CanFASD: Neurodiversity and FASD

The term neurodiversity first emerged in the late 1990’s. The term was coined by sociologist Judy Singer [1-3] and was first used in print by journalist Harvey Blume [4] with the goal of promoting the equity and inclusion of neurological minorities. Neurodiversity began with individuals labelled with autism spectrum disorders who wanted to be seen as different, not disabled [5]. This wider view focusing on brain differences instead of deficits offered an alternative view of disability in which strengths and needs are recognized as being present for everyone [5]. Since its introduction, the concept of neurodiversity has continued to grow. While many self-advocates and scholars have joined the calls to embrace neurodiversity, there is no shared understanding of neurodiversity, neurodivergence, or neurotypicality [6], and as such it is not clear what it means to be neurodivergent, and who can (and cannot) be considered neurodivergent.

The purpose of this issue paper is to introduce the concept of neurodiversity, identify some of the ways neurodiversity is discussed and framed in the literature, and present recommendations for considering FASD and neurodiversity.

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