Comments on the Article:
The article starts out as crap in my opinion. In the beginning I was wondering if the guy who wrote it has ever actually read the DSM-IV. Yes, abnormality is one of the criteria that can suggest that there is a psychological problem, but it's certainly not the only component or even the most important. Abnormal behavior certainly includes mentally ill behavior, but they're not the same thing--in fact mentally ill behavior can be the norm in certain societies if you use Western definitions to analyze them. Whether or not the behavior is causing yourself or other people harm or is causing you serious psychological distress is far more important than the "normality" of the behavior when it comes to determining if that behavior is a disorder or not.
However, the last page I thought was fairly redeeming. He kind of admitted that he was attempting to rebrand things in order to turn around the way that people look at those disorders, and that there are still drawbacks to those disorders. His suggestions on attending to the needs of a child with mental disorders by supplementing the weaknesses and allowing them to practice their strengths is a very good idea, if not sort of obvious. As far as I could tell, he's generally avoided saying that people of disease x shouldn't take medicine for it, so I can't really find much fault with what he wrote overall, just the first few pages.
He did say that about 1/4 of people in the US could be diagnosed with a mental disorder, but what he failed to mention in giving that statistic is that addiction is considered to be a mental disorder. Given the high prevalence of smoking, alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction, etc... well, it messes with the numbers. I remember discussing that specifically in my abnormal psychology class.
About the concept of Neurodiversity from a philosophical viewpoint:
"Normal" in any society is simply a style of behavioral human adaption which (in theory) promotes success on an individual or societal basis. In most situations, conforming to the norm is in the advantage of the individual in question, but that does not necessarily mean that such conformity should be promoted. For example, my life in the United States would be far easier at times if I was to become a Christian instead of remaining Agnostic.
While that conversion would be beneficial, it is not in line with who I am, thus would require me to behave contrary to my nature and be someone who I am not; of course there are many other reasons, but that's the part that's key to the concept of Neurodiversity, I think. I'm sure we can all agree that requiring someone to behavior in a certain way that causes them dysphoria because it's out of touch with who they are is generally wrong. But there are certainly exceptions to the rule.
If you're going to argue that when a biological predisposition (e.g. Autism) strongly encourages the individual to behave in a certain way (such as exhibiting Autistic traits) we should accept that behavior because it is not a choice, then you have to be OK with sociopaths committing murder. Obviously individual behaviors need to be analyzed on their own merit. Example: homosexuality is obviously not normal, but there is certainly no harm being done, so it should not be discouraged. As long as the individual acting is hurting no one but themself, I don't see what gives society a right to intervene.
But here's where things get gray yet again: by my logic given in the above paragraph, suicide should be accepted as a legitimate behavior if someone makes that decision, because they're only hurting themself. There's an easy way to argue out of that, by claiming that they are hurting other people (such as their family) by taking their own life. But when you bring that into the fold things become far more complicated overall.
When you start to consider the emotional impact of certain behaviors--beyond the basic, most immediate, and obvious outcomes--the list of behaviors that can damage other people emotionally is definitely much more expansive. Any birth defect or genetic disorder, such as Autism, causes a certain amount of emotional strain on the family of the person affected, not to mention the people who regularly interact with them. I had a friend for awhile who was diagnosed with Aspergers (an Autism spectrum disorder), and his abnormal behavior regularly caused problems in our circle of friends. Being unable to walk is clearly a disability, why shouldn't being largely unable to empathize with other people be labeled as such as well considering how important social skills are to function in any society?
The bottom line is, none of this matters that much really in my opinion (which is probably making you roll your eyes if you read this far). This is all a matter of nomenclature more than an actual attempt to change the structure of our laws or society. In our society, parents are allowed to make the choice about whether or not they want to treat their children with mental disorders for those disorders, and that isn't going away anytime soon.
I think the neurodiversity movement is a subtle push at changing societal paradigms, which is a worthy cause. Anyone who is "mentally ill" has a very large stigma against them which is rarely justified. Society as a whole forgets that people who smoke are mentally ill, as are those who do anything compulsively (such as play video games or even post on E in a way that interferes with their responsibilities systematically--though media addiction is still a gray area to psychological professions). There's too much fear and not enough understanding of difference in the United States, and this is just another symptom of that.