As a society, we often view differences as something to be feared or avoided. However, the concept of neurodiversity challenges this perspective by celebrating the unique ways our brains work. Before delving into the quotes, we must first understand what we mean by neurodiversity. Essentially, neurodiversity is the idea that there is no one “normal” way for our brains to function. Instead, each individual has a unique neurological makeup, which can manifest in various ways.
The phrase “neurodiversity” was initially coined by Judy Singer, an autism rights advocate, and Harvey Blume, a New York journalist. Now widely accepted by the autism rights and advocacy movement, “neurodiversity” has evolved to include a broad range of “neurological and developmental conditions“, to quote Harvard Health Publishing. These days, it is regularly employed as a broad term to encompass a range of conditions, such as ADHD and dyslexia. However, it’s important to note that not all neurodivergent individuals have a formal diagnosis. Rather, neurodiversity encompasses the entire spectrum of human brain variation.
Why is Neurodiversity Important for Social Impact?
Recognizing and celebrating neurodiversity is essential as it helps to break down the toxic and divisive “us vs them” mentality. Rather than viewing neurodivergent individuals as “other,” let’s accept that we are all different, yet ultimately the same species. Additionally, by acknowledging that no single person’s brain functions in the same way, we can move towards building an inclusive and accessible society for everyone.
Powerful Quotes About Neurodiversity and Social Impact
Let us come together in celebration of neurodiversity by sharing some uplifting quotes. May they bring solace to those who are neurodiverse and provoke thought in those who are neurotypical, thus paving the way for more inclusion and acceptance.
#1 “Neurodiversity is the future of innovation and progress.” – Steve Silberman, author and activist.
In Steve Silberman‘s words, it is time to cease the fear and avoidance of neurodiversity and recognize its enormous potential for progress and innovation. Those who have changed history – from the iconic inventors to the renowned philosophers – were likely neurodivergent. Accepting this fact can open doors for further remarkable advancements in science, technology, and other areas. This inspiring message was encapsulated in Silberman’s award-winning 2015 book Neurotribes, which documents the journey of the autism rights and neurodiversity movements.
#2 “As a boy, I wasn’t very bright. I didn’t even know the time of day I was in school. I think I had dyslexia or some learning disability. I certainly didn’t fit in anywhere. The years passed, and a feeling of failure was always with me until, by accident, I came across this career, and look at what has happened! Of course, I don’t regret anything because, in the long run, look what I’ve accomplished.” – Sir Anthony Hopkins, Oscar-Winning Actor
At the end of your life, hindsight should present a beautiful picture; this is the essential lesson conveyed to us by Sir Anthony Hopkins. It does not matter if one is dyslexic or not, but if one can make it look beautiful, it’s a life well-lived.
#3: For kids with undiagnosed dyslexia, everyday schooling is like being taught in a foreign language. – Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D.
Dr Roberto Olivardia is an accomplished clinical psychologist and lecturer specializing in the treatment of ADHD and related disorders. Furthermore, he serves as a Clinical Instructor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School. He has published extensively on ADHD, male body image, eating disorders, and dyslexia, providing valuable insights into the complex issues.
#4: “Dyslexic kids are creative, ‘outside-the-box’ thinkers. They have to be because they don’t see or solve problems the same way other kids do. In school, unfortunately, they are sometimes written off as lazy, unmotivated, rude or even stupid. They aren’t. Making Percy dyslexic was my way of honoring the potential of all the kids I’ve known with those conditions. It’s not a bad thing to be different. Sometimes, it’s the mark of being very, very talented.” — Rick Riordan, author
The celebrated New York Times best-selling author is renowned for his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The series chronicles the daring exploits of demi-god adolescents as they traverse the realms of the Greek gods and mythical beasts while simultaneously facing the obstacles of middle school. With his ADHD and dyslexia diagnoses, Percy Jackson personifies that it’s possible to turn perceived disadvantages into strengths. With his innovative mind, acute focus, and creative out-of-the-box thinking, the hero of the stories can conquer seemingly intractable situations. His disabilities render him more sympathetic and relatable, and many readers can find common ground in his battles.
#5 “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” – Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde was a passionate, powerful voice for justice and equality. A black feminist, poet, essayist, and civil rights activist, she fought for the rights of marginalized people. From 1934 to 1992, Lorde stood up for the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Gay Rights Movement. Through her writing, she called attention to issues of race, gender, sexuality, and class and the intersection of these forms of oppression. Her legacy of social change and advocacy lives on. She emphasizes that it is not the differences among us that lead to divisions but our unwillingness to appreciate and honor these discrepancies that bring discord.
#6 No, autism is not a ‘gift’. For most, it is an endless fight against schools, workplaces, and bullies. But, under the right circumstances, given the right adjustments, it CAN be a superpower – Greta Thunberg: Environmental Activist
Greta Thunberg is a young Swedish environmental activist who has gained international recognition for her efforts towards raising awareness about climate change. She was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 11. Thunberg’s diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome has been cited as a factor in her activism. She has described it as giving her a unique perspective and the ability to focus on the issue of climate change. She has also advocated for mental health awareness and support, particularly for young people. Her autism diagnosis has been a part of her story, bringing attention to the critical role that neurodiverse individuals can play in making positive changes in the world.
