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

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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 argues that if they are a part of the natural diversity of the human brain, they cannot simply be defined as illnesses. Armstrong explores the evolutionary advantages, special skills, and other positive dimensions of these conditions.

A manifesto as well as a keenly intelligent look at “disability,” The Power of Neurodiversity is a must for parents, teachers, and anyone who is “differently brained.”

288 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 13, 2010

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About the author

Thomas Armstrong

71 books93 followers
I am the author of 20 books, including my latest book Childless. This is my debut novel. It's about a childless child psychologist who tries to foil a government plot to identify childhood as a medical disorder and then to eliminate it from the human genome in America. It's available at: https://amzn.to/3dBP0IY.

I've been working on this book for thirty-two years (honest!), so it feels more than great to have it finally reach you, the reader! I'd love to hear what you think of the book and to get your review on Goodreads!

My other books include: The Myth of the ADHD Child, The Power of Neurodiversity, 7 Kinds of Smart, Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, and The Power of the Adolescent Brain. I've also written for Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, and the AMA Journal of Ethics.

I see myself as a reader as much as, or even more than, a writer. Some of the books which I've enjoyed recently include Joseph and His Sons by Thomas Mann, The Story of the Stone/Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin, the complete Arabian Nights (3 volumes), translated by Malcolm C. Lyons, The Studs Lonigan Trilogy by James T. Farrell, and From Here to Eternity by James Jones.

Beyond literature and writing, my hobbies and pursuits include improvising on the piano, doing mindfulness meditation, watching great movies on The Criterion Channel, doing yoga, and cooking Mediterranean cuisine.

My next project will be a historical novel about a Buddhist monk who gets kicked out of his sangha in 9th century (C.E.) Bactria (Central Asia), and then gets picked up by a Viking longship in the Caspian Sea and spirited away to Iceland. It's going to be called Buddhamitra's Saga. I've loved both the nature and the culture in Iceland, including those great medieval sagas. I decided that this novel belongs in a new genre that I'd call screwball historical narrative (it's a hysterical narrative).

Married for twenty-five years, and now divorced, I live in a cute Victorian style home on a hill in Sonoma County, California with my dog Daisy.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 99 reviews
Profile Image for Robert.
816 reviews44 followers
January 6, 2018
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 psychological studies. I've done it before, but it's worth taking the time again to explain why YOU should be extremely sceptical of any conclusions based solely on these approaches.

Evolutionary Psychology, first. This used to be called socio-biology but it had to change its name because the field became so thoroughly and frequently derided by the rest of the scientific community. Of course, it should actually have just been abandoned, but too many people were making a living out of it and weren't going to take on the much more difficult task of doing real science. And that's the problem; it isn't science, it's making up random hypotheses to explain any specific human behaviour you care to name based on why it would have benefited Stone Age individuals or communities. There is no attempt to examine whether actual Stone Age people really did or do benefit, or to determine if there are any other equally plausible explanations. Since there is no attempt to test hypotheses, there is no attempt to do actual science.

Second, fMRI: There are several types of MRI and this is specifically about the "functional" variety that attempts to map the distribution of blood in the brain with high temporal resolution. The basic idea in psychological studies using fMRI is to put a person in the imagining machine and then ask them to perform a specific mental task, such as, to take preposterous example, think of a banana. One then observes which region of the brain "lights up" i.e. notionally starts using more blood. This is then the part of the brain that evolved to deal with whatever task was set.

There are two problems. The first is specificity. "Think of a banana" isn't very specific. Do you imagine what a banana looks like? Tastes like? Smells like? Feels like? Peeled or unpeeled? Ripe or green? And on and on and on. It's possible to deal with this by making the task extremely specific, e.g. giving a mental arithmatic problem. Even in this example, there is more than one method (visual, pure memory, etc.) So if you read about such a study, check if the task is even remotely well defined and if it isn't, discard the evidence - it's unsound.

