SPECIALISTERNE NETWORK

International Specialisterne Community

Specialisterne Foundation

Specialisterne Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation with the goal to generate meaningful employment for one million autistic/neurodivergent persons through social entrepreneurship, corporate sector engagement and a global change in mindset.SPECIALISTERNE FOUNDATION

 
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AUTISM, NEURODIVERSITY AND NEURODIVERGENCE

We are all neurodiverse!

In 1998, sociologist and autistic rights activist Judy Singer coined the word neurodiversity as a synonym for neurological biodiversity. Just as biodiversity indicates the coexistence and differentiation of different species in an ecosystem, so neurodiversity defines the natural variation among all brains in the human species.

According to this idea, we are all neurodiverse precisely because, although we belong to the same species, there is no brain equal to another.

Neurodivergence

Inside the infinite variety of human neurodiversity, however, some people share a number of characteristics compared to others. The majority of individuals undergo a neurological development which, apart from the individual differences, can be considered typical, therefore we call them neurotypicals.

A smaller part of the population (between 15 and 20%), on the other side, shares a neurological development in some respects different from the majority that, from a statistical point of view, we can describe it as atypical. These people are defined as neuroatypical or neurodivergent, and among them we can place autistic, dyslexic, ADHD, tourectic, dyscalculic, dysgraphic individuals.

According to this idea, we are all neurodiverse precisely because, although we belong to the same species, there is no brain equal to another.

Autism

Since 2013, with the release of the fifth edition of the DSM (the diagnostic-statistical manual of the American Psychiatric Association, APA), autism and Asperger’s syndrome have been united under a single definition of autism spectrum. The idea behind this change is that autism cannot be forced into defined boundaries, but that its characteristics (defined as “symptoms” in medical language) are distributed to varying degrees throughout the population, even among neurotypicals. When a certain number of these characteristics are concentrated in one person, and with such intensity as to negatively affect their life, then specialists may reach a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

In these terms, we see how the current clinical definition of autism is slowly approaching the paradigm of neurodiversity, that is, the idea that differences in the organization of our nervous system are a common aspect of the entire population.

The concept of neurodiversity allows us to look at various neurological, sensory, communicative, and social characteristics as natural differences in human development. In this way, when outside the clinical setting we move away from a purely medical-rehabilitative model, stimulating an interaction in which these differences are not necessarily perceived as deficits.

This idea has the advantage of making us observe the qualities and characteristics of other people without judging them as right or wrong. This also helps neurodivergent and neurotypical people to seek new ways of interacting that are the result of mutual exchange and understanding.

At Specialisterne we believe in the reciprocity of inclusion as a process that cannot ignore the active contribution of all the parties involved, so that differences can become an advantage and an opportunity for everyone.

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