Cooper says, “I am not someone
with dyslexia. I am dyslexic. Were I
not dyslexic, I would not be me” [ 2].
The integration of conditions with
self-definition has led individuals to exhibit apparently curious
behaviors such as the rejection of
possible cures. ADHD medication,
for example, can reduce the creative upsides that someone with
ADHD might find vital to their
sense of self.
For Cooper, neurodiversity
redefines dyslexia as another
way of being: a cognitive style.
It is the medicalized language
of the neurotypical that speaks
of a cure or support; this language dominates society’s
approach and has an implicit
effect on interaction design.
Neurodiversity spectrum. The
notion of cognitive upsides
explains why many conditions
exist; the second aspect, spec-
trum, explains how these condi-
tions fit into the population. Most
neurodiverse conditions exist in
a spectrum of disorders ranging
from normal to dysfunctional.
This spectrum makes it hard to
define the exact number of people
with a particular condition, as
that depends on severity. The
spectrum widens if we consider
the suggestion of Susan Baum,
who, looking at the education of
gifted and learning-disabled indi-
viduals, observed that the range
of those with intellectual differ-
ences may be larger than those
simply labeled learning-disabled.
Baum suggests that there are
three categories of “giftedness”:
• Figure 1. The
Low cognitive difference
High cognitive difference
March + April 2013