Second, and even more damning, is the "dead fish" experiment. A research team put a dead fish in an fMRI machine and told it to perform various mental tasks. Of course the fish did not perform these tasks, being dead. Nevertheless, various parts of its brain "lit up." Which tells us that fMRI simply doesn't work very well for present purposes. Results can be random and meaningless. Hence if a conclusion ONLY has fMRI and/or evolutionary psychology evidence to back it up, it's completely unreliable, however plausible it might seem. A side note on this experiment is that it won an IgNobel Prize for being a waste of research money. Put a dead fish in an MRI machine?! What a stupid thing to do! Not so - this experiment is extremely important but you can be forgiven for thinking it is dumb if you only read a headline. So don't judge science from headlines. You will end up misled.

An important caveat about fMRI is that it CAN be useful for physiological purposes e.g. locating brain injuries. The main difference is if structures seen in scans persist for a long time rather than being ephemeral artifacts created by the algorithm used to reconstruct the image from the data.

The fact that I've spent so much time warning you, dear reader, not to take the scientific contents of this book at face value is why I can't really recommend it, despite for the most part being solidly in support of the author's overall aims in regard to social acceptance of diversity in human psychology. Very disappointing.
Profile Image for Chamzi.
35 reviews4 followers
June 7, 2020
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 & productive' beyond superficialities like it's sad that neurodiverse people aren't offered work more often, cause they make really good workers actually (what is a good worker??) and generally avoids all social critique except the most superficial.
- he represents autists as "Spock"-like, intellectually disabled as perpetually happy children, and so on
- he introduces schizophrenia as degenerative brain disease & utters not one word of criticism about either antipsychotic medication or the psychiatric treatment of psychotics
- he supports a biomedical, genetic understandings of mental illness or neurodiversity, with only the most minute lip service to the idea that some conditions might be a valid, logical reaction to trauma and adversity and neither 'natural' nor inborn
- he uncritically reproduces pop evo-psych/brain-sci ("male brain=logic; female brain=emotion; autism=super male brain, etc) without at least mentioning it's controversial
- he provides faulty analogies like we wouldn't [claim biological inferiority] based on skin tone, so we shouldn't do this for neurodiversity either where he uses racism as metaphor while ignoring/denying the ongoing reality of racism -- not just once but really often
- he recommends neurodivergent people to "find their niche", professionally and with assistive technology and provides mostly examples that are financially or socially entirely out of reach for most people
- heroes to look up to in the book are mostly CEOs, entrepreneurs and famous people

It's a superficial and exclusionary book, that does WAY more to reinforce the status-quo than fight it, and that is extremely sloppy about the science. There is no celebration of resistance -- of the ongoing activisms and struggles for social justice and human rights that are led by neurodiverse and mentally ill peoples themselves. It's a very "talking about/over" book. (Infuriatingly, the author uses the fact that he's a depressive himself as to how he's qualified to talk from lived experience on these matters... )
120 reviews11 followers
December 31, 2010
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 "disorders" or "deficiencies", that doesn't mean that there's suddenly a great moral good in refusing to make any distinction at all.

One of my mother's favorite sayings was "Normal is just the average of all the crazies" and she actually worked as an RN in a mental health facility. This author agrees, and so do I.

He taught special education for 5 years or so before leaving the field in frustration, so he knows a lot more than I do about education, and though I agree that the current system could use a lot of help I have to disagree with him on one point: he advocates teaching all students including the blind, deaf, nonverbal, gifted, "unlabled" and those with any other challenges including severe intellectual disabilities and emotional disturbances in a single classroom. Though I agree with many of his arguments, I doubt any teacher or even multiple teachers could actually effectively work in such a situation. (Though if it were possible or practical to make a classroom as "enriched" as he suggests without investing millions of dollars it might be possible to do with a team of teachers.) I also don't think in most cases you'd be doing the children a favor even if you could manage it, though he's probably correct that all learners would do better with an "enriched classroom".

