Autism Diagnosis or Neurodivergent Identity?

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


- I will begin my briefly positioning myself in this work, and identifying my stance and inexpertise in discussing this topic. I hope to address this by welcoming video extracts from my friend, peer and colleague Simon Richards, who I will introduce momentarily.
- I would then like to explain the journey that I’ve taken in recent months which has informed this presentation, and the collective of international music therapists with whom I have been developing my understanding.
- I’d then like to introduce the Neurodiversity Movement, in contrast with a medical or deficit-informed understanding of Autism. While many of us might have heard of or even use the term ‘neurodiversity’, I believe it is important to understand the origin and intentions of this movement, before considering its implications for music therapy and music therapists.
- As Houting (2018) suggests: “Misinformation about neurodiversity is perhaps compounded by the proliferation of autism researchers, professionals, parents and even autistic people adopting what has been described as ‘neurodiversity lite’ (Neumeier, 2018): employing the rhetoric of the neurodiversity movement without fully understanding the assumptions that are the foundation of the neurodiversity paradigm.” This is one rationale for taking time to explore the origin and intention of the neurodiversity movement today.
- I will then move on to some examples of how this movement may be of relevance to music therapists and to music therapy practice.
- I will intersperse my presentation with analogies from the Autistic community, in an attempt to prioritise and privilege autistic voices in this discussion. In a similar vein I welcome Simon’s contributions throughout to enrich and at times contrast my own ideas.
- To conclude I hope to invite you to embark on a journey yourselves and to consider the relevance of these ideas, stories and metaphors to your own experience and practice.
Period16 Nov 2019
Event titleUSW Music Therapy and Autism Conference
Event typeConference
LocationNewport, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • music therapy
  • autism
  • neurodiversity
  • ableism
  • models of disability