Neurodiversity, neurodivergent, neurodiverse – These terms have been around for decades now, but have gained more traction recently as we, including the healthcare community, learn more about neurodevelopmental conditions and differences. So what do these terms actually mean?
Neurodiversity is a term that simply refers to the neurodevelopmental differences that exist in our community – the way we think, process information and navigate the world around us.
Neurodiversity really applies to everyone. For example, some people may really enjoy going to museums while others may find the experience boring. Some people may enjoy socializing in large groups, while others may prefer more quiet and intimate settings. Some people learn easier by observing, while others may learn better by doing.
Within this concept of neurodiversity, there are two broad categories – neurotypical and neurodivergence.
Neurotypical individuals are those people that learn, process information and behave within the spectrum of what is considered to be the usual and typical.
Neurodivergence describes people whose brain differences create different strengths and challenges compared to those who are neurotypical. Examples of neurodivergence include autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, and intellectual disabilities.
It is important to remember that neurodiversity embraces all differences, and has really been around for a very long time. If you really think about it, there are many neurodivergent people out there!
Many parents worry about their child “fitting in” with a world that is designed for the neurotypical. It is very important to remember that being different is not bad. Being different just makes a child unique. It’s important for adults to understand and accept their neurodivergent child, to determine the best ways to support them and help them thrive.
While we often refer to children when we talk about being neurodivergent, many adults today are claiming they are neurodivergent. Is this really true? Or is this just something “trendy”?
We really do think that the majority of adults who identify as neurodivergent are likely correct! Once you actually listen to the voices of neurodivergent adults, you’ll see that there’s a lot we have to learn, including healthcare professionals. We really can learn a lot from the adult neurodivergent community.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many diagnostic tools out there for adults. The medical community needs to create better ways to help adults, especially women, and those in marginalized groups.
The important take-away here is that neurodivergent people don’t need to change. We just need to do better at accommodating their individual needs, rather than thinking that there is something wrong when someone doesn’t function the same way as others.