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What are coolabilities

How are Coolabilities defined?

Coolabilities, traditionally seen as disabilities or oddities, is an overall name for enhanced abilities in disabling conditions. Coolabilities are not isolated phenomena but the general principles that may apply to a variable extent across a wider range of conditions.

’Coolabilities’ are the enhanced abilities and strengths that co-occur with disabling conditions. The term “coolabilities” was coined to describe enhanced abilities accompanying disabling conditions like Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Hyperlexia and color blindness, to name a few.

Types of Coolabilities

‘Contextual Coolabilities’

A trait that is disabling in one context (environment) becomes non-significant in another, such as people with ASD who have very specific (“limited”) interests and extreme attention to detail, can become experts where the specific knowledge is valued, attention to details is an asset.

(Austin et al., 2008; Austin & Sonne, 2014; Gal et al., 2015; Jacob 2015; Robertson 2010)Learn More

‘Compensational Coolabilities’

When one or more abilities are strengthened at the loss of another. For example, a person who lost one limb and trains
the remaining ones to compensate for the loss.

(Chinnery and Thompson, 2015)

‘Singular Coolabilities’

Abilities that do not exist in other people, such as when blind people reorganize and reassign neural pathways in the visual cortex giving rise to Coolabilities such as echolocation. People with such abilities perceive and act in ways unimaginable to others.

(Amedi, Raz, Pianka, Malach, Zohary 2003; Thinus-Blanc and Gaunet, 1997; Chinnery and Thompson, 2015 ; Kupers, Pietrini, Ricciardi, and Ptito, 2011)

Publications

Knowledgebase

Terms

Other important terms in this context are neurodiversity and “diffabilties”. The term neurodiversity was first used in the 1990s to describe Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) as a neurological variation rather than a cognitive disability. Since then, the term was expanded to describe other neurological differences such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ADHD(Armstorng, 2012). The term neurodiversity is often used to differentiate this group from the neuro-typicals. “Diffabilties” is short for “different abilities”, and is meant to replace the word “disabilities”. This term is sometimes used in the context of ASD to describe a “difference in ability that may not have a functional impact on an individual’s potential and/or well-being” (Brignell, Morgan, Woolfenden, & Williams, 2014).

“Coolabilities”, on the other hand, is an overarching term that describes the enhanced abilities, talents, competencies, or characteristics which co-occur with disabling conditions, and counterparts of the word “disabilities”. The definitions of disabilities and coolabilities are equally set by context. A disabling condition is always hosted by a minority and challenged by ‘normal’ requirements.

Myopia is not a disabling condition where innovation has made cheap, high-quality corrective lenses available to everyone. Synesthesia, e.g. when hearing music makes the host see colors, is not disabling because it rarely comes in the way of meeting normal requirements. Old age is not a disabling condition, despite having all the attributes thereof, including discrimination, because it is a normal thing. Hypothetically, if old age would be considered a disabling condition, then experience and wisdom would be among its coolabilities.

The Community

The Coolability Community

There are successful initiatives harnessing the coolabilities of people. Increasingly more non-profit organizations advocate, train, coach and employ adults with neurodiversities. Training for organizations and corporate personnel are now offered in this space. While the challenges are very far from being resolved, we are beginning to witness a positive shift in the acceptance of the competencies and talents of people with neurodiversities.

(Chen, Leader, Sung and Leahy, 2015) (Armstrong 2010; Armstrong, 2012; Austin et al., 2008; Austin & Sonne, 2014; Baron-Cohen et al 2001, Baron-Cohen 2009; Benton, Vasalou, Khaled, and Gooch, 2014; Happe and Vital, 2009, Mckinney 2016, Pisano & Austin 2016, Robertson, 2010, Wei 2014)

Research

Autism Spectrum Detail. Focus. Memory e.g. engineer

Difficulties in social interaction, understanding social nuances and reduced self awareness. Narrow focus. Difficulty filtering sensory stimulation ie. (sound, light, touch, smell) and high sensitivity to sensory stimulation. Resistance to change and routine. Repetitive behaviour. Challenged in planning tasks for daily living

Coolabilities

Attention to detail. Extraordinary observation skills. Deep interest in specific fields. Intense focus. Expansive long term memory. Comfort with rules and guidance. Affinity to analyzing complex patterns in the social and physical worlds. Creative in specific areas of interest. Original thinkers (more time devoted to talent than socializing). Honest. Visual-spatial skills. Exceptional talent in very specific areas. Success at repetitive tasks. Strong systemizing skills.

