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Posted 29 Mar 2019

The #neurodiversity debate – opinion from Tanya Phillips, Head of Criminal Justice

Thinking about Neuro Diversity

Those arguing in favour of retaining SpLD were concerned that terms like neurodiversity lacked public recognition and glossed over the very real difficulties that people had.  Those arguing for neurodiversity felt that SpLD puts too much attention on difficulty and learning, when strengths and lifelong experience are also relevant.

Having been at an event where over 190 countries attended in Abu Dhabi where 7500 athletes have a learning disability we all made a pledge that we would be people of determination. They promised never to use a word that negatively describes a learning disability again and you hear 7500 athletes and 60,000 spectators cheering and supporting the change you feel that you are present at the start of something huge.  That the perception and value of adults with neurodiversity is changing.

The name is important in a way you couldn’t possibly imagine.  I don’t want to be known as Autistic Tanya, Or Tanya is disabled.  I want to be seen as Tanya who is bloody determined and nothing gets in her way to evolve and develop as a person.  When you are stood amongst 60,000 supporters and 7500 adults that are considered to be people of determination you know that change is coming. I have not used the term disabled since. Neurodiverse is accurate but a person of determination is what I really aspire to own.

The Pledge

There’s a lot in a name… Diversity vs Divergence

The DSM V has a lot to answer for, for rolling Asperger’s into Autism…. Having used the DSM-5 in my recent research I can categorically say it can in no way identify Asperger’s one way or another.  I think the only name that remains the same is that I am high functioning. But am I as there are some things that I cannot and absolutely have no hope of ever achieving so does that necessary mean I am high functioning.  Wouldn’t neurodiverse be a better term in that case as it defines me as being neuro variable which I am for sure.  I get very put out if someone describes me as just being autistic because I have strengths you can not even comprehend and somehow calling me a standardised name somehow argues against that where as diverse is a more accurate term.  The long and short of it is that you can call me what you like but its how you say it.  I think this is the key issue here. I have given up on the Asperger’s v ASD debate.  Who cares? We are all just neurodiverse aren’t we? Don’t pigeon hole me to being in one grouping or another.  I am me an I am neurodiverse.

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