Current Call for Submissions: Autism and Neurodiversity

Deadline: September 15, 2020

The autistic scholar Judy Singer coined the term neurodiversity in the late 1980s as a means of pushing against the harms of Ableism and NeuroTypical (NT) assumptions about autism. At the time, conversations around autism were dominated by NT “curebees”—medical professionals, teachers, parents, government officials—whose deficit concepts around ability focused on the pathologies of autism. Singer (1988) developed the term neurodiverse for those who identified as “having a ‘hardwired’ neurological difference, not a personality flaw that was their own fault or a psychological problem” (p. 10). Pushing against NT assumptions of what brains can do, the neurodiverse community appreciates a wide range of cognitive styles, strengths and weaknesses, gifts and peculiarities.

As McGuire (2016) explains, “neurodiversity references the assumption that human neurology is neither static nor singular,” but rather on a wide range of variation (p. 59). Rather than remain separated by differing diagnosed conditions, neurodiversity links a wide range of neurodivergent voices. The community includes individuals with a varying range neurological and development differences: Tourette’s syndrome, dyslexia, dyscalculia, bipolar disorder, dyspraxia, and epilepsy. United in their divergence, the neurodiversity movement fights for a more welcoming and inclusive society.

Steve Silberman calls neurodiversity “the rallying cry of the first new civil rights movement to take off in the 21st century.” It is certainly true that the neurodiversity movement has brought more attention to the value of neurological divergence. And yet, the movement has also been criticized for its focus on high-functioning divergence. There are those who argue that the popularity of neurodiverse perspectives has undermined less independently mobile autistics. Others claim that while the movement claims to celebrate diversity, it ignores autistic individuals who have benefited from diagnosis or rely on medical treatment.

Put simply, neurodiversity is a contested movement. It has brought much needed attention to the harms of NT thinking in regards to neurological difference. Yet, not all autistics feel included or well represented by the neurodiversity movement. In our next issue, we encourage submissions that explore, value, and complicate the neurodiversity movement by addressing the following questions:

  • What work is being done to create a more inclusive environment for neurodiverse people?
  • How does the neurodiversity movement push against neurotypicality?
  • How has neurodiversity overshadowed or excluded certain autistic experiences?
  • What are the limitations of neurodiversity?
  • How does neurodiversity fit within inclusion programs?
  • What stories are being left out of the neurodiversity community?

Ought encourages both critical and creative works in every genre, including original research, theoretical scholarship, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual arts. Ought is a peer-reviewed journal whose editorial board consists of neurotypical and autistic scholars, educators, and writers. Please submit materials at http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/ought.


McGuire, A. (2016). War on autism: On the cultural logic of normative violence. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Silberman, S. (2013, April 16). Neurodiversity rewires conventional thinking about brains. Wired. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2013/04/neurodiversity/

Singer, J. (2017). Neurodiversity: The birth of an idea. Self-published.