Occupations (STEM related)

Computer programmers, software design, communications and networking, engineering design, equipment design, fine mechanics, research, mechanics repair, fine advanced machines assembly, lab technicians, web design, computer animation, video game design, app designs, accounting, chem. Engineering, statistics, computational art

References for the table

Armstrong (2010 & 2012) Austin et al (2008) Austin & Sonne. (2014) Baron-Cohen et al (2001) Baron-Cohen (2009) Benton & Johnson (2015) Benton et al. (2014) Burger-Veltmeijer (2014) Happe F. and Vital P. (2009) Mckinney (2016) Montgomery (2015) Pisano & Austin (2016) Robertson S.M. (2010)

ADHD Energy. Flow. Innovative Proactive. e.g. entrepreneur

Difficulties in reading, spelling correctly, decoding words, and in comprehension of text

Coolabilities

Creativity. Original problem solving. Different perspective. Connecting tasks and realities. Divergent or innovative thinker. High focus in fields of interest. Presaverence. Motivation

Occupations (STEM related)

Any STEM related careers in Science, Math, engineering, medicine, architecture, interior design, education when accommodations and assistive tech are present.

References for the table

Armstrong (2010,2012) Benton L., et al (2015) Cancer et al (2016) Cotiella & Horowitz (2014) Eide & Eide (2011) Everatt et al. (1999) Kapoula et al. (2016) Logan, J. (2009) Montgomery (2015) Siegel (2006) Tan et al (2016)

Dyslexia Creative. Problem Solver e.g engineer/entrepreneur

Hyperactive; Distractible. Can’t maintain attention; Restless; Impulsive; Disruptive (Risk taker); Decreased inhibition. Preservation (Negative hyperfocus)

Coolabilities

Risk taking; Spontaneous; Imaginative; Energetic; Creative; High precision; Multi-tasking; Novelty seeker; Connecting multiple ideas; Creating surprising solutions; Idea generating; Innovative; Proactive; High tolerance for uncertainty, “Flow” (Can utilize hyperfocus productively).

Occupations (STEM related)

Entrepreneurs, CEO’s, Educators. Inventors. With these strengths can contribute to many STEM careers.

References for the table

Roux et al (2013) Armstrong (2010, 2012) Benton et al (2014) Leroux (2000) Montgomery (2015) Nadeau K. G. (1997) Rinn & Raynolds (2012) Shaw G.A (1992) Tan et al (2016) Thurik et al (2016) Verhuel et al (2015) White, and Shah. (2006) White and Shah. (2011) Wiklund (2015)

Causalities

There can be several causalities linking the enhanced ability to the disabling condition. Coolabilities can be tagged by the following causalities:

‘Contextual Coolabilities’

A trait that is disabling in one context (environment) becomes non-significant in another, such as people with ASD who have very specific (“limited”) interests, and extreme attention to detail, can become experts where the specific knowledge is valued, an attention to details is an asset.

Austin et al., 2008; Austin & Sonne, 2014; Gal et al., 2015; Jacob 2015; Robertson 2010

 

‘Learned Coolabilities’

When one or more abilities are strengthened at the loss of another. For example a person who lost one limb and trains the remaining ones to compensate for the loss.

 

Chinnery and Thompson, 2015

 

‘Innate Coolabilities’

Abilities that do not exist in other people, such as when blind people reorganizes and reassign neural pathways in the visual cortex giving rise to coolabilities such echolocation. People with such abilities perceive and act in ways unimaginable to others.

Amedi, Raz, Pianka, Malach, Zohary 2003; Thinus-Blanc and Gaunet, 1997; Chinnery and Thompson, 2015 ; Kupers, Pietrini, Ricciardi, and Ptito, 2011

Resources

Events

Coolabilities Events

Coolabilities brings together innovators who tailor education and jobs for all; look for unique skills, talents, passions and potential markets for innovation-for-jobs ecosystems. The Coolabilities community will gather together again in the coming year to build outcomes for the innovation-for-jobs economy globally.

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