Interview w/ Judy Singer, coiner of term "neurodiversity"

Page 1 of 1 [ 4 posts ] 

Mona Pereth
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 11 Sep 2018
Age: 61
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,912
Location: New York City (Queens)

26 Nov 2019, 7:29 pm

Meet Judy Singer a NeuroDiversity Pioneer: An Interview with the Australian Sociologist who coined the term ‘Neurodiversity’.

Excerpt from the beginning of that page:

Quote:
Many of us would concur that the term Neurodiversity is representative of the fact that differences in neurology should be recognized and respected as a social category, similar to ethnicity, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, gender, or disability. But most don’t know that Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist, first used the term Neurodiversity in her sociology honors thesis in 1996-1998 (and formally presented the paper in 1998). US writer Harvey Blume, with whom Singer corresponded with about their mutual interest in Autism, further popularized the word in a 1998 issue of The Atlantic, stating, “Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? Cybernetics and computer culture, for example, may favor a somewhat autistic cast of mind.”

Singer’s work on autism and neurodiversity became widely known as a result of her chapter “Why Can’t You be Normal for Once in Your Life?” based on her thesis which was published in the UK in 1999 (Disability Discourse, Mairian Corker Ed., Open University Press, February 1, 1999, p 64)).”


The Atlantic article referred to above is Neurodiversity: On the neurological underpinnings of geekdom by Harvey Blume, September 1998.

The Atlantic article also mentions Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical (ISNT), a parody website whose humor is explained here.

Some historical context: In the late 1990's, "Asperger's disorder" had only recently (in 1994) been added to the DSM. Many people in the medical and helping professions still had not even heard of even "high-functioning autism," much less Asperger's. Getting an adult diagnosis was even harder -- much harder -- than it is now, and many practitioners “thought that any lay person who mentioned a disability they had never heard of was being neurotic,” as Judy Singer put in the above-quoted interview.

Some more historical context: The first organization for autistic people, Autism Network International, had been founded in the United States in the early 1990's. The founding members were mostly not Aspies, but, rather, "high-functioning" autistic people who had had long developmental delays as children. See Autism Network International: The Development of a Community and its Culture by Jim Sinclair, who was also one of the first to publicly articulate an anti-"cure" stance in Don't Mourn For Us, 1993.


_________________
- My WP Friendship Board - Age 19 Onward post, November 2019.
- My WP Regional Meetup & Networking Thread Index post, August 2019.
- My WP "Getting to know each other" thread: Hello from NYC, begun October 2018.


Jono
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 10 Jul 2008
Age: 38
Gender: Male
Posts: 5,465
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

27 Nov 2019, 2:03 am

Please don't talk about Judy Singer. She's also the founder of a group called ASPar, which seeks to oppose autistic people from becoming parents.



ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 19,982
Location: Long Island, New York

27 Nov 2019, 7:19 am

Jono wrote:
Please don't talk about Judy Singer. She's also the founder of a group called ASPar, which seeks to oppose autistic people from becoming parents.

I need to research further to see if ASPar actually does oppose autistics becoming parents.

For the remainder of this post I am going to assume it’s true.

It is an inconvenient truth that many people who have done great things that have helped people had done harm also. This seems particularly true in autism history. Most of us know about Hans Asperger. Leo Kanner helped discover our condition bragged about not diagnosing 9 out of 10 children he saw and started what would become known as the refrigerator mother theory. Bernard Rimland was instrumental in debunking the refrigerator mother theory was an anti vaxxer who peddled quack treatments long before Wakefield.

One should not erase history. Neurodiversity has been a helpful concept and Judy Singer coined the term and created much of the concept as it relates to autism. We have not canceled Hans Asperger, we use Aspergers and aspie constantly on this site. We still discuss Kanner. We acknowledge both the good and the bad they have done. Unlike Aspergers Singer’s name is not in the term “Neurodiversity” nor is anybody proposing to build a statue of her.


_________________
Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 27 Nov 2019, 11:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

Mona Pereth
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 11 Sep 2018
Age: 61
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,912
Location: New York City (Queens)

27 Nov 2019, 11:26 am

Hmmm. Digging around for more info ....

I just now found the About page for ASpar. It would appear that Judy Singer advocates "practical support, pharmaceutical advances and publicly funded social services" for autistic people. This page also says, "Judy still believes the necessary level of personal care is something no child should ever have to provide for a parent."

Here, in a blog comment, Judy Singer says:

Quote:
Actually I’m the person who coined the term Neurodiversity, and prefigured the Neurodiversity movement, which came to pass. See http://www.wired.com/2013/04/neurodiversity/ or check it out on google. And I have enough Asperger’s traits and enough experience of bullying as a child to wear the label.

But I never intended my passion for rights for Neurodiverse populations to mean that everything neurodiverse was inherently good! How absurd. I intended Neurodiversity to mean that we need to see more clearly when not just other people’s behaviours but also our own are “hardwired” and respond appropriately. It’s a call for careful observation, acceptance and understanding of difference, but not a call for “anything goes”.

Neurodiversity is also a call for self-knowledge by Aspies. If you love to bury yourself in abstract thought, if you know you panic easily, have high anxiety levels, and don’t understand the social cues people are giving you, why would you even want to have children? Conversely, if you love being around kids, and know you have no aptitude for mathematics, why wouldn’t you rather be a school teacher, why would you even want to be a Maths Professor? It’s common sense, not some horrible eugenic plot

I'll comment later. Gotta run now.


_________________
- My WP Friendship Board - Age 19 Onward post, November 2019.
- My WP Regional Meetup & Networking Thread Index post, August 2019.
- My WP "Getting to know each other" thread: Hello from NYC, begun October 2018.