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Is It Just Me?

  • Posted on September 15, 2014 at 8:56 PM

eBooks are the way of the present and will, I’m told, become more prevalent in the future. There are a lot of reasons why authors are particularly eager for the acceptance of the ebook. It allows them to reach out directly to their readers. As a writer, I share their enthusiasm—until I have to read one.

A friend of mine wrote a novel and published it as an ebook. I bought the ebook and began to read it, got frustrated, and then distracted. There was nothing wrong with the story. For as long as I could forget the screen, I could get into the story. Then it would be time to “turn” the page. It made it all-too-easy to put it down.

That was before my diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which means it was before I started to have to really think about what encourages my own productivity. Recently, I had two ebooks I was supposed to read for my course work. I tried and failed. I literally could not get past the first page.

One of the reasons for my failure is that the system wasn’t user friendly. The publisher who made the book available as an ebook clearly cared more about protecting copyright than they did about the readability of their ebooks. For example, I couldn’t access the ebook via my Kindle. I had to zoom in to see an eighth of the page at a time to read the thin, gray text. Every time I tried to scroll to a different part of the page, it reset me to the top of the page. It was a “horrid unpleasant” experience.

Another reason for my failure was that, inconvenience aside, I couldn’t concentrate on the text in this format. This is kind of peculiar, because I read text online all the time. I realized, however, that my brain has different modes for reading different things. The mode for reading novels is different than the mode for reading text books. The mode for reading online is different from either of them.

As I considered this issue in more depth, I realized that there are lots of things I have avoided reading online. If I get a short PDF, I will waste the paper and print it out. If, however, it is a lengthy blog post I’m fine reading, then it’s fine for me to read it online. I can read online news article just fine, but I can’t get in the right reading mode to really enjoy an online short story. This has been true for a long time and it’s become more pronounced since the onset of my fibromyalgia.

I broke down and bought the text books, because I realized that was the only way I was going to get through this class. I’ve realized that the mode I get into when reading course materials and fiction, while different, both involves being unaware of my surroundings and becoming immersed in the material. This is not possible when I’m online, accessing the material via my computer. I assumed my discomfort would change with increased exposure, particularly on the Kindle, but I’m beginning to wonder if this is just one of the quirks of being me.

I can’t help but wonder: Is it just me?

Embracing Differences

  • Posted on August 23, 2013 at 10:00 AM

It can be done.
I’ve seen it.
I’ve lived it.
It can be done!

Open your mind.
See who he is.
See what she brings.
Open your mind!

We can contribute.
We add value.
We add vision.
We can contribute!

We are here.
We live.
We love.
We are here!

It can be done.
Open the door.
Make the room.
It can be done!

Identifying with Difference

  • Posted on June 17, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Will is at the stage of his development where he’s forming his own sense of values and his own identity. In short, he’s a teenager. This process starts much earlier, of course. And Will, being both my husband’s and mine, has strong opinions and a will to argue the point. Even when he’s wrong. Even when we can prove, unequivocally, that he’s wrong. Facts are facts. He resents that when he’s on the wrong side of them.

I remember, as a child, being very similar in that respect. Don’t worry. It is possible to grow out of that sort of thing. Unfortunately, far too many people don’t.

Anyway, despite his will to form his own values and identity, Mark and I take our responsibility seriously when it comes to helping him shape those values and his identity. We look for opportunities and we snatch at them.

Will and I still read together. We’ve recently read Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead and have moved on to Xenocide. For those who aren’t familiar with these books, they are part of a series written by Orson Scott Card.

In Ender’s Game Ender/Andrew Wiggin is taken from his home at the tender age of six to join a military training facility where they train children to fight aliens. Ender exists specifically for this purpose: his brother was too cruel, his sister was too kind, so despite strictly enforced population controls, Ender was born with the hope that he’d be “just right.” And he was, especially after what they put him through. He was empathetic enough to understand his alien opponents, but ruthless enough to blow their digitized home world to atomic dust. After all, it’s just a video game, right?

In Speaker for the Dead, Ender is a grown man who has survived three thousands year, but is only 35-ish. Ain’t space travel a grand thing? He meets some new young people who have direct contact with a new alien race, but these people are still in the pre-agricultural stage and they’re different in a way nobody quite understands. He’s brought there to solve some serious dilemmas and to unravel some serious puzzles—at least, that’s why he comes. In the process, he starts a war to save the life of a young man who ends up on the wrong side of a fence.

