NeuroDiversity: the Birth of an Idea by Judy Singer
Judy Singer is generally credited with the coinage of the word that became the banner for the last great social movement to emerge from the 20th century. The word itself was just one of many ideas in this work, her 1998 Honours thesis, a pioneering sociological work that mapped out the emergence of a new category of disability that, till then, had no name. And in the process, prefigured a new paradigm within the disability rights movement of the time. The work attempted a panoramic view of this new terrain from within a post-modern, social constructionist, feminist, disability rights perspective. Its chapters encompassed a brief history of autism, self-exploration of Singer’s life in the middle of three generations of women “somewhere on the autistic spectrum” and her research as a participant-observer on InLv, an online community of people on the spectrum. At the same time it offered a critique of what Singer perceived to be a certain tendency towards social-constructionist fundamentalism within the disability movement, which, she argued, limited the potential of the new paradigm.This volume reproduces the original thesis with the addition of a new introduction, which gives the background to the creation of the work and offers some thoughts on the current neurodiversity movement.