One example: I've read a bit about deafness, and how many deaf children in the past suffered from permanent mental impairment because they weren't able to acquire language at a young age while their brains were still in a formative state. In some cases this was because the families wanted them to be "mainstreamed" and so tried to emphasize vocal speech and lipreading but the child never got fluent enough to truly learn a language, and sometimes the parents tried to teach some kind of sign or communicate in other ways but weren't entirely successful. Though there is currently a huge negative stigma associated with "institutionalizing" children with "disabilities", in many cases children who attended a school or boarding school for the deaf were much happier and more successful. To me, this makes sense. These children have the opportunity to be surrounded by people with whom they can communicate easily and directly, and have much in common with. Though those in a truly "inclusive classroom" may have some small chance of becoming so used to differences that they view something like deafness with tolerance, children in a good school for the deaf develop a strong and positive feeling of belonging and membership in the Deaf community, which remains meaningful later in life and they generally develop much stronger language and academic skills since communication by nature is clearer in an environment where everyone is fluent in compatible languages. Obviously in an ideal situation they would also have experience with the "mainstream", the family would learn sign, and they would have access to interpreters when needed, but severe harm has been done to many children by those who wanted to "mainstream" them at all costs. I believe all children are better served by personal evaluation of their situations and possible educational environments than by blind adherence to any on-size-fits-all educational solution, no matter how idealic. This especially applies to something like this "inclusive classroom", since though the concept seems great I would be greatly surprised if it was successfully implemented in real life, except possibly in an well-funded experimental situation.
Profile Image for Kim.
277 reviews
June 13, 2012
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 The Joy of the Hyperactive Brain and The Advantages of Anxiety - though I have to admit that there seemed to be far more identifiable gifts and potential career choices for people with ADHD than for those with anxiety. I also found the last two chapters on Neurodiversity in the Classroom and The Future of Neurodiversity fascinating. I feel like I gained some spiritual insight when I read this quote by molecular biologist Miroslav Radman: "Mutagenesis has traditionally been viewed as an unavoidable consequence of imperfections in the process of DNA replication and repair. But if diversity is essential to survival, and if mutagenesis is required to generate such diversity, perhaps mutagenesis has been positively selected throughout evolution." At any rate, I found the philosophies in this book refreshing and highly recommend it to anyone working with neurodiverse children.
Profile Image for Chris.
2,861 reviews204 followers
October 4, 2015
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.
2 reviews
February 10, 2020
What a let down. While the author appears to value neurodiversity, and seems to be trying to cast neurodivergent traits in a positive light, he resorts to perpetuating tired stereotypes, myths, and sweeping generalizations about neurodivergent people.

Although I wouldn't go so far as to burn it with fire, I also wouldn't recommend reading it either.

Profile Image for Lynne Kelly.
Author 16 books125 followers
March 9, 2023
I was particularly interested in autism, ADHD and dyslexia, but found all the topics fascinating. The research is really thorough yet the text is highly readable. A really excellent and important book.
Profile Image for Jeff.
290 reviews20 followers
July 7, 2010
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 is a good choice for both ADHD and "autism spectrum" folks, in case you were wondering).

I'm sympathetic to the idea that most of these "mental illnesses" exist along some sort of continuum (to the extent that any particular one exists at all), and that the mental health industries want to aggressively pathologize any "non-normal" stuff we'll let them get away with. So, it's good to read anecdotes about how people saddled with diagnosis ABC tend to be very good at things X, Y, and Z.

The bits about the potential evolutionary reasons for the various "mental illnesses" evolving are also interesting.

I'm not sympathetic to the idea that there are six or eight or however-many kinds of "intelligences", which he devotes an entire chapter to.
Profile Image for Stacy.
915 reviews19 followers
March 23, 2012
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 same child is constantly in trouble, struggles with school environments and can get negative labels at an early age. This book, as you can imagine, suggests that the positives are still positives - it's just the environments that are different. As a society, we need to see the positives in our brain differences.

