Chile moves to recognize neurodiversity in its constitution. They are in the middle of a constitutional convention and this proposed new article got strong support at the convention, being one of the strongest supported articles in this convention. This piece will note it, address two concerns expressed in the media there and do a little of my own analysis. I’m not an expert in Chilean law so won’t get into the legal nitty-gritty.
Neurodiversity Article in Chile’s Constitution
Here is the text lawmakers in Chile passed in a constitutional convention.
Article 26.– The State recognizes neurodiversity and neurodivergent people, their right to a full life, a good life, autonomy and self-determination throughout their life cycle; in this regard, it must guarantee access to all the rights recognized in this Constitution and in international treaties ratified by Chile, ensuring the necessary and specialized adjustments aimed at eliminating the structural barriers that prevent their full exercise (…), with 112 endorsements, 8 against and 32 abstentions.
Possible Issues with Neurodiversity in Chile’s Constitution
Several indicated their concerns.
Rodrigo Álvarez… argued… “There are matters that are profoundly relevant, the reference to rest and leisure, the issues of neurodiversity, corporality and death are certainly important and that is not the problem. The problem is whether or not with this level of detail and depth they should be in the final constitutional text”.
Rodrigo’s point is a serious consideration as a constitution should be a very general document. I support neurodiversity 100% and am not an expert on Chile’s laws, but I would wonder if a more general article might be better. There is likely a way to write this for all disabled people, not just neurodiverse people.
Natalia Henríquez… expressed her doubts regarding the norms that speak of neurodiversity. “I understand that what you are looking for is effectively to find equality and that there is no discrimination of any kind, but at the same time, I have the doubt if that, by recognizing neurodiversity, therefore, also by depathologizing it, removes the category of disease. And by removing this category of disease, how is there any health care?” said Henríquez.
This seems to be something without solid merit. Giving the disabled rights does not mean the disabilities cease. When we gave better access to wheelchair users, they didn’t suddenly no longer need healthcare. Giving us neurodiverse people the tonight to autonomy might mean some of us don’t want certain treatments non-neurodiverse people think would be good for us but does not remove medical options.
An End to Forced Housing or Treatement
A big area I see adding something like this to the constitution could really improve autistic people’s lives is situations where choice is removed from us when others think they know what’s best. 72% of autistics would not want an autism cure 65% of non-autistic people be fine with curing us. (This survey is the source: I used all agree and neutral vs all disagree to simplify.) This is important as often such cures are the treatement offered to us.
Likewise, many autistic people want to live independently while those needing support are often pushing into group homes.
I think thsi will also help with stigma.
Such a rule can help promote the human dignity of neurodivergent people. I’m not sure if it is best in the constitution or other laws. The Catholic Church as the largest promotor of true human dignity can be at the forefront of this. I think giving neurodivergent people these rights promotes our human dignity.
Good job, Chile!