Why You Should Debate Neurodiversity

A close family member once told me that neurodiversity will never be mainstream because it’s not currently a “mainstream issue.”

While that was discouraging and irritating, it was also enlightening. I began to reflect on how the complexities of history show a variety of “issues” gaining precedence from the abolitionists to the first, second, and third wave feminists to the ending of de jure segregation to the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights, history has shown that normative cultural constructs are highly adaptable. And they adapt through three means: protest, debate, and legislation.

Protest is what can lead to both legislation and debate, and legislation is what can lead to more tangible and less attitude-based social progress.

But, today, I’m going to focus on debate. We need to be having more of it.


One way to inspire debate is through protest. As per my definition of protest, this can be the publication of works that challenge a widely-held narrative such The Case for Reparations and Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. But this can also be the organization of marches with autistic self-advocacy groups or the holding of vigils.

Civil Discourse

But another way to inspire debate is through respectful, civil discourse. And we need to begin debating and pondering neurodiversity in its complexity and vastness.

How should it apply to individuals with ADHD? How about individuals with dyslexia? PTSD? Depression? Anxiety? Should neurodiversity be all-encompassing of individuals under a particular label or not? How should it be applied in education, employment, and social standards? How should we change our labels, if at all? What is neurodiversity? What philosophies is neurodiversity based on (ie. moral egalitarianism, natural rights philosophy, etc.)?

These are just a few of the copious, possibly-infinite questions that one could ask about neurodiversity.

Exploring out Loud

They need to be explored.

That exploration starts with you. If you believe that neurodiversity should be embraced, pursue the questions above (and more) and debate them respectfully and thoughtfully.

If you’re neurotypical, doing this will eventually create a more fertile ground for effective protests in neurodiversity and thus more debate about it and legislation upholding it. 

Protesting is important. But it also important to debate and discuss. Those two things can carry microcosms of society further forward, and those microcosms can add up to large changes  that create fertile grounds for the effectiveness of protests.

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One Response

  1. I really loved this piece. At first, I was nervous when I only saw the title, but it makes a powerful statement. I can’t wait to read more from you!

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