It sounds like a 'be happy' and 'happy happy joy joy' book but it isn't. I also expected it to include commentary on parenting styles, but I'm glad to say it was missing.
Profile Image for Michelle.
21 reviews26 followers
January 1, 2016
Дауны синдромтой, аутизмтай, анхаарал төвлөрөх эмгэгтэй, Уилсоны хам шинжтэй буюу бидний "хэвийн бус" гэж үздэг хүмүүс түүхэн өөр цаг үе болон өөр иргэншилд төрсөн бол харин ч тэдний сул тал гэж оношлогддог чанарууд нь өндрөөр үнэлэгдэн, "жирийн" амьдарч болдог талаар олон жишээ дурдагдахаас гадна эдгээр хүмүүст таарсан ажлыг нь олговоос бусад хүмүүсийн л адил биеэ дааж амьдрах боломжтой гэдгийг бодит хүмүүсийн жишээгээр нотлоод хийж болох ажлуудын жагсаалтыг хавсаргаж өгсөн ажээ. Бид "neurodiversity" буюу мэдрэлийн (оюун ухааны (?)) олон талт байдлыг хүлээн зөвшөөрөх хэрэгтэй гэдэг нь гол санаа нь аж. Дээр дурдсан хүмүүс хэдийгээр өдөр тутмын зүйлсийг хийхэд бэрхшээлтэй тулгардаг ч, тун гойд авьяастай байх нь элбэг. Уилсоны хам шинжтэй хүмүүс хэдийгээр оюун ухааны хомсдолтой, ноот уншиж чадахгүй ч гайхалтай хөгжмийн авьяастай байдаг бол Аспергертэй хүмүүс юмсын нарийн деталийг олж харах чадвараараа ялгардаг (Валдог бол хялбархан олчихдог).
Profile Image for Abby.
Author 5 books16 followers
August 3, 2019
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. Whether you are regarded as disabled or gifted depends largely on when and where you were born
5. Success in life is based on adapting one's brain to the needs of the surrounding environment (however...)
6. Success in life also depends on modifying your surrounding environment to fit the needs of your unique brain (called "niche construction")
7. Niche construction includes career and lifestyle choices, assistive technologies, human resources, etc.
8. Positive niche construction directly modifies the brain, which in turn enhances its ability to adapt to the environment

Armstrong addresses 7 conditions seen as disabilities (ADHD, autism, dyslexia, depression, anxiety, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia) and discusses the "gifts" or strengths that usually accompany each. I didn't realize, for example, that people with dyslexia typically have enhanced visual-spatial abilities. He also covers multiple intelligences theory.

While I agree with the overall message, as another reviewer stated, we should be wary of drawing conclusions about what brain imaging shows us and about how traits may have been adaptive in the past (evolutionary psychology is largely speculative, therefore slippery).

The chapter "Neurodiversity in the Classroom" is inspiring, but was too vague for me. I am deeply interested in better serving my ADHD students, and I'm looking for something beyond fidgets and movement breaks. I feel like some of these students need a fundamentally different approach to learning, and I wish Armstrong (who has a background in special education as well as psychology) would write or collaborate on a book like this for the classroom practitioner.
Profile Image for Sarai Martinez.
19 reviews
March 23, 2019
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 the person to seek stimulation, possibly emerged to guarantee our species survival by helping the human race explore, be creative, and spontaneous. People with ADHD might be described with child-like behaviours. Regarding this, Einstein said that had he been more mature he would have not discovered the theory of relativity because grown men don’t look up to the sky and wonder like children do. Although children and adults with ADHD might not be able to focus and sit still for long periods of time they might think outside the box more often and be more spontaneous or driven.

The author those this for other “disorders” in the following chapters. He talks about autism, dyslexia, mood disorders, and anxiety. Finally, he goes into detail about the benefits of inclusion for everyone, not just for people labeled. Our country’s obsesión with standardized testing is neglecting important skills needed for the real world outside school.

6 reviews
February 20, 2021
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 personal stories as well as examples from scientific studies making it feel both academic and personal. Something I especially loved was that he described the exact biological structures and mechanisms of the brain and how they differ. The book covers these issues from all perspectives, parts are addressed to people with these disorders, others to people who help those with these disorders, with a full chapter devoted to teachers.

However there is a reason I gave it 4 stars not five: the Celebrity Name-Dropping Cliché. Hearing that x celebrity actually has x mental disorder is inspiring when you're 6 years old, but has lost its effect once you hear it for the 276th time. Additionally, Armstrong is very precise about professions that are appropriate for people with each diagnosis, which somewhat contradicts one of the book's overall points of not putting people in boxes.