Now, in Xenocide, they have to fight this war. The young man who ended up on the wrong side of the fence is suffering. The fence was electric, except more so. It was designed to create pain too intense for a human to climb the fence, but the young man tricked himself into climbing it and the experience left him with brain damage. So, now every time that character appears as the point of view character, his disability is a central part of the discussion.

All three books have stimulated important discussions. That’s why we read books like this together. But the disability factor is special for obvious reasons. It’s important to me that Will be able to see a similitude between not only himself and his less-functioning brothers, but also between himself, his brothers, and people with other disabilities (and other differences). For example, acknowledging Will’s initial reaction, “I’m glad I don’t have brain damage,” is important. Nobody asks for that, after all. It’s not what any of us want for ourselves.

But so is turning that statement around in two necessary ways:

  1. You have autism and that is not brain damage.
  2. People like Miro, who do have brain damage, are still people and still deserve to be heard, because they still have something to say, and you’re good at listening.

Do you try to help your children identify with those with differences that are different from their own? How do you do it?

A Guest Is Coming

  • Posted on May 25, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Perhaps it’s too early to be saying this, since I haven’t gotten confirmation of when the first post will be ready, but I have a guest blogger coming.  I hope to put her first post up on Monday.

I haven’t done much with guest bloggers in the past, but I strongly believe that a key ingredient to productive dialogue is to get two or more people with different points of view to discuss their similarities and differences in a respectful manner.  The objective is not to change people’s minds, but to expand them: to fill in gaps of knowledge we may not even know we have, to correct misinformation we think is true, to share different points of view, and to find—if possible—middle ground we can walk together, and, when that’s not possible, to agree to disagree on those things we disagree on and to agree to cooperate on those things we agree on.

Granted, this is not always possible.  I remember all too well some of the recent debacles in exchanging points of view in the greater autism community.  But I believe I’ve found a stimulating guest who is genuinely interested in sharing her knowledge and learning from those who respond—both “ingredients” are necessary, I think.

She’s a researcher.  She’s “for” curing autism, though what she means by that may not be what I (we?) assume she means by that.  She’s also “for” neurodiversity, though, again, what she means by that may not be what I (we?) mean by that.  Really, she’s for improving the lives of those with autism, and she wants to learn—from parents and people with autism—what that means and what it doesn’t mean.  And that, if nothing else, is something we have in common.  How we view the issues of autism may be different, and I already know that some of them are, but our hope (though, not necessarily our goals) is similar.  That’s something we can build upon.

How this will work, then, is for me to post (unedited) her point of view.  Moderated discussion will ensue (I hope): no disrespectful, mean, derogatory, or troll-like comments allowed.  You can disagree.  You can disagree adamantly.  But do so respectfully, on topic—and definitely not “on person.”  Then, I’ll respond in a post of my own.  This exchange will go back and forth—we’re not sure how long.  We’ll see how it goes.  Again, comments will be moderated.  Be respectful and civil and you’ll get through.  Be a spammer or a troll, and you won’t.  I hope you enjoy this new endeavor!

BADD 2011: A Glimpse of Success

  • Posted on May 1, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Perhaps it’s the timing, perhaps it’s my unpreparedness, but I’m going to share a recent, deceptively simple success story.  The Goldfish hosts Blogging Against Disablism Day on May 1st every year, as she has for several years now.  So, you’d think I would be prepared.  You’d think I would realize that BADD is coming up fast.  Unfortunately, considering my hiatus and the time it’s taken me to get back in the swing of trying to keep track of all the blogs I enjoy reading, I find myself caught a bit unprepared.  Normally, I would take this as an opportunity to veer away from the easy-come-easy-go of family anecdotes, and concentrate on something deep and important.  But, maybe, I can do both.  Either way, yesterday (Saturday, April 30th), is worth writing about.

As some may know and many probably don’t, I’m the mother of three children with autism, I’m the wife of a man with a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, I have diagnoses of depression and OCD myself, and both my husband and I are somewhere near the autism spectrum too.  Our disabilities are not physical.  You cannot look at us and say, “Hey, now those people are disabled!”  (For those who don’t get the point of this who BADD thing, you shouldn’t be saying that anyway, but that’s not my point.)  The point is, in big ways and in small ways, I find myself constantly advocating for the need for accommodations and for advocacy itself.

