June 8, 2010

Thomas Armstrong's eight principles of neurodiversity

Neurodiversity: Differences among brains are as enriching and essential as differences among plants and animals. In other words, 'disabilities' or cognitive differences are essential to the human ecosystem.

Thomas Armstrong has come up with a list of eight 'principles of neurodiversity':
  1. The human brain works more like an ecosystem than a machine
  2. Human beings and human brains exist along continuums of competence
  3. Human competence is defined by the values of the culture to which you belong
  4. Whether you are regarded as disabled or gifted depends largely upon when and where you live
  5. Success in life is based upon adapting one’s brain to the needs of the surrounding environment
  6. Success in life depends upon modifying your surrounding environment to fit the needs of your unique brain
  7. Niche construction includes career and lifestyle choices and assistive technologies tailored to the needs of a neurodiverse individual
  8. Positive niche construction directly modifies the brain, which in turn enhances its ability to adapt to the environment
Entire article.


ZarPaulus said...

#4, sanity itself seems to be a matter of opinion, though there are neurological disorders that are undeniably harmful like depression and hallucinatory schizophrenia.

Oh, and I've noted that trying to use reason to convince a psychopath to see others as anything but enemies or toys is futile.

Alan said...

@ZarPaulus: agreed on hallucinatory schizophrenia, but depression can sometimes be useful for correcting a positive bias in one's outlook toward life.

fallingupthesky said...

Just to play Devil's Advocate, might not it be that some societies are structured in such a way that some neurotypes, even if they're relatively normal, are a significant drawback? So even if they're not really "disorders" it could be useful to treat them as such to help people compensate for their drawbacks.

Some might argue that it's better to change those societies to compensate for neurodiversity. However, doing so could well destroy cultural diversity, which isn't good either.

Duncan said...

Alan: "depression can sometimes be useful for correcting a positive bias in one's outlook toward life"

Indeed, there is a lot of evidence favouring this hypothesis. Many humans experience a phase of depression in their youth, and don't succeed in doing anything later in their life. Or is this incorrectly assuming post hoc ergo propter hoc?

Alan said...

That's post hoc ergo propter hoc, yes.

Duncan said...

Alan: "That's post hoc ergo propter hoc, yes."

Do I understand you correctly?
(a) That not succeeding in life happened *later in time* than going through a depression (post hoc).
(b) *implies* (ergo)
(c) that there is a causal relationship between the two things (propter hoc).