Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences

Overview


A new term has emerged from the disability movement in the past decade to help change the way we think about neurological disorders: Neurodiversity.

ADHD. Dyslexia. Autism. The number of categories of illnesses listed by the American Psychiatric Association has tripled in the past fifty years. With so many people affected by our growing “culture of disabilities,” it no longer makes sense to hold on to the deficit-ridden idea of ...

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Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences

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Overview


A new term has emerged from the disability movement in the past decade to help change the way we think about neurological disorders: Neurodiversity.

ADHD. Dyslexia. Autism. The number of categories of illnesses listed by the American Psychiatric Association has tripled in the past fifty years. With so many people affected by our growing “culture of disabilities,” it no longer makes sense to hold on to the deficit-ridden idea of neuropsychological illness.

With the sensibility of Oliver Sacks and Kay Redfield Jamison, psychologist Thomas Armstrong offers a revolutionary perspective that reframes many neuropsychological disorders as part of the natural diversity of the human brain rather than as definitive illnesses. Neurodiversity emphasizes their positive dimensions, showing how people with ADHD, bipolar disorder, and other conditions have inherent evolutionary advantages that, matched with the appropriate environment or ecological niche, can help them achieve dignity and wholeness in their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Armstrong (7 Kinds of Smart), an educational consultant turned author, argues that there is no “normal” brain or “normal” mental capability and that we are making a serious mistake in assuming that the kinds of differences we see in people with conditions like autism or dyslexia involve only deficits. People with these conditions also have strengths, he emphasizes, and by focusing on these, rather than on the “labels,” we can find the modes of learning and living that can help them thrive. Focusing primarily on seven “labels” (autism, ADHD, dyslexia, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, intellectual disabilities, and schizophrenia), He offers some good teaching tips. Yet while claiming not to romanticize, say, depression, his conclusions fall too close, as when he writes, “in some mood disorders, there may be a silver lining,” citing how Jung and Beethoven found creativity in the depths of their depression. In equating anecdote with pattern, he strains credibility. Armstrong is strongest in emphasizing that a broader understanding of neurodiversity will generate more respect and better results for people with the conditions he discusses. (June)
From the Publisher

Publishers Weekly, 4/26/10
“Armstrong, an educational consultant turned author, argues that there is no ‘normal’ brain or ‘normal’ mental capability and that we are making a serious mistake in assuming that the kinds of differences we see in people with conditions like autism or dyslexia involve only deficits...emphasizing that a broader understanding of neurodiversity will generate more respect and better results for people with the conditions he discusses.”
 

Times Higher Education Supplement (UK), 7/29/10
“This quietly spoken book is at its strongest when examining the ideology itself and outlining the arguments in its favour. It is sensible in examining how other cultures, past and present, have accepted forms of neurodiversity, and it is wise in its critique of the use of normative standardisations to identify objectives in education and society in general.”

Library Journal
Armstrong uses the term neurodiversity to encompass a new way of thinking about a variety of disabilities (e.g., autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia) by focusing on their potential benefits rather than problems. For each of these conditions, he provides an overview, examples of complementary careers, and stories of people who exceed expectations. In the section on autism, Armstrong looks at math savants and those with amazing memory to showcase what people can accomplish. While this is useful and uplifting for individuals staring at these lifelong conditions, it might be disingenuous, much like citing basketball great Michael Jordan's being cut from his high school team as an example of overcoming adversity. Just as it is not realistic that everyone cut from a team will be Michael Jordan, not everyone with autism or dyslexia can succeed in his or her chosen field. Examples used are from highly accomplished and highly functioning people with these conditions, so they do not represent realistic paths for many facing more debilitating conditions. VERDICT Despite problems, this is recommended for readers interested in all the facets of these disabilities.—Corey Seeman, Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738213545
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,052,280
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Thomas Armstrong, PhD, is an award-winning author and speaker who has written fourteen books, including 7 Kinds of Smart. Dr. Armstrong has also written for many publications and appeared on television and radio programs, including The Today Show and CNN. He lives in northern California.
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Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 Neurodiversity: A Concept Whose Time Has Come 1

2 The Joy of the Hyperactive Brain 27

3 The Positive Side of Being Autistic 53

4 A Different Kind of Learner 75

5 The Gift of Mood 95

6 The Advantages of Anxiety 115

7 The Rainbow of Intelligences 137

8 Thinking in a Different Key 159

9 Neurodiversity in the Classroom 181

10 The Future of Neurodiversity 203

Resources 221

Notes 235

Index 257

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