{I’m not, by any means, trying to suggest that people with physical disabilities have it easier.  I am well aware that just because a need is readily apparent, doesn’t mean it will be considered or accommodated.  I still remember, quite clearly, and in part from expanding my personal blogging community to a wider array of disabilities, the moment I looked at one of those bathrooms—you know, the ones with the sign—and realized that no matter how accessible it was inside, there was no practical way for someone in a wheelchair to OPEN THE DOOR independently.  I remember the light coming on in my head.  I remember that moment of insight, and the indignation that followed, with “How dare they advertise this as accessible!” reverberating through my skull.  And, while that incident was special for me, in the sense that it got my mind to shift, it was far from an isolated incident.  So, I’m not belittling the advocacy needs of those with physical disabilities.}

I do, however, get so very tired of having to justify over and over and over and over again why my family has advocacy needs to people who just don’t get it.  It is tiring.  It is exhausting.  And sometimes small moments of ease are the only things that keep me going, keep me hoping.

So, what does that look like?  Success?  Ease?

Yesterday (Saturday, April 30th), my husband had some friends over to do some role-playing.  This is something they try to do every weekend.  Like a guy’s night in, instead of a guy’s night out.  So this, in and of itself, was nothing extraordinary.  One of the guys is a long-time family friend.  He was at our wedding.  Our kids are good friends; they’ve grown up together.  His wife has been a therapist for our children.  They’ve babysat.  Or, to be brief, he knows what he’s getting into when he comes over.  The other two are newer.  They’re both a bit odd (for me, that’s a compliment), but they’re odd in ways that are not our ways (which is just fine with me).  And so, again to be brief, they still really don’t know what they’re getting into when they come over to our house, but they’re willing to risk it.

We usually have a bit of preparation for these nights.  We know the day is coming.  We build up to it.  It’s usually on Fridays.  And, well, this time we really didn’t and it wasn’t.  Or, to be brief, it was not an ideal situation.

Mark’s sleep-cycle was wonky and the kids were a bit wild.  Usually, this would be a problem.  For your random individual (or group), this would be a problem.  Surprisingly, this time, it was all okay.  It worked.  The night was a success.  (The gaming was not so much, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing for a whole ‘nother blog, which I’m not going to write, but hey—role-playing can be tough.  It is, after all, storytelling, but with free will.)

This is not to say there weren’t problems.  Mark fell asleep twice during the night.  The boys’ had issues that needed to be dealt with, including Willy not wanting to play anymore, including Ben trying to push a chair down the stairs, including Alex pinching our guests.  And, well, a complete list isn’t the point.  There were issues.

But they weren’t a problem.

Novel, I know, but it’s true.  The boys’ needs were discussed, as they often are around people who haven’t known them long enough to be fully versed, but they weren’t an “issue.”  Everyone just sort of went with the flow and it worked.  When explanations were necessary, they were given, they were accepted, and we moved on.

It wasn’t:  WOW!  YOU PEOPLE ARE WEIRD!  It wasn’t even:  MY FAMILY IS DIFFERENT AND THAT’S OKAY.  It just was.

And, for me, that’s success.  Explanation.  Acceptance.  Move on.

Maybe it’s lack of imagination, but I really don’t envision a time where everyone just understands.  I communicate with a lot of people with a lot of different kinds of differences, from disability-related differences to faith-based differences, cultural, racial, life-style…and on and on.  I try hard, but I don’t just understand.  I need things explained to me.  I need the stories.  I need the shared-experiences.  I need those moments of insight.  And I expect that I always will.  I don’t think that’s just me, either.

The thing of it is, I do believe there will come a time when everyone—or at least the majority of people—will be open to having things explained, to listening to others’ stories, to sharing experiences, to moments of insight.  I think that will happen.

And it’s going to look a bit like last night did.  An easy, comfortable exchange; welcome to my life, beware of the pinching; yes, we have alarms on our doors, because our children will go out to look at the cars…the ones that are moving.  This is our life.  We’re open to sharing it.  But it’s so nice when our differences are not a big deal.  They just are.

Bullying (Part 10): Power in Hierarchies

  • Posted on November 20, 2010 at 6:17 PM

As I suggested in my last post, I believe power is a necessary social force that is prone to corruption.  Bullying is one form of this corruption.

Bullying for the sake of power is a form of bullying to which we are all susceptible.  The only way to avoid it completely, if that’s even possible, would be to become so powerful that you were too entrenched to be bullied.  Of course, to get that kind of entrenched power you’d be part of the problem, not part of the solution.

To say we are all susceptible does not mean we all experience it, or that we all experience it to the same degree.  It means a life well-lived, a person well-liked, and a situation secured by socially acceptable means cannot protect one from this form of bullying.  You can do everything “right” and still be bullied.

