Neurodiversity: accepting autistic difference
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Neurodiversity: accepting autistic difference

Thomas Owren Lecturer, Social education and learning disability nursing at Bergen University College, Norway
Trude Stenhammer Director, SOR Foundation, Oslo, Norway

Thomas Owren and Trude Stenhammer explain why a more accepting attitude towards ‘autistic’ needs and behaviour may contribute to better services

‘Insider’ descriptions of living with autism in a world where most people are not autistic may at the same time inform and challenge a professional approach to what can be termed as ‘autistic behaviour’. This article draws on the perspectives of the ‘neurodiversity’ movement, people who themselves have diagnoses on the autistic spectrum but reject that autism is a disorder, choosing instead to fight for their right to be autistic. The authors include a case study to explore how such descriptions and perspectives can be applied to services supporting an autistic service user. They conclude that, regardless of whether autism is seen as a difference or a disorder, care staff providing services to autistic service users may need to examine their assumptions carefully if they are to avoid discriminatory practices.

Learning Disability Practice. 16, 4, 32-37. doi: 10.7748/ldp2013.


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Accepted: 30 January 2013