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Neurodivergent Voices

Disability Words

A puzzle of a person's silhouette with two pieces removed from area where brain would be.This is the first of 6 posts where Students voice ideas about neurodiversity, fitting in, and what it means to be included.Contributors are members of the course “Identity Exploration: Neurodiversity Narratives.” Enrolled students Emily Beauchamp, Katlyn Brooks, William Drake, Abby Jones, Katie LaBombard, and Sonia Shohet share insider’s views on current topics.

The course was unique because content was created exclusively by people who have ADHD, dyslexia, autism, and overlapping cultural and gender diversity.  

Professor Solvegi Shmulsky, Intern Steven Vitt and Landmark College Advisor John Elder Robison collaborated to facilitate this student work.  

What do you think about the word neurodiversity?

In an August 2019 speech at the Landmark College Convocation, author John Elder Robison stirred the crowd with a speech about empowerment for people who are different. Students in Neurodiversity Narratives watched the speech and commented on why language is meaningful.   

“The importance of the word neurodiversity is that our differences are natural, and we are all good at something. Neurodiversity is actually humanized.”


“Neurodiversity is what we are, not what we have.”


“The word will hopefully change the stigma around people who have a learning difference. I feel more confident in using the word "neurodiversity" because it doesn't have a bad stigma behind it.”


“We are able to reclaim that word and use it as a tool to empower ourselves. There is a certain power in getting to choose to use such a label to define oneself, especially when a label was once seen as something to be avoided or unwanted.” 


“The term neurodiversity not only helps us understand ourselves better, but it helps neurotypical people understand as well.”


“I know plenty of people who are happy with using disability or disorder terminology to describe themselves. I also know people who greatly prefer learning difference over learning disability. Some have no preference regardless of the semantic implications … Terminology that pertains to self-identity gets tricky because two people can have the same identifier in common and have vastly different opinions on what titles apply to them and what titles are offensive or inoffensive.”
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