Event: The Salvesen Lecture 2021: Dr Punit Shah

Dr Punit Shah delivers the 2021 Salvesen Lecture: 'Are similarities just as important as differences in neurodiversity research?'


The Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre and Salvesen Mindroom Centre are partners, working together from research and practice perspectives, to improve the lives of neurodivergent young people and their families. One key way we contribute to that is by hosting an annual Salvesen Lecture, to showcase the very best of neurodiversity research, with relevance to our everyday lives.

This, our third annual Salvesen Lecture, took place via a live online broadcast on Monday 6th December 2021. 

Dr Punit Shah of the University of Bath asks "Are similarities just as important as differences in neurodiversity research?", drawing on a body of work with autistic adults.

Dr Shah says: "The neurodiversity paradigm is an important and powerful mechanism to rethink ‘difficulties’ in neurodevelopmental conditions, like autism and ADHD, towards understanding and celebrating strengths among neurodivergent people. This approach, however, remains focussed on differences instead of similarities between 'neurodivergent' and 'neurotypical' thinkers.

Drawing on examples of my research on autism in adulthood – much of which was co-produced with neurodivergent people within the GW4 Neurodevelopmental Neurodiversity Network – I report several findings of small and non-significant associations with autism. In view of these results, and ever-growing discussions about neurodiversity in (non)academic contexts, I propose that understanding and celebrating similarities between 'neurodivergent' and 'neurotypical' people may be just as important as finding differences.

I speculate that this process might be useful in improving cohesion between different groups in society, in context of neurodivergence and beyond. To this end, I reflect on i) improving statistical methods, ii) encouraging academic journals to prioritise null findings, iii) enhancing media promotion, and particularly iv) co-production, as important routes to advancing the neurodiversity agenda."

Below is a recording of the lecture with audio and subtitles.