Saturday, 16 July 2016

My new book! NeuroDiversity: The birth of an idea,

Three years after the promising start in my previous post below, I've finally republished my Honours thesis on Kindle, along with a new introduction. As the publisher's blurb says:
Judy Singer is generally credited with the coinage of the word that became the banner for the last great social movement to emerge from the 20th century. The word itself was just one of many ideas in this work, her 1998 Honours thesis, a pioneering sociological work that mapped out the emergence of a new category of disability that, till then, had no name. And in the process, prefigured a new paradigm within the disability rights movement of the time. The work attempted a panoramic view of this new terrain from within a post-modern, social constructionist, feminist, disability rights perspective. Its chapters encompassed a brief history of autism, self-exploration of Singer’s life in the middle of three generations of women “somewhere on the autistic spectrum” and her research as a participant-observer on InLv, an online community of people on the spectrum. At the same time it offered a critique of what Singer perceived to be a certain tendency towards social-constructionist fundamentalism within the disability movement, which, she argued, limited the potential of the new paradigm. This volume reproduces the original thesis with the addition of a new introduction, which gives the background to the creation of the work and offers some thoughts on the current neurodiversity movement.
I hope the work will be of value to anyone interested in the early days of Autistic Self-Advocacy, and in the history of the Neurodiversity Movement and the controversies surrounding it.

In the introductory chapter of the book, I address some of the questions that I notice people are asking about me online, in particular whether I am really autistic, and whether I really coined the word.

Read a SAMPLE and the TABLE OF CONTENTS here 


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Why revisit Neurodiversity now?

A friend notified me that they'd seen my name in Wired magazine's 20th anniversary issue in Neurodiversity Rewires Conventional Thinking About Brains by Steve Silberberg

It's always exciting to be recognised, but when I googled myself, I found there was a lot of stale information sloshing about the internet, usually variations of the same three or four sentences which someone had put on Wikipedia and which were not quite right in the first place. Usually they including versions of this quote from my thesis "Odd People In: A personal exploration of a New Social Movement based on Neurological Diversity" which I completed at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) in 1998:

For me, the significance of the “Autistic Spectrum” lies in its call for and anticipation of a “Politics of Neurodiversity”. The “Neurologically Different” represent a new addition to the familiar political categories of class/gender/race and will augment the insights of the Social Model of Disability. 
The rise of Neurodiversity takes postmodern fragmentation one step further. Just as the postmodern era sees every once too solid belief melt into air, even our most taken-for granted assumptions: that we all more or less see, feel, touch, hear, smell, and sort information, in more or less the same way, (unless visibly disabled) are being dissolved.

So I want to set the record straight, return to the field, find out what's happening. I still have much to contribute, a whole body of work, articles and papers that barely saw the light of day, and an amazing life story to tell.

This is also about claiming intellectual space as an Australian, against what we used to call "US cultural imperialism". It still rules, apart from token film-stars and swimmers, celebrities whose main asset is their bodies.  Aussies geeks whose main asset is their brain need to be able to able to scrape up the plane fare to New York or London.

marks the spot where I start scraping