For those of us who do not or cannot do everything “right,” by which I mean we cannot or do not adhere to social standards, this form of bullying seems to be even more common.  I suspect this has more to do with lack of power than targeting differences.  Simply put, we’re lower on “the pecking order,” and therefore have more people with the power to bully us.  I say this because those who are different but have their own power base are not subject to as much of this kind of bullying; furthermore, as I have gained a larger power base, I have been subjected to less of this kind of bullying.

Pecking orders, or social hierarchies, can be established in just about any social system.  They are often systemized in organizations.  In the management of organizations, this systemization acts as structure—assuming the competence of members, bullying is unnecessary.  Commands filter through the hierarchal structure, and those commands are carried out based on the authority of those issuing the commands.  However, not all members of the structure are competent.  Thus, bullying occurs.  When the authority of the individual is not sufficient to earn obedience, the manager may resort to bullying to get things done.  Lack of management skills or lack of competence in exercising one’s role in a particular position is often the culprit.  Instead of improving his or her management style, the manager relies on bullying the employees under him or her to get the results he or she desires.  In the short term, this can work.  So, bullying goes in the toolbox.  In the long term, it creates a toxic environment that damages the manager, the employees, and the organization.

Social hierarchies also happen outside organizations and in more informal organizations.  You see the childhood version of this in cliques at school.  One of the boys or girls in the clique is in the top position, as tenuous as that is, and leads the others.  Bullying behaviors are often used to maintain such a position.  These behaviors also can continue into the adult world, depending on the social situations you choose to involve yourself in.  It can happen in families as well.

Bullying for the sake of power—either to gain more power or to secure the power one has—can be found in any such social hierarchy, and all of us are touched by these hierarchies.  Addressing this dynamic depends less on where it occurs, or even why, but depends more on how it occurs, from the bullies’ perspectives, which I will cover in more detail in my next post.

Bullying (Part 8): Bullying Differences – The Solution

  • Posted on November 12, 2010 at 12:00 PM

In my previous post, I discussed the problem.  It is my opinion (it would by a hypothesis if I had the means and training to test it), that much of bullying based on prejudice stems from systemic flaw:  A “foreign” element is introduced into an environment that is perceived to be homogenous without the people within the environment having the skills to cope with the disturbance.  (This intentionally excludes the harassment and abuse that stems from prejudice, which involves much more violent intentions and, presumably, must stronger feelings and weaker morals.)

Two things stand out to me in this statement.  First, it is based on perception.  A group is perceived to be homogenous, and the “foreign element” is perceived to not fit within that homogenous group.  The reality is that we’re all different.  Homogenous groups are a matter of perception, not reality; thus if we change the perception of those individuals within the group and open their minds to the differences that already exist within the seemingly homogenous group, then I expect “new” differences would seem less threatening—after all, they’ve already worked with people who are different, they just were not aware of all the differences.  Second, the people within the seemingly homogenous group lack the skills to cope with other differences.  I believe both are cultural problems, or problems that have been culturally reinforced.

Rugged Individualism is a standard concept in American culture.  We cherish our individuality, or so it’s claimed.  But, personally, I’ve never really understood that claim.  The American Melting Pot isn’t about difference, but about sameness and integration.  While we are a nation of immigrants, those immigrants are expected to conform.  The individuals raised in public education are taught to conform.  Conformity and homogeneity are prized values that make our social system run; yet, our beliefs in freedom are in direct conflict with those values of conformity and homogeneity.  Instead of addressing that conflict and finding a harmonious way to create a nation based on diversity, we convince ourselves we’re “rugged individualists” despite the evidence to the contrary.

Difference is bad.  We fight differences.  We try to find a way, either by forcing “foreign elements” to change or by tricking ourselves that differences aren’t real.  We want to think everyone is the same or should be the same.  But equality, the value we espouse, isn’t about sameness; it’s about rights, opportunities and responsibilities.

Recently, Dave Hingsburger addressed a related topic:

Why do I mention disability so much in my workshop? Cause I want to say, ‘but ya are Blanche, ya are!’ Difference, Diversity, Disability ... all part of the vastness of the social world, all part of the vastness of the human experience, all part of the whole community. Difference, Diversity, Disability ... we make community and the community would be less without us. Difference, Diversity, Disability ... we bring with us challenge and demand for change, just like every single other member of every single other community. We are the same in what we want, but we are proudly different of who we are when asking.

We shouldn’t have to hide our differences or whisper about them in dark corners.  The differences are real, and we’re all richer for it—if we’d just let ourselves be.

