Neurodiversity and the advantages of autism-spectrum disorders in network building

Neurodiversity means accepting those whose various nervous system components behave as generally expected (neurotypical), as well as those whose nervous systems don't (autism, migraines, scotopic sensitivity, sensory hyperacuity, parkinson's, ALS, etc.).

One of the challenges in building an effective team and a useful network of people to work with is to reach out widely enough to reach some people who have a diversity of background and experience. Seek representation from all corners including people from large and small cities, from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, and with diverse religious, cultural, and economic backgrounds.

A parallel set of diversity-seeking looks to build connections with people who have diverse ways of perceiving the world. The neurotypical view of the world is best balanced with views from people who don't have nervous systems and sensory systems that perceive the world or act on those perceptions in the same way.

Neurodiversity is a word with some specific meaning within a community of people with autism-spectrum disorders, a community which I know only at the edges and can't count myself a core part of. In some ways I can only hope to approximate that perspective, e.g. in the occasional bits of assisted synesthesia that I try to sneak into my writing. If you are living in a neurotypical world, the insight from someone with diverse sensory perception can trigger the great weird ideas that you find when worlds that were once foreign to each other gain a bridge that helps pull good thoughts from one side to the other. Or, perhaps, I'm a neurodiverse individual in this collection, and you are neurotypical by comparison; it's so hard to tell sometimes.

Thanks to Linda Diane Feldt for the idea, and credit goes to Patricia Anderson for the source for the quote, attributed to the "Autism Liberation Front".

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2 thoughts on “Neurodiversity and the advantages of autism-spectrum disorders in network building

  1. David Feldt

    Interesting thoughts, though rather vague without an example or suggestion as to where to go to find such neurodiversity. It’s interesting to note that we neurodiverse types benefit regularly from the inputs of all of those around us, and that society as a whole has evolved with substantial neurodiverse contributions from artists, philosophers, inventors, academics, entrepreneurs, and a variety of eccentrics through the ages. Folks like Van Gogh spring to mind. I think the issue you may be edging towards is acceptance and incorporation of the neurodiverse while they are still living rather than picking and choosing from among their insights once they are safely locked away or dead. If so, well said.

    Reply
  2. Edward Vielmetti

    Thanks David! You found a better word (eccentric) than my half-understood
    jargon (neurodiverse), and so the next time I think about this I can say it
    with words that people know and thus examples they know how to draw from.
    My own experience is that university towns harbor eccentrics about as well
    as anywhere, though they probably dont have an easy way to account for
    eccentricities that dont have an academic grounding.

    Reply

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