Although occasionally a little annoying, this book is well research and engaging, and well worth reading even if you don't have any of these disorders.
Profile Image for Abby Wilson.
Author 1 book2 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
August 8, 2022
dnf-ed after the author advocated for aba without even mentioning any of the controversy surrounding it. he even uncritically called stimming “negative behavior” in that paragraph. i thought this was supposed to be a book about the positives of being neurodivergent, yet i kept stumbling on passages like that. the premise of this book is wonderful and it definitely has some really good parts and i believe the author has good intentions. in fact i loved the introduction to this book, where he stated his intentions and goals. but continually reading ideas that were misconceptions or usually regarded as controversial was not something i wanted to put up with any longer. if you want to know the details of these ideas, some of the other reviews have explained them very well, especially the one by chamzi.
Profile Image for Tyler.
147 reviews5 followers
April 17, 2023
This book is quite outdated now but has some great principles that stand today. Neurodiversity should be celebrated and appreciated. The author doesn’t try to downplay the difficulties experienced by people on the far ends of the spectrum but acknowledges that we’re all different neurologically, and there is no “normal” but simply falling onto a portion of the spectrum where the majority of the population also falls.
Profile Image for Jonathan Karmel.
363 reviews37 followers
February 6, 2012
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 mentally or intellectually atypical, society can still value the individual’s creativity or cheerful demeanor for example. While I think this is a wonderful theory, I think it is also a bit utopian. In essence, the author is saying “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” While many families do operate according to this Marxist principle, modern industrialist societies don’t. For better or for worse, we value the things that have market value. As a result, I think the ideas in this book are in fact gaining wide acceptance when it comes to recognizing the strengths of many people with ADD/ADHD, high-functioning autistic people and dyslexic people. In the modern labor market, these people may be able to find a perfect niche: the salesperson with ADD, the computer programmer with Asperger’s, the entrepreneur with dyslexia. But for others, the person’s positive value may not have a market value. People cannot necessarily parlay being creative or athletic or loveable into a job that pays the rent (although in some cases they can).

I thought the description of Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligences was very good (linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist). The older I get, the more I have come to appreciate this way of thinking about intelligence. Personally, I would score high in “logical-mathematical,” which is what is measured by the traditional IQ test, but I am average or below average in the other types of intelligence. I think that recognizing this has really helped me focus my self-improvement efforts in a way that is likely to increase my happiness in life. Getting back to my point in the previous paragraph, however, I think it is naive to believe that everyone possesses intelligence, and that it’s just a matter of figuring out which kind. Unfortunately, I think some people fall short in every type of intelligence, just as some people excel with respect to many types of intelligence.

Some other things I learned from this book that I thought were interesting are:

neoteny – retaining of childlike qualities into later development. The more evolved a species is, the more likely there are to be childlike features held into adulthood. e.g., curiosity, playfulness, wonder, creativity, flexibility, inventiveness and humor. People with ADD have a deficit paying attention to routine (and often boring) events that have often been externally imposed. But they excel at paying attention to lots of different things at once (roaming) and hyperfocus on things that interest them (homing).

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association fails to distinguish between those who become depressed as a result of a specific cause and those who become depressed without cause! That seems absurd to me.

