The Power of Neurodiversity Book Summary - The Power of Neurodiversity Book explained in key points
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The Power of Neurodiversity summary

Thomas Armstrong

Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain

4.5 (37 ratings)
20 mins

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Summary in English:The Power of Neurodiversity by Thomas Armstrong is a book that celebrates the unique strengths and perspectives of individuals with neurological differences, offering a new perspective on how society can benefit from embracing neurodiversity.

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    The Power of Neurodiversity
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    A spectrum of competencies

    Amanda Baggs posted the video In My Language in 2007, amidst a growing autism activism movement. For the first half, there’s no spoken language – Amanda taps on objects, flaps her hand, and hums. The camera flashes between shots of her interacting with objects that move and clatter. She’s focused and engaged in this visual, kinesthetic language.

    Amanda has autism and is considered to be nonverbal and low-functioning. But the video seems at odds with this evaluation.

    Through her synthesizer, she explains, “The thinking of people like me is only taken seriously if we learn your language, no matter how we previously thought or interacted … It is only when I type something in your language that you refer to me as having communication.”

    The neurodiversity paradigm offers a more empowering perspective on neurological differences than the medical paradigm tends to allow. It challenges the idea that different ways of interacting with the world are incorrect.

    Many people who have been diagnosed with dyslexia rank highly when tested for spatial intelligence. It’s believed that the same brain differences that are responsible for their reading difficulties are also responsible for this exceptional gift of translating visual images mentally.

    You can imagine that in a world where students were tested on their special reasoning instead of their ability to read, our “smartest” students would suddenly become the ones with a deficit. People exist on a spectrum of competencies. How those competencies are valued by society dictates which are considered deficits and which are gifts.

    Amanda can’t communicate with people verbally, but she’s in constant dialogue with her environment. This is an example of what’s called “systems thinking,” a type of intelligence focused on interaction and the relationship between objects in a system. There’s a high correlation between people diagnosed with autism and exceptional ability in this form of intelligence.  

    And yet, when people see Amanda interact with things “wrongly,” they often doubt that she’s a thinking person. Amanda says “… since their definition of thought defines their definition of personhood so ridiculously much, they doubt that I am a real person as well.”

    Embracing neurodiversity means recognizing and valuing the vast spectrum of human experiences, just as we celebrate the vibrant richness of human culture or ability. By moving away from a deficit-focused medical model to an empowerment model, neurodiversity transforms difference into variety, deficit into advantage, and disability into possibility.

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    What is The Power of Neurodiversity about?

    The Power of Neurodiversity (2011) explores how reframing neurological differences as diversity rather than disorder can empower those with atypical minds. It covers the strengths of neurodivergent thinking, finding one's niche, positive adaptations, and envisioning a more inclusive world. It invites us to celebrate the brilliance found in all human brains.

    Who should read The Power of Neurodiversity?

    • Teachers of all levels
    • Parents of children with learning or cognitive differences
    • Anyone whose brain is wired a little differently

    About the Author

    Thomas Armstrong is an educator and psychologist who advocates embracing neurodiversity and cognitive variability. He’s the author of multiple books including Neurodiversity in the Classroom, The Myth of the ADHD Child, and The Human Odyssey. Armstrong's research and writing promote understanding learning differences to create positive change in families, schools, and society.

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