The Case for Neurodiversity in Vermont (and beyond) – Vermont Learning-Support Initiative

The Vermont Learning-Support Initiative (VLSI) provides mentors for another at-risk population, children with learning disabilities.

In this blog post, VLSI  argues that children whose brains are wired differently deserve to be seen as different rather than as defective, as implied by the word “disability.” They propose using the word “neurodiversity,” as a more inclusive, affirming alternative to the prevailing mindset.


Some twenty years ago the word “neurodiversity” came into being, a gift from the autism community wanting to create a more inclusive, affirming alternative to the prevailing mindset of “disability.” In the neurodiverse framework, those whose brains are wired differently deserve to be seen as different rather than as defective.

Since that time, the concept has appealed to other groups whose labeling is similarly brain-based, such as those living with ADHD and dyslexia. It’s also been embraced by members of the educational community, most notably in Vermont at Landmark College, which just this year established a Center for Neurodiversity on its Putney campus.

It’s not a concept welcomed by all. Many education and health professionals resist it, preferring the accepted language of disability and deficiency. Disability-rights advocates are wary of its divisive potential. In each case, these are good people doing vital work; however, there are also compelling reasons to make room for the positive possibilities of neurodiversity.

The first reason might be that those sharing the neurotypical, aka “normal,” perspective are not always respectful that there are other perspectives on what is normal. A great many great minds have suffered from the imposition of this overly simplified way of looking at things, with results ranging from the incredibly courageous to the utterly tragic.

Secondly, there’s a huge potential cost to using a disability mindset where specific learning and attention issues are concerned……

Read the entire blog post here: 

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