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Types of Autism-Related Movements

November 29, 2008

I just added the following discussion of types of autism-related movements to this page. Comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

  1. Neurodiversity Movement: This movement is a category of identity politics which refers to autistics and others who reject notions of “curing” autism, as tantamount to a rejection of autistics, in favor of self-advocacy (autistics advocating for themselves individually and collectively) and an appreciation of differences. Neurodiversity is associated with the social model of disability.
  2. Supremacy Movement: This movement combines an intentionally mythopoeic approach with a quasi-evolutionary view to construct a model of superiority. It regards autism, sometimes only Asperger’s autism, as a naturally occurring mutation. For instance: “One in every three hundred people is born an Aspergian Mutant (AM). You may be one them, and you may not even know it!… AM children often develop some ‘special powers’ too. These are varied and sometime take years to discover. They may be far reaching memory skills (e.g. the ability to remember entire catalogues after one reading) [or] extraordinary 3d simulating skills (e.g. the ability to visualise a whole building’s infrastructural composition as a 3d computer program would do).” Also, “A land of sea-gazing people, Aspergians, who venture into the great waters for fishing, but never the great distances required to find others, although they fiercely believe they exist…. The Aspergian civilisation has all but disappeared, but its biological and genetic heritage is still very much with us. Their genes are strong and persistent, reminding us throughout our history, that there were other ways of being, and other possibilities.” Some people who hold to this perspective, or similar ones, will say that they are not autistic. Instead, they will focus on a supposed superiority to neurotypicals. Neanderthal theory can be seen as one perspective within the supremacy movement.
  3. New Age Movement: The body of literature frequently identified with the “New Age Movement” covers considerable ground. However, one of the issues which some have addressed is the autism spectrum. People who subscribe to these ideas argue that Asperger’s autistics are either “indigo children” or “crystal children.” For instance, Cynthia Berkeley argues that children diagnosed with ADHD “are most commonly misdiagnosed as having ADD or ADHD because they get bored very easily. These children have amazing mental abilities and they are very sensitive to the energies that surround them. They are known as the ‘system-busters’.” On the other hand, “Basically, the Indigo Children were born to pave the way, redesign old belief systems and make space for the Crystal Children, who will teach us some even more important lessons…. The Crystals are here to bring love. They are even more super sensitive to energies than the Indigos and are even more psychic. Some characteristics of a Crystal child are that they learn to speak at a much later age (often after 3, 4 or even 5 years old). They are most commonly misdiagnosed with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.”
  4. Pro-Cure Movement: This movement, which is somewhat pejoratively referred to as “curebies” by some neurodiversity self-advocates, favors a search for a cure to autism. Basically a parent-led movement, it has sometimes been associated with an advocacy of pseudoscientific treatments, such as chelation. The pro-cure movement accepts a type of the medical model of disability.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2008 12:33 pm

    I don’t think you’ve described “New Age” correctly. The crystal/indigo concept came much later. New Age relates more to an earth-centered spirituality with links to pagan religious practices.


  2. nominalist permalink*
    November 29, 2008 5:09 pm


    The New Age Movement of the 1970s began in the UK as a modification of the “pop spirituality” movement of the 1960s. Self-defined new agers turned to many sources, including Alice Bailey’s books (the Arcane School and New Group of World Servers) and various unorthodox methods of healing (like with crystals).

    These days, A Course in Miracles, many of the views expressed by Oprah Winfrey, and the books of Eckhart Tolle (popularized by Winfrey) have dominated the “new age” marketplace. Similarly, the concepts of indigo and crystal children developed among people who subscribe to many of the ideas of that movement.


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