Neurodiversity – the idea that neurological differences (Autism, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, and others) are natural variations in the evolution of the human genome.
Neurodivergent people have brought many great things society. Attempting to “cure” future disability by preventing neurodiverse people from being born would be tremendously harmful to humanity.
Opponents of neurodiversity argue that neurodiversity conveniently ignores people on the spectrum who need extra help and cannot live on their own or are more severely handicapped by their neurological differences.
First off, many of us aren’t high-functioning enough to benefit from depathologizing autism. The neurodiversity movement doesn’t have much to say about lower-functioning autistics, who are decidedly less inspirational.
I want to clarify here why Neurodiversity does NOT ignore or exclude anyone.
What about people who are severely affected? How can that be a natural variation?
Thing’s aren’t that simple and I feel a strong urge to clarify what I’ve uncovered on this topic.
Neurodivergent people, myself included, tend to be more sensitive to chemicals and other environmental contaminants than the rest of the population.
Science suggests that autistic people may have weakened blood brain barriers, allowing toxins to flow into the brain during development.
People who are chemically intolerant often have serious reactions to common chemicals and some become too sick to carry out routine functions. Chemical intolerance affects about 10 percent to 30 percent of the U.S. population. Developmental disorders such as autism and attention-deficit disorder affect one in six children in the United States.
This puts autistic children at greater risk for chemical brain injury than typically developing children.
Though exposure to chemical may not be the leading cause of brain injury, it can be dangerous to healthy brain functioning. It is not easy to accept the fact that by just being expose to chemicals which are available in the places where we work, in the house, in the garden and in almost every place where we go.
There are different classes of chemicals that could produce substances which could be lethal on the brain.
Mothers with chemical intolerances are 2-3 times more likely than other women to have a child with autism or ADHD, according to a 2015 study.
If you’ve been following autism research in recent years, you have probably read—many times—that familial, or inherited, risk is seldom the whole picture. A few inherited genes are sufficient by themselves to cause autism. But most so-called “autism genes” only increase the risk that an infant will go on to develop this developmental disorder. As is the case in many complex diseases, it appears that autism often results from a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers.
This is where epigenetics comes in. Epigenetics is the study of the factors that control gene expression, and this control is mediated by chemicals that surround a gene’s DNA. Environmental epigenetics looks at how outside influences modify these epigenetic chemicals, or “markers,” and so affect genetic activity.
People with traumatic brain injuries often develop symptoms of Autism and other comorbid conditions such as sensory overload. The similarities are undeniable and the effects look very similar to autism and other natural neurological differences (although they tend to be more severe).
What does it all mean?
Some supporters of neurodiversity argue that people who are truly disabled by their brain differences pulled the short straw and are just unlucky in the neurodiverse spectrum, but this theory has never felt quite right.
Being neurodivergent does seem to be genetic and it may put you at a greater risk of chemical intolerance and brain injury. Neurodiverse children may be extra sensitive to chemicals in their environment – this could explain why some children develop more severe complications and comorbidities than others.
Only time will tell as modern science uncovers more and more information regarding the human brain and how it works.
So why do we need neurodiversity? More thoughts on the importance of this concept here in a post titled Why theWorld Needs Neurodiversity.