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What Does It Mean To Be Neurodivergent?

Functioning, unusually, used to be viewed as a negative or problematic thing. Thankfully, science and research have come a long way in identifying differences in the human brain. 

Socially, the stigma of being different has started to lessen and people who used to feel on the outs are starting to feel embraced in an alternate way. 

What is Meant By Neurodiversity?

The term neurodiversity was originally created by a sociologist named Judy Singer, who also happened to be autistic. It presents the idea that people’s brains operate differently. The brain can process information, function, and respond behaviorally in a variety of ways.  

This diversity doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong, but rather embraces the differences. These variations further demonstrate the fact that humans are a diverse population.

Neurodiverse Categories

There are two categories of neurodiverse people, those who are classified as neurotypical and those who are neurodivergent. 

The term neurotypical is used to describe a person whose brain can function and process in a standard way. You’ll note that the term “normal” isn’t used in this as it is very subjective and also relative. 

People who are neurotypical probably are not as familiar with the word since it has never been an active issue for them. They’ve previously hit developmental milestones at the designated ages. They also are not likely to question whether their brain is functioning properly.

Neurodivergent, on the other hand, is used to describe people whose brains function and process differently. The scale of differences is large and ranges from very minimal differences to very obvious ones. 

The Evolution of Neurodivergence

The term neurodivergence has gained popularity over the last couple of decades for a number of different reasons. The rates of diagnosis for developmental disorders have seen a rise in numbers, giving more recognition to the term. 

There is also the fact that developmental disorders aren’t something anyone grows out of, so children who receive diagnoses grow up to be adults who can advocate for themselves. They are bringing recognition to the term. 

Most people who are living with one of the neurodiverse developmental diagnoses feel seen, understood, and embraced by this movement. 

Types of Neurodivergence

Originally, the term was used to describe those with autism. Over the years, the term has grown to encompass multiple factors. 

Autism – this operates on a spectrum due to the variety of symptoms a person can have. Some different severities and subtypes make up this spectrum. Challenges with autism can include repetitive behaviors, communication deficits, and impaired social skills. 

ADHD – this affects your ability to manage your thoughts, attention, and behaviors. You may have stronger emotions about certain things that seem out of the norm. High energy and disorganization are also commonly recognized symptoms. 

Dyslexia – this is typically associated with reading and writing out of order. It can also involve vocal skills, organizing words in a sentence, and ability to follow instruction. 

Other types – included under this umbrella is: Tourette’s, Down syndrome, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, OCD, anxiety, depression, and dyspraxia. 

Identifying Neurodivergence

Outside of receiving a formal diagnosis from a medical professional, there are signs and descriptors to be watchful for. Some traits are challenging, while others are actually helpful. 

Challenging traits include:

  • Learning challenges
  • Social communication challenges
  • Speech and language deficits
  • Sensory sensitivity
  • Unusual physical behaviors
  • Inflexible nature

Helpful traits include: 

  • Ability to maintain focus
  • Out of the box thought patterns
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Skills in music, art, tech, and/or science

Helpful Accommodations

Since neurodivergence covers a broad spectrum of diagnoses and classifications, specific accommodations can be tricky. School and work modifications can be extremely helpful for navigating the day effectively. Think communication modifications (text and teleconference), noise-reducing headphones or sensory areas, and work-from-home options. 

Smart technology is also a great tool for those with varying traits. This can be used for basic things like an alarm or calendar, all the way to a means for processing information like videos or typed notes. 

If you know someone who fits this description, or you yourself believe you could contact us to learn more about what it means to be neurodivergent. 




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