Health Care Analysis

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 20–30

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

Authors

    • Linköping University
  • Stellan Welin
    • Linköping University
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10728-011-0169-9

Cite this article as:
Jaarsma, P. & Welin, S. Health Care Anal (2012) 20: 20. doi:10.1007/s10728-011-0169-9

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.

Keywords

AutismDisabilityDSM-VEqualityNeurodiversityVulnerability

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011