Redefining normal: The path to self-attainment for people with neurodiversities: How do people from the neurodiverse spectrum define self-fulfillment?
Author(s)Daugherty, Maggie Williams
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractDissertation (Ed.D., Educational Leadership)--California State University, Sacramento, 2013.
Neurodiversity is a controversial concept at the core of a social movement. It posits that disabilities of neurological origin, or atypical neurological development, are a typical human variance that should be respected as diversity instead of a disabling condition or deficit (Armstrong, 2010; Harmon, 2004; Ortega, 2009). Neurodiversity typically encompasses a variety of identifications, such as autism, ADHD, Down syndrome, learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, mental and emotional challenges, Tourette???s syndrome and other neurological differences. These individuals are often viewed by society as having a disabling condition, without the recognition of the differences and strengths that individuals with neurodiversities possess. This qualitative phenomenological study examines the path to self-attainment for individuals with neurodiversities. Interviews were conducted with 6 adults with neurodiversities, who identify as being self-fulfilled in their lives. The participants were all students of California State University, Sacramento. The data, gathered in face-to-face interviews, sought to uncover how people with a neurodiversity define self-fulfillment and the journey they took to reach self-acceptance. 1. How does each person define success (self-fulfillment)? 2. How does each person define happiness? 3. What identified strengths do people with neurodiversities have that lead to their success? 4. What experiences helped lead someone with neurodiversities to develop as an individual and be successful? 5. What challenges and barriers had to be overcome to reach success, happiness and self-fulfillment? a. How did they overcome stereotypes to identify strengths? b. How did they build resiliency to attain self-fulfillment? Using Bronfenbrenner???s Theory of Ecological Development to frame the study with support from Malsow???s Theory of Motivation, Benard???s Theory of Resiliency and Steele???s Theory of Stereotype Threat, the researcher analyzed the data showing that the participants defined success and self-fulfillment through a sense of determination and defined happiness through a strong sense of identity. The area of strength identified to help the participants be successful was self-efficacy. The experiences were identified with internal and external factors. The internal factors were high expectations, knowledge, facing challenges, and autonomy. The external factors were support systems, social acceptance, and culture. The barriers each individual identified as having to overcome were related to societal mindsets toward individual with neurodiversities. Overcoming these stereotypes was achieved by self-acceptance and support systems. Participants indicated that resiliency was built through sense of purpose, problem-solving skills, sense of belonging, autonomy and family support. These findings correspond directly with Benard???s Resiliency Theory. This study concludes with policy and future research recommendations, as well as recommended changes in practices in schools. Institutions must consider using strength-based approaches for all students, especially those with neurodiversities. Therefore, to help students build self-fulfillment, students need to recognize strengths and develop a sense of purpose and a strong identity.