More Alike than Unlike: From Neurodiversity to Cognitive Continuity

Dr. Josh May


Abstract: Neurodiversity was introduced in the autism community to represent the idea that the condition is one among many valuable ways of thinking and feeling. I argue that a core notion of “cognitive continuity” is often entangled with other claims—about stigma, deficits, and the social model of disability—that are either orthogonal to or in tension with continuity. I then show that the cognitive continuity claim is quite radical, for it can be applied to virtually all psychiatric conditions. Given that the neurologically typical and atypical lie on a continuum, they are more alike than they are unalike. Continuity has radical implications for our conception of mental health and human agency, but these implications decidedly help rather than hinder compassion, respect, and support for all.