I believe that if we can bring our differences to the conscious level—if we can look at them and see them for what they are—then maybe we could see them without regarding them as a threat.  Instead, as a society, we try not to see them.  We ignore them whenever and however we can.  And when we can’t, we fight them, disparage them, and exclude those who force us to look at them.

We need to be able to deal with differences.  We need to be able to see them, to cope with them, to tolerate them, and to accept them.  We need to be able to work together—in our communities and in our workplaces—without being threatened by the diversity that is all around us.

And our society—our school systems and our social values—have failed us in this regard.  But awareness is rising and changes are demanded from many groups and many sectors.  Changes are happening.  Diversity training is part of that change.  It is, when done effectively, a very important part of that change.

And yet we resist.  Because so many of us don’t want to have to change.  I mean, why should we change?  Really?  Can’t he just stop wearing glasses?

For so long, our society has relied on changing those who were different or hiding and excluding those they could not change.  But that solution won’t be tolerated any more.  Instead, we must brave face our differences and find it within ourselves to embrace them.  After all, those differences are in each and every one of us.  If we could only let ourselves see them.

Should We Label Characters?

  • Posted on September 25, 2010 at 12:09 AM

I recently watched A Wrinkle in Time, a movie based on Madeleine L’Engle’s book of the same name.  Watching this movie brought back memories of my childhood, when I fell in love with L’Engle’s characters.  I remember finding in Meg a character sufficiently off-beat and unsure that I could truly identify with her—yet also courageous and powerful enough that I could look up to her and aspire to do what she did.  It was something of a pivotal moment for me, realizing that however different I seemed from my peers there was someone, somewhere who understood well enough to create a character that resonated so perfectly with me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love stories and I delve into them heart and soul.  I loved reading about the adventures of Lucy and her siblings in the Chronicles of Narnia or Bilbo and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, among many, many others.  I live and breathe these stories with a sense of reality that sometimes intrudes on the real world.  These stories are why I became a writer.  I hope to write stories that captivate people in a similar way, providing them with an enriching escape that helps them return to the real world better people for the experience of it.

But as much as I would attach myself to these characters I didn’t identify with them the way I identified with Meg.  I’ve read hundreds of books and seen hundreds of movies.  I’ve watched a few television shows in their entireties.  Often this is a form of escape—not so much to get away from my life, but to get away from my sense of reality.  But in all these stories there are so few that resonate with me the way Madeleine L’Engle’s stories have done. 

So many characters seemed just a little too connected with their world—whatever world that happened to be.  Even the outsiders (God, I love outsiders!) fit in just a little too well.  But then there’s Meg.  She doesn’t fit.  Even when, as an adult, she merges, she doesn’t really fit.  She’s different.  And, at first, she’s uncomfortable being different.  But she grows into herself, into her differences.  That’s something I could identify with and aspire to long before I had any clue of the nature of my differences.

There’s a temptation among some people I admire to attribute neurotypes to characters and historical persons.  As much as I respect their desire to do so, I think that such labels may be a little bit misguided.  In the past, I’ve watched Bones and saw how Aspie-ish Dr. Brennan is.  And maybe she is.  Maybe, whether her creator intended it or not, Dr. Brennan could be labeled an Aspie.  Maybe, whether L’Engle intended it or not, Meg could be labeled an Aspie.  Charles Wallace certainly has some rather pronounced traits that suggest an autism spectrum neurotype.

As tempting as using such labels is, I feel that maybe we should resist the temptation.  Maybe the label is not the point.  Maybe it’s not necessary.

Human diversity is a vast thing that encapsulates each and every one of us.  Neurological diversity is a vast thing that encapsulates each and every one of us.  While our cultures and societies may try to cut diversities up into segments—some being desirable and valued and others being unfortunate and unworthy—diversity doesn’t really work that way.

Characters like Meg and Dr. Brennan help their audiences see that people really are different, and that those differences can be a source of a character’s strengths even as they represent weaknesses.  Balancing strengths and weaknesses is actually something of a rule in writing, because it more accurately reflects human nature than flawless characters or pure villains do.

And maybe that’s enough.  Maybe it’s enough that we recognize that people—and the characters patterned after people—are different, each and every one of us.  Maybe we don’t need a label to summarize those differences so much as we need a willingness to attach ourselves to the others that surround us.

