Neurodiversity acknowledges the diversity of ALL minds. The term refers to the differences between human brains that affect sociability, learning, mood, attention, and other mental functions. It challenges the view that any deviation from the norm is pathological and a disability, instead suggesting that societal barriers are the main contributing factor that disables people (KhironClinic 2021). It's a vital awareness topic that I wanted to highlight through this initiative as I've learned in recent years that I have a neurodivergent mind. It became more apparent to me that this way of thinking is something we should all embrace as it promotes a greater understanding of others, harmony, & compassion for others. Everyone learns and perceives the world in their own unique way as well as how we respond to the world, what might not register for one person could be life-changing for another. I love the diversity and neurodiversity of people we have on this earth... we need to have many varieties of minds, a multitude of perspectives and views so that there will be many solutions offered for different types of issues/challenges that we need to handle in life on a personal + societal level. This viewpoint is being highlighted more in discussions as advocates of this thought share the message of 'diversity rather than disability' to a broader segment of the population than just autism, including children + adults with intellectual disabilities, ADHD, dyslexia, and social + emotional disorders (T. Armstrong 2018). Accepting human neurodiversity is important so all people can live their best lives. Please read on for some information I have compiled from several sources and a video about how embracing neurodiversity can be empowering and powerful.
MORE ABOUT NEURODIVERSITY
Neurodiversity is the natural diversity of human minds that acknowledges the whole spectrum of neurodiversity from neurodivergent individuals to neurotypical individuals. It is a biological fact as we are diverse in our minds just like we are diverse in our ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc. Neurodiversity refers to all the unique and different ways that people can exist, think, act, process, feel, and function. In the late 1990s, Judy Singer, a sociologist, who is on the autism spectrum herself, came up with a word to describe conditions like ADHD, Autism, and Dyslexia, this word was "neurodiversity". Her hope and objective were to shift the focus of discourse about ways of thinking and learning away from the usual litany of deficits, disorders, and impairments.
WHAT IS NEURODIVERGENCE?
Neurodivergent is an umbrella term to describe individuals who have a mind or brain that diverges from what is typical or normal. It can be acquired, genetic, an innate part of you, or not. It's not just restricted to Autism and ADHD but also mental health conditions like bipolar, personality disorders & more.Neurodivergence just means having a mind that functions differently from what is considered the norm or typical. Functioning differently might mean thinking, processing, interpreting, feeling, and experiencing things differently and so much which is why our neurodivergence is a big part of who we are and how we exist in this world.
WHAT DOES NEURODIVERSE MEAN?
Neurodiverse is a term to describe a group of individuals who represent the spectrum of neurodiversity which includes both neurotypical and neurodivergent individuals.
ARE NEURODIVERSE AND NEURODIVERGENT THE SAME?
NO! Neurodiverse & neurodivergent are not interchangeable terms that mean the same thing. There is no such thing as a “neurodiverse" person, because an individual, cannot be neurodiverse. If you're writing about individuals who aren't neurotypical or who don’t fit into the dominant norms, the term would be neurodivergent. For example: if you’re a professional who wants to say they specifically support autistic kids, kids with ADHD, and kids with learning disabilities, you wouldn’t say “neurodiverse kids” because that would imply you work with neurotypical AND neurodivergent kids. You work with neurodivergent kids.
ADHD, ASPD, DID & OSDD, BPD, NPD, C-PTSD, DYSLEXIA, SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER, DYSCALCULIA, PTSD, DYSGRAPHIA, AUTISM, BIPOLAR, EPILEPSY, OCD, ABI, TIC DISORDERS, SCHIZOPHRENIA, MISOPHONIA, HPD, DOWN SYNDROME, SYNTHESIA and more.
The information above is an excerpt from a blog by Sonny Jane 2022, Lived Experience Educator website, accessed 6th August 2022
CAN TRAUMA MAKE YOU NEURODIVERGENT?
Neurodivergence is the state of being neurodivergent and can be genetic and innate (such as autism) or produced by experiences (such as trauma). Some forms of innate neurodivergence, like autism, are part of a person's core being. PTSD and C-PTSD are now considered by many to be within the umbrella of neurodivergence but fall under the category of acquired neurodivergence. That is, a kind of neurological difference that is related to an event or series of events, and not the result of innate, primarily genetic difference(s) as with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, or other kinds of neurological differences. (Hermanson & Fares 2021).
"Neurodiversity might be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. "
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO SUPPORT AND EMBRACE NEURODIVERSITY + NEURODIVERGENCE?
When thought of as deficiencies, there is a tendency to want to medicate or treat neurological differences. However, neurodivergence itself is not an emotional, behavioral, physical, or psychiatric disorder (although neurodivergent individuals can also have these difficulties); therefore, medications and strict behavioral interventions are not necessary, do not work, and can be harmful. Here are some other ways to support neurodivergence instead:
Continue to learn about neurodiversity and neurodivergence.
Name, accept and celebrate neurodivergent identities.
Respect unique neurological profiles involving different sensory, communicative and behavioral expressions: Knowing that outward behaviors are an expression of one's unique identity and experience of the world, loving and accepting individuals, as they are, creates a solid foundation for health and wellness.
Instead of labeling neurological differences as deficiencies, consider them as strengths that can also be vulnerabilities. For example, the sensitivities and heightened experiences that often accompany neurodivergence can create overwhelm but can also facilitate great attention to detail and unique perspectives.
Recognize neurotypical biases and ableism in individuals, institutions, and society.
Challenge neurodivergent assumptions and stigma. One of the biggest assumptions is that neurodivergent individuals are not socially motivated or empathetic and have social deficiencies; however, this has only been found to be true when judged against neurotypical people. In reality, this “mind-blindness” goes both ways and neurotypical people also appear to have similar social difficulties when interacting with neurodivergent people.
Listen to neurodivergent voices (#actuallyautistic) and respect their truth and experience.
Find, change or modify environments to fit neurodivergent individuals so they can thrive.
Respect all forms of communication and expression, not just spoken words.
When discussing individuals, use the person’s name; when this is not an option, use identity-first language unless there is a preference for something else.
Don’t use functioning labels. Instead of using a functioning label, the person can simply be called "autistic." If more specificity is needed, describe specific needs and abilities.
If you are unsure how to best support someone, ask them!
EXCERPT from My Place of Mind Website 2019, accessed 29th July 2022
If you have any thoughts or questions about this page, feel free to contact me on the CONTACT page with the subject line: Neurodiversity.
Tiimo Website, Anna Fay Hermanson & Muhammed Fares, June 3 2021,<https://www.tiimoapp.com/blog/neurodivergence-war-social-justice>
Khiron Clinics Website, Blog, Sept 15 2021, <https://khironclinics.com/blog/trauma-and-neurodiversity>
Human Diversity Should Be Celebrated Not Treated Like a Disorder, NOW THIS Youtube channel, 2018
T. Armstrong, American Institute of Learning & Human Development website, <https://www.institute4learning.com/2018/04/23/8-reasons-why-we-need-neurodiversity-in-education>