#7 “Neurodiversity may be the birthplace of some of humanity’s greatest minds.” –Harvey Blume, journalist.
Harvey Blume is an American author, journalist, and cultural critic who is an influential figure in the field of neurodiversity. Blume has helped to raise awareness of the positive aspects of neurological differences and advocated for greater acceptance and inclusion of neurodivergent individuals in society.
He believes that by embracing neurodiversity, we can create a better-equipped society to support and nurture these individuals. This, in turn, has the potential to drive even greater innovation and progress.
#7 “I didn’t succeed despite my dyslexia, but because of it. It wasn’t my deficit, but my advantage. Although there are neurological trade-offs that require that I work creatively [and] smarter in reading, writing and speaking, I would never wish to be any other way than my awesome self. I love being me, regardless of the early challenges I had faced.” -Scott Sonnen, Professional Athlete
Scott Sonnon is a world-renowned fitness coach and martial artist from the United States. In addition to his impressive athletic achievements, Scott Sonnon is also known for his work in raising awareness about dyslexia. He has dyslexia and has spoken openly about his challenges growing up with the condition. However, he has also emphasized the strengths that dyslexia can bring, such as creativity and problem-solving skills.
#8 “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Attributed to Albert Einstein, but source unknown.
Einstein may not have said it, but the words ring true. It’s a diverse world where people with different gifts and abilities unite to make something beautiful. And that’s exemplified by this timeless image: a bird, a monkey, a penguin, a fish, a seal, and a dog all in a line, facing the same exam – to climb a tree. Judging everyone with the same yardstick without considering their unique abilities and drawbacks is foolish.
#9 “We do not need to cure neurodiversity. We need to embrace it.” – Jonathan Mooney, author and activist.
Jonathan Mooney is a well-known author, speaker, and advocate for neurodiversity. He is an individual who is diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, and he has used his personal experience to become a leading voice in the neurodiversity movement. He stresses that neurodiversity should not be viewed as something that needs to be “fixed”. Instead, it should be seen for what it is: a natural, invaluable form of human diversity that deserves to be celebrated.
#10 The most interesting people you’ll find are ones that don’t fit into your average cardboard box. They’ll make what they need. They’ll make their own boxes.
– Dr Temple Grandin
The illustrious Temple Grandin, PhD, needs no introduction to the world of autism and neurodiversity. She’s a distinguished professor, a bestselling author, an animal behaviorist and an autism self-advocate who’s in huge demand as a speaker on the international stage. In addition, Grandin is an incredible source of motivation for autistic children and their families – she was the subject of the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning HBO film ‘Temple Grandin’, starring Claire Danes and Julia Ormond, and was listed among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010. A genuine inspiration.
#11 “Neurodiversity is a natural and valuable form of human diversity.” – quote from the National Symposium on Neurodiversity at Syracuse University.
The concept of neurodiversity shines a spotlight on the vast array of human diversity and affirms the beauty in our differences. With a greater understanding of neurodiversity, we can cultivate an inclusive and accepting society. We must embrace and nurture the distinct qualities and potential of neurodivergent people rather than expecting them to conform to a single set of ideals.
# 12 Dyslexia was the last puzzle part in a tremendous mystery that I’ve kept to myself all these years. Remember! You are not alone, and while you will have dyslexia for the rest of your life, you can dart between the raindrops to get where you want to go. It will not hold you back.” — Steven Spielberg, American Filmmaker
The dyslexic American filmmaker and legend Steven Spielberg has captivated us with blockbusters like E.T. and The Indiana Jones series. Yet, when we think of him, his disability is often not the first thought that comes to mind – a testament to the astounding legacy he has left behind.
# 13 Neurodiversity is not about changing people. It’s about changing society’s perception of people.” – Nick Walker, author and activist,
For years, Nick Walker – an autistic transgender psychologist – has been a celebrated figure within the Neurodiversity Movement. Her book, Neuroqueer Heresies: Notes on the Neurodiversity Paradigm, Autistic Empowerment, and Postnormal Possibilities compiles some of her most valuable intellectual contributions to the movement and provides straightforward yet inspiring resources to all those keen to understand neurodiversity without subjecting autism and other forms of neurodivergence to unjustified criticism.
# 14 “Neurodiversity is not just a matter of social justice, it is a matter of human rights.” – Judy Singer, author, and activist
Judy Singer is an Australian social scientist and activist who is known for coining the term “neurodiversity”. Singer is herself autistic, and her advocacy work has focused on promoting greater understanding and acceptance of neurodivergent individuals, particularly those on the autism spectrum. She has argued that neurodiversity should be seen as a form of human diversity, much like other forms of diversity such as race, gender, or sexuality. Singer’s concept of neurodiversity has helped to shift the conversation away from a deficit-focused view of autism, which sees it as a disorder or disease that needs to be cured or fixed, towards a more positive and inclusive view.
Celebrating Neurodiversity and Promoting Social Justice
Let us end on this thought: Celebrating neurodiversity is not only a matter of justice or fairness. It is a fundamental human right that deserves to be safeguarded. We can foster a more accepting, imaginative, and welcoming society by embracing this idea. So let us embrace the remarkable ways our minds work and work together for a more equitable and inclusive future for all.