuli, and deft in moving toward or away from potential prey would have thrived.”

The discussion with established medical professions is in its infancy, but nice Tom was able to help give it a good push!

Listen to more in Fernette’s interview with Tom below: