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Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences
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Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  181 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Bestselling author Thomas Armstrong reframes the debate about neurodiversity, offering current research on brain differences while pinpointing the gifts of people with neuropsychological disorders.
ebook, 289 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Not Avail (first published May 13th 2010)
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I really liked most of the book, it has a good perspective and is very informative on some topics, but near the end he started to get a little extreme especially with his educational philosophies. He reviews several common mental states/conditions (including ADHD, dyslexia, depression, autism...) and discusses the typical strengths associated with each as well as the weaknesses. While it's true that many mental "conditions" can better be viewed as alternate ways of thinking rather than "disorder ...more
The author compares people with differences in the way their brain works (neurodiversity) to biodiversity or cultural diversity which are seen as important and good for our earth and society. Without downplaying the challenges these people face he illustrates how people with various neurological disorders have also been given some extraordinary gifts and talents and that when they are guided to the right environment through niche construction they flourish. Two chapters that intrigued me were Th ...more
Dale Gomez
Quick read that reframes some conditions to focus on the amazing gifts that also seem to go hand in hand with the shortfalls of these conditions. One problem I generally have with books like this is that they often miss the mark when they try to pull in hard science to support their positions. Case and point in this book is the reference to Jared Edward Reser's proposition that Down syndrome may represent an adaptation to severe maternal deprivation. Anyone with a reasonable handle on biology, g ...more
I would have like to see some questioning of the foundations of the mental health industries here, but as I found out the author himself has been on antidepressant medications for decades so he's not really going to rock the boat.

The book is a fairly high level, pop-mental-health tone, not like more technical stuff I've read lately like Blaming the Brain: The Truth About Drugs and Mental Health. It even has a list of suitable careers for people in each category of neurodiversity (Forest Ranger i
Jonathan Karmel
It is hard to argue with the central premise of this book – that we should look for and value the positive attributes of every individual. I also agree that people need to respect neurodiversity. Neurotypical people should seek to understand and appreciate people whose brains work differently.

I think the author approaches the subject from the perspective of psychology. He wants society to help individuals recognize and nurture their most positive human attributes. Even if an individual is mental
The idea of Neurodiversity is that the time and place a person lives determines what is viewed as neurotypical. In societies where children are expected to run and yell and play, behaviors that are considered inappropriate in other societies are viewed as 'normal' and these dichotomies lead to different labels. In cultures that value youth, imagination, creativity and action, a child with ADHD would thrive and teaching styles would match the way that child thinks. However, in another world, that ...more
This was a great book that challenges readers to see the gifts that are inherent in people whose attributes are typically viewed from a medical (deficit/abnormality) perspective. As an individual who works in special education (which all education should be), I highly recommend this book. At the start of this book, the author recounts how he would prepare for I.E.P. (Individual Education Plan) meetings by highlighting and summarizing every positive statement he found in a student's file. He woul ...more
Elizabeth Desole
Kudos to the author for writing a book that focuses on the positive aspects of having a non-neurotypical brain. The book is a nice start but on the whole came off as quite meager. His theories had a lot of maybes (maybe being overanxious was helpful in a hunter-gatherer society because...) I also found his credentials and facts slim or questionable. As far as I could tell, he is mostly qualified to make these assertions about special education because he taught it for a couple of years? Excuse m ...more
What I liked about this book was how it incorporated various mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities into neurodiversity. I'm used to the neurodiversity discussion focusing on autism, and extending to ADHD and dyslexia, but I've not encountered it going much further than this. Actually, the chapter on autism was really rubbish - it was based on very outdated stereotypes, such as autistic people not wanting to interact with people, and not having any empathy, and all being best suited to j ...more
This is a paradigm changing book. I consider myself an open-minded person, but this book pushed some of my stereotypes and assumptions right in my face. And I liked it. Armstrong explains the whole brains of neurodiverse people and not just their "deficiencies." Conclusion: everyone really is special. Warning: he does talk a lot about evolution.

