One of the most frequent questions I hear from parents of autistic children is, “how do I tell them they are autistic?” They want to explain autism to their child in a positive way; to frame the information as something that empowers.
My favorite way to approach conversations about autism and other forms of disability, especially (but not only!) with children, is rather than singling out the autistic or otherwise disabled child, begin with the larger context of diversity.
Diversity is, after all, an essential ingredient in a thriving natural environment; it is valuable for its own sake.
What I love about this approach is that it de-centers any one “typical” way of being, unlike the old way of explaining autism as a brain with a set of deficits that makes it something other than normal. There is no one correct or even best kind of brain, any more than there is one correct or best kind of dog or bird.
I have this “Diversity is Beautiful” cartoon for sale in my shop, on posters and mugs and a bunch of other cool products. If you choose to purchase something from there, your support is greatly appreciated! But I am also offering free printable PDFs (see below) so that anyone may use this information. As with all of my infographics, you have permission use these for personal, educational, and any other not-for-profit purpose, retaining credit to me (and any other sources listed in my graphics).
The Simple version of Diversity is Beautiful gives you more space to create your own accessible explanations for the concepts in the image. I recommend this one for audiences with less complex receptive language and/or reading skills.
Image description: title is “diversity is beautiful.” First row of drawings shows a variety of animals, with the caption “diversity in the animal world.” Second row shows an assortment of kids: from left to right is a person with a limb (arm) difference, person using a wheelchair, person with no visible disability, person signing “hello,” person using forearm crutches, person wearing glasses, person using a white/probing cane. Caption is “diversity of people.” Third row shows four heads with smiling faces and on foreheads are drawings of multicolored brains, caption is “diversity of human brains.” ©Erin Human 2017
Diversity is Beautiful (Simple)
The version called Diversity is Beautiful (Explained) has a more lengthy explanation for each form of diversity shown. This is a nice choice for anyone who does not wish to create their own script, or would like people to be able to access the image’s concepts independently (for example, as a poster in a school classroom).
Image description: title is “diversity is beautiful.” First row of drawings shows a variety of animals, with the caption “diversity in the animal world / there are millions of different kinds of animals – more than we can count!” Second row shows an assortment of kids: from left to right is a person with a limb (arm) difference, person using a wheelchair, person with no visible disability, person signing “hello,” person using forearm crutches, person wearing glasses, person using a white/probing cane. Caption is “diversity of people / people come in a great variety of shapes, sizes, genders, abilities, and appearances – we are all unique!” Third row shows four heads with smiling faces and on foreheads are drawings of multicolored brains, caption is “diversity of human brains / no two brains are alike, but we have names for different types – like ADHD, autistic, dyslexic, typical, & more!” ©Erin Human 2017
Diversity is Beautiful (Explained)
8 thoughts on “Diversity is Beautiful”
Excellent infographic 🙂
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Hi, Erin, I just have one argument about your reference points. The visuals and the idea are just perfect. Great attitude; I’ve been thinking just this way myself. However, there’s one issue that might come up with your choice of “diversity of animals.” There will be those who will split hairs and come back with, “yeah, but all humans are of one species and these animals are all different species.” It is the case that most animals perceive their own individual subtle differences within their individual species, just as we perceive our human differences. But what you need here is elephant-to-elephant comparisons, not elephant to chicken. You might decide to choose a broad category of fish, with all the color variations within their genome. It is splitting hairs, but I’d imagine it will be a lot of Aspies doing the splitting, like myself. Let me emphasize, you are going in the right direction with this attitude. The world has to learn to love us. Things are backward, in that regard.
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Thanks Sandra! I totally understand what you’re saying so I’ll explain why I did it the way I did.
To begin with, I originally made this drawing for my own young children (first version was just scribbled on a white board!), about a year ago. I knew for them to be both interested and able to understand, it had to express a complex topic in a simple and engaging way. So it starts out with a model of diversity that’s VERY easy to grasp: animals in general are quite varied, it’s clear at a glance! Once they could hook into that, the next two levels of complexity are easier to access.
The other sort of underlying structure is that it zooms in from macro to micro, conceptually. Grasping the word “biodiversity” is sophisticated, but the visual representation makes it simple. Humans are a subset of the animal world – we are varied too. And finally, we can get to the idea of “neurodiversity,” perhaps an even more complicated idea than biodiversity, but going in steps or levels from general to specific takes us there in an accessible way. 🙂
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Yes! An important way to start a convo about autism – with diversity. I love your artwork, it gives so much to all of us, thank you for creating it ❤
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This is perfection!! Thank you!!!
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My kids are going to love this! I’ll just customize the graphic by adding their favorite animals. These babies are going to be put on their bedroom wall.
I’m just wondering if you put Maedhros there intentionally or accidentally. Either way, I’m laughing like hell. Tall redheads with a missing right hand are not a common sight.
Thanks for making one autistic Tolkien fan very happy! (That’s me.)