In general, this book had a lot of good material on “niche construction” – modifying your surrounding environment to fit the needs of your unique brain. While it is important to change yourself to fit in better with your environment, it is also true that the environment is not uniform. You may be able to find (or create) a niche within the environment that suits you perfectly.
Profile Image for Dale Gomez.
54 reviews1 follower
May 10, 2011
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, genetics, inheritance, and evolutionary biology would know that trisomy(sp?) in nearly every case is an accident of nature (incomplete dissociation of genetic material during meiosis), not an inheirited condition in the traditional sense of genetic inheritance. Generally most trisomys prove deadly to the organisim. It is simply by chance that trisomy 21 results in a viable offspring. From an evolutionary perspective, it is far more likely that these individuals may not have survived long enough to procreate before modern civilization and medicine, therefore eliminating the prospect of any sort of selective pressure increasing the likelihood of seeing "the genes" more often in the pool. In other words, you would have to have had a long line of Down's syndrome people procreating inorder to even see genetic inheritance selecting for anything specific in Down's syndrome. What could be getting selected is a general cellular mechanisim that controls the compelete separation of genes during meiosis. Since most of these events result in death of the offspring, or an inability to have the mental capacity to raise your own children, Reser's proposition seems almost ludicrous to the biological community. Reser is mixing apples with oranges and trying to draw a conclusion as though you can compare the two. It displays a lack of understanding of biology that often seems to come up when psychologist try to jump into the realm with a limited grasp of the area.
28 reviews5 followers
July 8, 2022
I think the author is well meaning, but definitely misses the mark on inclusivity and it comes off ableist and misogynistic. He talks a lot about Asperger’s without mentioning that Asperger was a Nazi doctor or that Asperger’s is not actually a diagnosis any longer. He also talks about men being more system and logic driven and women being more empathetic without acknowledging the societal expectations and the way that girls and boys are treated growing up as being a factor in that. And that autistics basically have male brains that are very logic driven and without empathy. Overall this book reads as a privileged misogynistic man who doesn’t have a clear understanding of any of these disorders but may have done surface level research into these communities of people in an attempt to be not ableist. Any kind of in depth research into the autistic community would reveal how despised the term Asperger’s is. And how despised ABA therapy is and how traumatic it can be for so many people. He also really missed the mark on recommended jobs for adhd people, a UPS driver? Really? That would be soooo tedious! That’s like one of the worst job recommendations! He could’ve talked about ways to innovate a workplace or ways to find accommodations in a traditional workspace to help people thrive there. He also talks about how many adhd people hire others basically as personal assistants. There are not that many people who would actually be able to afford that! He completely ignores underprivileged people and minorities in this work.
Profile Image for Christopher.
101 reviews63 followers
December 5, 2011
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 would then share this with all of the participants at the start of the meeting. This was an effective way for him to shift the conversation to one of helping to maximize the individual's gifts rather than trying to re-mediate the deficits. This book does a great job of shifting the reader's perspective in the same way. A central tenet of this book is that successful individuals are those who can find or create a niche.
Profile Image for Michelle.
661 reviews6 followers
February 10, 2018
My full review can be found on the Epilie Aspie Chick blog!

Being diagnosed with a neurological condition can be a very traumatizing experience. I would know, I've been diagnosed with three in my lifetime (so far). With the doctors, medications, and coping mechanisms, it easily turns into a situation where you can feel like a defunct person - as if you're missing something everyone else was born with. You can start to turn on yourself in a really negative way and see it your condition as this purely terrible thing in your life that you live to overcome.

This book exists to combat that feeling and that common perspective. I've been recently struggling to see the positives in my Asperger's and Anxiety disorders - and this book definitely helped change my perspective to see things in a new light.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 5 books22 followers
March 17, 2014
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 something a little more exciting, I found this book to be a bit disappointing, and I was clearly not the audience this book was directed at.

Still, if someone unfamiliar with the concept asked for a "neurodiversity 101" book, I'd probably give them my copy.
Profile Image for Nanette.
Author 2 books6 followers
December 24, 2019
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 supposedly pathologizes these conditions, that doesn't mean that use of language that oversimplifies them into a person's identity is supportable either.
Profile Image for Aili.
132 reviews19 followers
November 17, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Emily.
396 reviews3 followers
March 17, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Ain Qaf.
7 reviews2 followers
December 15, 2019
در بین کتاب‌هایی که در مورد مدل هوش های چندگانه ترجمه شده و من خوندم این بهترینشون بوده فعلا!
چند بخش اول که مبانی و کلیات رو گفته بسیار به در بخوره ولی بخش هایی که برای استفاده از هوش های چندگانه در کلاس نوشته شده زیاد کارآیی نداره و ایده هایی که مطرح میکنه میخواد مدل هوش های چندگانه رو با وصله و پینه به اداره کلاس بچسبونه و نتونسته روشی دقیق و مبتنی بر این تئوری ارائه بده. هر چند خوندن این بخش ها هم خالی از لطف نیست و میتونه ایده بده بهمون...
Profile Image for Attica.
65 reviews7 followers
June 21, 2022
I love neurodiversity, I do believe neurodiversity grants us certain advantages over neurotypical people, but this is NOT the book for exploring these ideas. Armstrong fetishizes our diversities and offers nothing to NDs who aren't privileged by wealth and high functioning. There is no awareness in him of the real social issues facing our community, no critical thinking to prevent him from repeating harmful stereotypes and psuedo-science. Disgusting read.
Profile Image for Raghad AlKanhal.
7 reviews29 followers
September 22, 2016
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!
123 reviews
September 8, 2010
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!!!
Profile Image for Sam.
339 reviews4 followers
August 6, 2016
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.
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