Please Note:

This symposium took place on August 5, 2011, and this website is no longer being updated. This site will remain open and available to share resources and keep the dialogue active.

Neurodiversity is a concept and social movement that advocates for viewing autism as a variation of human wiring, rather than a disease. As such, neurodiversity activists reject the idea that autism should be cured, advocating instead for celebrating autistic forms of communication and self-expression, and for promoting support systems that allow autistic people to live as autistic people.   While neurodiversity is known widely as a concept applied to the autistic community, individuals with other atypical forms of neurological wiring, such as ADHD, hydrocephalus, and dyslexia, to name a few, may also identify with a neurodiversity framework.

The first Symposium, which took place on Friday, August 5, 2011, kicked off with a keynote by Ari Ne’eman, who is a founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (http://www.autisticadvocacy.org/) and at the time of the Symposium, he was Vice Chair of Engagement on the National Council on Disability (http://www.ncd.gov/). Ari’s keynote addressed issues such as the history, current state, and future of the neurodiversity/autistic self-advocacy movement, and autistic self-advocacy in politics.

Following the keynote, local activists led panels on more specific topics related to neurodiversity, such as: autistic culture; helping parents support self-advocacy; self-empowerment through facilitated communication and other non-verbal forms of communicating; and neurodiversity in the classroom.

The 2011 Neurodiversity Symposium was sponsored by:

  • The Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee
  • The SU Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies
  • The Syracuse University Disability Cultural Center
  • The Institute on Communication and Inclusion
  • The SU School of Education
  • Cultural Foundations of Education, School of Education, Syracuse University
  • The Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education
  • The Department of Teaching and Leadership

If you have any questions about this symposium, please email Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri for more information.

Comments on: "About" (16)

  1. Steven Kapp said:

    As an autistic self-advocate, autism researcher, and fan of SU, I say what a great idea! Could you webcast the event (perhaps post on YouTube)? I think doing so would match the spirit of inclusion and accessibility. 🙂 I know at least a few others also inquired into webcasting and Ari said it is definitely worth exploring.


  2. As someone who’d like to attend, but lives to far away to do so, I think the webcasting idea is great.

  3. Samantha Pierce said:

    What time does the symposium start? I would like to attend but haven’t found any reference to a start time.

  4. I want one of the Tshirts, but can’t be at the Symposium, can I still order one? If so, how much is the shipping?

  5. Samantha Pierce said:

    I had a wonderful time at the symposium. Thanks to all who helped make it happen. I hope to have the opportunity to attend more such events in the future.

    • tuiuiu2530 said:

      Hi Samantha,
      Great to hear this! We are looking to have this event happen annually at SU, so keep watching the blog.


  6. Noted autism expert Dr. Bryna Siegel told me recently that neurodiversity is ridiculous because “Asperger’s traits will never be acceptable in the workplace.” (Apologies for using non-PC term; it’s a quotation, OK?)

    What can the neurodiversity community do to counter this type of resistance from someone seen as a supporter of children and parents? She has a lot of outdated stereotypes, such as telling me that people on the spectrum don’t laugh, are not interested in friendships and marriage, and are incapable of learning “theory of mind.” How can we overcome our alleged allies spreading misinformation?

    • tuiuiu2530 said:

      Good question. I’m not sure if I could give you a good answer right now, but I think it’d be a good thing to ask someone like Ari.

    • Samantha Pierce said:

      I think I would start by getting to the heart of where the misconceptions came from and then carry on from there. It is really quite unconscionable for an “expert” to still hold such demonstrably false views about autism. But starting out by saying that probably isn’t going to get you a further hearing. Sometimes people need to be gently introduced to the fact that they have been dead wrong about the autistic community for decades. Or at least that’s my advice on a day when I am feeling generally kind and forgiving. Catch me on a bad day and I wouldn’t be so nice about it.

    • Ewww, I never liked Bryna Siegel. I have one of her books “Helping children with autism learn.” Even when I was 14, I noticed something was wrong with her beliefs. According to her prologue, the only autistic adult she has spoken to was Temple Grandin. All the rest were parents and other professionals. I bet her logic is that autistics are basically adult children, and letting them make decisions is like letting a child have Oreo’s for dinner every night.

      If I could smash a rotten fruit pie in anyone’s face, it would be Bryna Siegel. I bet she is one of those medical professors who brainwashed my mother into insisting that I act “normal.” She even has a chapter on that in her stupid book, which I annotated with lots of swear words 😀

  7. Is there a transcript of the keynote available anywhere?

    • tuiuiu2530 said:

      Unfortunately, we were unable to get a transcript made due to funding constraints. However, we might type one up manually.

  8. Hope to know the 2013 date soon. I’d like to include it in my thesis!

    • tuiuiu2530 said:

      We’re looking at sometime around August, but haven’t had a chance to do a whole lot of planning yet this year, due to other commitments. But I will definitely post it up as soon as we figure it out!!

      Alex U
      Symposium Coordinator

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