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The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain
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The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  575 ratings  ·  81 reviews
ADHD. dyslexia. autism. the number of illness categories listed by the American Psychiatric Association has tripled in the last fifty years. With so many people affected, it is time to revisit our perceptions on this “culture of disabilities.” Bestselling author, psychologist, and educator Thomas Armstrong illuminates a new understanding of neuropsychological disorders. He ...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Da Capo Lifelong Books (first published May 13th 2010)
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This is a well meaning book about an important topic that makes a case for inclusivity, positivity and adaptability towards people with outlier brain structure/mental processes. It is therefore very unfortunate that it is marred by poor and uncritical thinking about the scientific evidence in relation to the causes of these variations. Two major issues that crop up a lot in various contexts are reliance on "evolutionary psychology" and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) in psychologica ...more
Nov 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jun 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: psych, x-m, x-w, neuro
I wanted to like this book. I strongly agree with 'the idea' of it. Unfortunately, it really was that bad.

The author constantly reproduces stereotypes and supports notions that people actively fight against.

- he recommends ABA as effective therapy for autism
- he lauds the working conditions in sheltered workshops as one good "survival niche" for people with intellectual disabilities
- he not once criticises the organisation of work in society or of the imperative to 'be useful & pr
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Pretty good look at various types of neurodiversity (autism, dyslexia, schizophrenia, OCD, etc), how these traits might've been advantageous to our ancestors and thus survived in the gene pool, and how special education could be reshaped to take more of a difference view and less of a deficit view. While parts were quite interesting, the special education focus effectively distanced me from the book. ...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
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
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super readable. Good for everyone, particularly for those who work with children.

I love the concept of neurodiversity. I've long felt that my anxiety, despite the suffering it causes, is merely another "way of being" and not a disability.

Principles of neurodiversity:
1. The human brain is more like an ecosystem than a machine
2. Human beings and human brains exist along continuums of competence
3. Human competence is defined by the values of the culture to which you belong (consequently...)
4. Wheth
Sarai Martinez
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read. Explores the diverse ways of thinking and brain structure. The evolutionary importance of these traits and how they still relevant in today’s world. Psychiatrist and education policy makers focus on the deficiencies but often times neglect to help their strengths flourish. This book does exactly that. Gives ideas for niche construction but also encourages adaptation to the expectations of our own society.

For example, ADHD, characterized by decreased dopamine in the brain causing
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is well worth a read for anyone interested in understanding the neurobiology of learning difficulties and disorders. As someone with learning difficulties some of parts were things I had heard before, nevertheless the new information was very interesting and well-presented, and made me curious to learn more. In each chapter Armstrong covers a mental disorder. I liked that at the beginning he would cover the origin of the name (Greek, Latin etc) and when it was coined. Throughout he used per ...more
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
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
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
Nov 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf
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.
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Raghad AlKanhal
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why do we feel the need to label everything and everyone ? it is in the labeling of people as mentally retarded and not good enough for us that the greatest injustice is done. we focus on their difficulties rather than their strengths. The book offers a new perspective, where we start accepting others and believe that everyone is gifted in their own way. A great and informative book!
Aug 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!!! ...more
Jul 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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. ...more
Aug 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I learned about a variety of neurological conditions, though the autism section was the most familiar. I liked the intellectual disability chapter.
Mar 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I think I was expecting more from this book. It was written well, but I didn't learn anything extraordinary. ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On rethinking the medicalization of brain difference and the culture of disability into an understanding of a full diverse range of human intelligences.
This book needs to be read by everyone.
Mazen Alloujami
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look over psychiatric disorders and illnesses. A book for general public, not specialists.
Jacques Coulardeau
The author attacks seven conditions of mental disorder: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia. Why these seven and only these seven? What about the Down syndrome or other syndromes of the same type, basically genetic? But we have to follow the author to understand his approach that has to be limited to the cases he studies, and we are going to discover that some chapters are in fact kind o ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I like the overall message of this book, which is essentially that we need to put more emphasis on the various strengths and talents of those with so-called mental illnesses rather than framing them just around the negatives and deficits. There is specific discussion on seven types of illness/disability as well as more comprehensive discussion, particularly regarding "special education."

As a mom to a young lady with 2 of the diagnoses that got their own chapters and a third mentioned in passing
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like the basic premise of this book, and the 8 principles of neurodiversity are sound and supportable. However, I found some of the chapters over-simplistic in their presentation of complex challenges such as mood disorders and schizophrenia. Additionally, I am not in support of "identity-first language" (ex: dyslexic vs person with dyslexia), so the author's use of it throughout the book was a huge distraction to me as a reader. Regardless of his point regarding not using language that suppos ...more
Siobhan Lamb
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read for anyone interested in the Neurodiversity Movement, anyone who is neurodivergent or has a loved one who is neurodivergent, teachers and politicians. Armstrong has such a wonderful way of making the material very easy to read and relatable. He explains that we need to look at ND's from a strength based perspective (including depression) and discusses the idea of true inclusion. His book Neurodiversity in The Classroom is a companion book to this one for teachers with practic ...more
B Sarv
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me a lot of interesting insights to areas of Neurodiversity that I had never really understood very well. It was a good follow up read to NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman. I think people could genuinely benefit from reading this book. Specifically it gives excellent arguments against any efforts to revive eugenics and it provides the reader with the opportunity to broaden his or her mind regarding fellow human beings of all types.
Virginia Robbins
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Honestly when it comes to books on the "human" experience we kind of imagine this dull and nonending description with facts enough to lul-Cerberus to sleep. That being said this was not that kind of book. To be honest I would recommend this to everyone as I think we all could learn a little from the neurodiverse. ...more
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I am the author of nineteen books including my latest: If Einstein Ran The Schools: Revitalizing U.S. Education (Praeger).

My other books include, Mindfulness in the Classroom, Smarts! Everybody's Got Them, The Power of the Adolescent Brain, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life, The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advanta

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