A New Way of Seeing




There are those who, on seeing a glass half-filled with water, focus on the emptiness, and others whose focus is on the water that is filled. This analogy could be used to explain the neurodiversity model of viewing disabilities, in particular autism.


This model views autism as a difference but not a disability. The traditional model, a medical one, sees autism as a set of symptoms and deficits to be cured or treated. For parents, especially those who are newly diagnosed, receiving a diagnosis based on this model can be heart-breaking and extremely stressful. They are usually given a list of things their child will not be able to do, and then, told about all that they will have to do to ensure that their child fits into a neurotypical world.


The neurodiversity model, by contrast believes that while autism and other neurological variations (learning disabilities, ADHD, etc.) may be disabilities, they are not flaws.

It believes that people with neurological differences are not broken or incomplete versions of normal people, and they can live rich, meaningful lives. Simply put, neurodiversity is an essential part of the spectrum of humanity which exists in all variations of size, shape, skin colour and personality.


What appeals to me about the neurodiversity model is that shakes up inherent biases and beliefs that we all have about disability and disabled persons, and makes us view them through fresh eyes.


By restoring personhood, dignity and self-determination to disabled people, it breaks the idea that most parents of persons with autism have been given – of their children leading sad, excluded, bleak lives – and offers respect, and hope for a good life, where autism is just another way of being human.
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