The term “neurodiversity” was first used by Australian sociologist Judy Singer, an autistic, to describe conditions like autism, dyslexia, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in her 1998 sociology honours thesis. It was a deliberate attempt to shift the discussion of disabilities away from talk of deficits, disorders, and impairments. she highlighted the unique skills and advantages that come with different neurological ways of being. The idea of neurodiversity has developed into a political and social movement by autistic people.
Neurodiversity means that it is a normal diversity (variation) from the majority of the population so it can not be considered a disease. Neurodiversity model can also be applied to stuttering which means that stuttering should not be considered as an abnormality or disability.
Scientists have found a genetic predisposition for the development of stuttering. Furthermore, for this variation to be considered natural, it should not be caused by a random misfortune. Its continued propagation in the population should have some evolutionary explanation; that is, there may be some benefits to possessing the trait, even if they are not clear to us at present. A good example of this is sickle cell anaemia. As a well-known fact in the medical community, having Sickle cell anaemia trait protect the person from malaria. Thus increasing his/her chances of survival in malaria-endemic areas. Similarly, Autism and schizophrenia decrease the risk of cancer. So stuttering may also have some kind of benefit which has not been identified yet.
Neurodiversity model emphasizes that normal variation in neurology should be considered similar to the variation in skin colour, eye colour or sexuality.
If stuttering is considered abnormality, the focus would be on making the speech fluent which will not necessarily make life easier for a person who stutters. On the contrary, fluent speech may come at the cost of spontaneity and effortlessness.
Critics of neurodiversity movement argue that if the stuttering is accepted by the PWS, they will not work to improve it and thus their life will be affected by the negative effects of lack of good communication. But most of the frustration in the life of PWS is due to the behaviour of society towards stuttering and not due to stuttering itself. If the pressure of society is released, stutters can work on their stuttering with less tension and with fewer struggle behaviours. So accepting one’s stuttering does not mean ‘not working on it’. It is the responsibility of neurotypical (majority) people also to protect rights of neurodivergent people who are in minority.
In 2016, the International Stuttering Association used Stuttering Pride as the topic for the International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference. Workshops at the National Stuttering Association annual conference are increasingly focused on what people who stutter gain from stuttering.
Recently Honorable Supreme Court has revoked article 377 to protect the rights of LGBTQ community. This movement was started with the efforts of the LGBTQ community to demand their rights. Similarly we PWS will have to accept ourselves as neurodivergent instead of abnormal then only society will change its perception.
Image courtesy: http://www.insession.in/team-leader-microsoft-net/
Original article: Constantino, 2018 – Neurodiversity SSL_00698.pdf
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