I highly recommend it as a mind-opening experience.
A really easy, interesting read. Talks about a variety of brain-based disorders & offers a new perspective about how to think about them. Doesn't gloss over the difficulties, but helps to focus on the positive & strengths that people with these disorders often have. I also really appreciated how it listed specific famous people with each disorder & suggested potential job paths for those with each one.
This is a great book for any parent with a child who is neurodiverse. It puts into words many of the things I have tried to convey to the educators I have met. I have shared the introduction with my son's teachers this year. Excellent book!!!
The “neurodiverse,” and parents of the same, would benefit from reading about how to create employment & other niches that minimize the weaknesses & emphasize the unusual strengths of those who think different.
On rethinking the medicalization of brain difference and the culture of disability into an understanding of a full diverse range of human intelligences.
I learned about a variety of neurological conditions, though the autism section was the most familiar. I liked the intellectual disability chapter.
I think I was expecting more from this book. It was written well, but I didn't learn anything extraordinary.
Nov 18, 2010 Jamie is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
i find it refreshing
Betti Gefecht
I loved it, basically. The author's approach to explain the concept of neurodiversity and point out its benefits in not only 'special education' but simply EDUCATION is not only educating in itself, but also heartwarming, even entertaining. You don't have to be an expert in neurology or something to grasp it, nor is it necessary to have a special dictionary at hand. The writing is almost colloquial, riddled with lots and lost of examples and anecdotes, and special terms are explained right away. ...more
Holly St. Pierre
I absolutely LOVED Armstrong's exposure of the sometimes alienating nature of American values for non-neuro-typical folks. When someone doesn't fit the mold, they are overlooked or disdained. Everyone deserves to be valued for the strengths they bring to community.

He doesn't gloss over the fact that states of being like schizophrenia and depression can be miserable. Instead he brings an awareness of the potential gifts within these altered states of being.
A great book that has the very admiral mission of reframing the way that we look at disabilities, whether it be learning disabilities, ADHD, or Autism. It takes the view that these diagnoses do not indicate a disability, but only a difference. Armstrong shows the importance of looking at theses issues through a much more posititve lens. This book gives countless example of how these diagnoses actually indicate specific strengths, that when focussed on can be utilized to live a rich, happy life. ...more
A reasonably adequate (if occasionally weak or flawed) introduction to the concept of neurodiversity, but it has little to offer people already familiar with the concept, and it focuses excessively on ways neurovariant people can contribute to corporate hierarchies.

Much more a book about finding places in neurotypical society for neurovariant people, rather than ways society can be changed to enable neurovariant people to live up to our fullest potential. As a neurovariant person looking for so
Mostly, I really liked this book. I learned some things, always a plus. Parts of this book frustrated me or made me angry, not because of how or what the author wrote, but because he is so spot-on about the society we live in and the obstacles that face any person who is in any way "different". The author is clearly well-educated on the topic of neurodiversity, but really needs to focus on using people first language. In reading this book, I was repeatedly frustrated to read phrases like "the au ...more
Jeffrey Bumiller
While this is not the most thorough book I've ever read, it does serve as a nice introduction to the concept of Neurodivesity and the very important goal of seeing brain differences as assets rather than liabilities.
Becky Safarik
At first, I thought maybe this book would be a little to "fluffy", meaning: more touchy-freely opinion rather than arguments based on stated facts. But it quickly became a substantial read, creatively approaching these "disorders" from an atypical vantage point allowing the reader a fresh look at an old discussion.

Also, as a science person, I really appreciated his discussion as to how these "disorders" were likely maintained over time from an evolutionary standpoint. Armstrong is not attempting
Excellent book! Armstrong does not sugar coat the challenges of learning challenges, depression and other brain differences but does shed a positive light where one is seldom shown. It was refreshing to read about the "upside" of of these brain differences and also to consider how our society determines what we consider "normal". If we didn't have a standardized school system, I don't thing "learning disabilities" would exist. Then we could all just focus on people's amazing gifts and strengths. ...more
Adrienne Amborski
Interesting take on brain differences which in the past have been labeled as disabilities. Armstrong breaks the book into specific neurological disorders, including dyslexia, autism, and anxiety. Using examples of famous people who have overcome their brain differences to harness creativity and other talents, I found it reassuring that given guidance success is a possibility. Interesting and compelling, the science of neurodiversity has a place in today's society.
This book should be on every teacher's reading list. Even if you struggle with the author's semantics ("extraordinary gifts") there is a lot of worthwhile information to use in a classroom. The same goes for any parents that have children that fall into these labels. There are also some interesting commentaries about our culture and our future and how these brain differences will play out.
I thought this book was really well done. It opened up my mind to the thought that we don't often realize that there are differences in brains. Just because the majority of people's brains function one way, doesn't make the ones whose brain functions different;y unacceptable:)

Very interesting read~!!!
This book is powerful. It puts together many things I and others have thought about learning differences. It looks at these entitites from an anthropological, sociological viewpoint rather than our medical pathology based outlook. Brilliant, hit me like a ton of bricks. Can't wait to continue reading.
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Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. is the author of fourteen books including the forthcoming book Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences.

His other books include, The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life (, In Their Own Way, 7 Kinds of Smart, Awakening Your Child's Natural Genius, Multiple Intelligences
More about Thomas Armstrong...
Seven Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child's Multiple Intelligences Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom You're Smarter Than You Think: A Kid's Guide to Multiple Intelligences Awakening Genius in the Classroom

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