The True Meaning of Diversity

  • Posted on February 20, 2010 at 3:18 AM

“The true meaning of valuing diversity is to respect and enjoy a wide range of cultural and individual differences, thereby including everybody,” (The Fundamentals of Organizational Behavior, 4th ed., by Andrew J. DuBrin, 2007, pg. 381).

Diversity goes beyond recognizing that we are different in measurable ways.  Diversity goes beyond tolerance.  Diversity goes beyond offering assistance to excluded individuals.  Diversity is about inclusion.

In some sense, I have ignored those diagnosed with Asperger’s who object to being lumped into the same diagnostic category as my children.  Their words, their behavior—it’s beneath my contempt, it makes me angry, and it’s so hypocritical, so absurd that it really doesn’t warrant a response.  Except it does, because there are those who claim their words represent neurodiversity.  It got that response from people much more influential than I.

This post is not about them, though the words I write could apply.  This about what I consider the fundamentals of neurodiversity to be.

Consider the difference between cultural diversity and affirmative action.  Both seek to include people with different racial, ethnic, and national profiles in the workplace.  One does so by focusing on differences and disadvantages.  The other focuses on similarities and strengths.  One assumes that those who weren’t born white Americans need help getting a job.  The other assumes that everyone needs opportunities and can add value to a firm.

Neurodiversity is to cultural diversity what empowerment is to affirmative actionNeurodiversity and empowerment parallel each other in many respects; but, they are not synonyms, they are not the same.  Both have their place, but they are not the same.

Neurodiversity is not about services, accommodations, treatment methods, or any of the issues that are often in the forefront of our dialogues.  People who believe in neurodiversity do not share the same opinion about all of these things.  Those issues are not the essence of neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity is about two things:

1) People are naturally and normally neurologically different.  Some of these natural, normal differences are labeled “abnormal,” “disorders,” “syndromes,” or other value-laden labels that interferes with our ability to understand the different subsets of human neurology.

2) Human beings are valuable, in all their diversity, in and of themselves.

This means:

1) You cannot claim to value diversity and claim to be superior.  Those two statements cannot be combined without the use of a logical fallacy.  It would not, however, invalidate a claim to value diversity if you are struggling with feelings of superiority.

2) You can claim to value diversity and yet desire assistance, accommodations, and/or medical treatments.  The use of assistance, accommodation, and/or medical treatments does not invalidate a claim of valuing diversity.

3) You cannot claim to value diversity and claim to be inferior.  Those two statements cannot be combined without the use of a logical fallacy.  It would not, however, invalidate a claim to value diversity if you are struggling with feelings of inferiority.

4) You can claim to value diversity and dislike specific people because of the things they say or do that are within their control.  For example, you can dislike someone who bullies you and still value diversity.

5) You cannot claim to value diversity and dislike individuals or groups based on traits beyond their control.  For example, you cannot dislike someone who embarrasses you by having a seizure in public and still value diversity.

6) You can support the research of human differences and still value diversity.  For example, you can support the research into the various causes of autism and still support neurodiversity.

7) You cannot support the forced eradication of a group based on an undesirable trait and still value diversity.  For example, you cannot support diversity and research a way to identify and eliminate autistic fetuses.

8) You can advocate techniques that minimize or “un-does” challenges and still value diversity.  For example, a person can support the inclusion of individuals with spinal cord injuries and support researching ways to correct damage to their spinal cords.  A person can also support the inclusion of individuals who cannot talk and support researching ways to give them access to speech.

9) You cannot advocate the “cure” of a diverse group and still value diversity.  For example, you cannot support racial diversity and try to cure “blackness.”  Neither can you support neurodiversity and try to cure autism or bi-polar or any other neurological subtype.

Neurodiversity is about recognizing that the human race has natural neurological variations, accepting the individuals with all those variations, and including them in society.  It is about giving people the power and the opportunity to achieve their own individual potential, not quantifying that potential and dismissing those who do not “measure up” from consideration.  A belief in neurodiversity does not preclude the experience of disability.  A belief in neurodiversity does not preclude the desire to overcome the experience of disability, either temporarily or permanently.  A belief in neurodiversity doesn’t even preclude a belief that the government has no business extending entitlements or “special rights” to disadvantaged groups.  A belief in neurodiversity does, however, preclude the belief that you are in any way superior to another on the basis of things beyond your or their control.  Being smarter doesn’t make you better.  Being more socially adaptable doesn’t make you better.  Being more emotionally stable doesn’t make you better.  If you want to feel “better,” then use your abilities (whatever they are) to help others.  Not only will you really feel better, but it’ll be a better feeling than any false sense of superiority could ever give you.