Neurological Pluralism

ANI launched its online list, ANI-L, in 1994. Like a specialized ecological niche, ANI-L had acted as an incubator for Autistic culture, accelerating its evolution. In 1996, a computer programmer in the Netherlands named Martijn Dekker set up a list called Independent Living on the Autism Spectrum, or InLv. People with dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, and a myriad of other conditions (christened “cousins” in the early days of ANI) were also welcome to join the list. InLv was another nutrient-rich tide pool that accelerated the evolution of autistic culture. The collective ethos of InLv, said writer and list member Harvey Blume in the New York Times in 1997, was “neurological pluralism.” He was the first mainstream journalist to pick up on the significance of online communities for people with neurological differences. “The impact of the Internet on autistics,” Blume predicted, “may one day be compared in magnitude to the spread of sign language among the deaf.”

The neurodiversity movement: Autism is a minority group. NeuroTribes excerpt.

Neurodivergent people are psychological safety barometers.

We must build for the psychological safety and sensory safety of neurodivergent people. When we have Cavendish space where we can construct niches, we can make cool stuff.

  • Caves, Campfires, Watering Holes
  • Dandelions, Tulips, Orchids
  • Red, Yellow, Green
  • Conversation, Discussion, Publication
  • Realtime, Async, Storage

These reductions are a useful starting place when designing for neurological pluralism. When we design for pluralism, we design for real life, for the actuality of humanity.


Understanding spiky profiles, learning terroir, collaborative niche construction, and special interests is critical to fostering neurological pluralism.