Diverse Minds Movement
Reading Beyond the Stereotypes: What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity relates to the natural variations in the way that people think and act. Brain differences are also viewed as normal, rather than deficits. Since we are all different from each other, we are therefore all neurodiverse. The terms “neurodivergent” or “neurodistinct” relate to individuals whose differences vary from societal norms, and who fall on the “edges of the bell curve” of human thinking.
Neurodiversity relates to the natural variations in the way that people think and act. Brain differences are also viewed as normal, rather than deficits. The neurodiversity term was originally coined by sociologist Judy Singer in the 1990s. Today, she has updated her definition as follows:
– a state of nature to be respected,
– an analytical term for examining social issues,
– an argument for the facilitation and conservation of human diversity.”
Since we are all different from each other, we are therefore all neurodiverse. The terms “neurodivergent” or “neurodistinct” relate to individuals whose differences vary from societal norms, and who fall on the “edges of the bell curve” of human thinking.
Neurotypical: This term describes individuals who think/process/interact in the “middle of the bell curve”, as in having brain functioning that falls within the dominant societal standards of “normal”.
Neurodistinct/Neurodivergent: These are broad terms that refer to several different conditions that fit in the “neurodiversity umbrella”. Conditions include but are not limited to, autism, ADHD, anxiety, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and more. There is no diagnostic “qualifier” for a person to be considered neurodivergent/neurodistinct, as it is up to the person to identify where they “fit” in comparison to societal standards.
As a healthcare provider serving neurodistinct individuals for over 20 years, I have found that the medical community has a long way to go when it comes to truly accepting and appreciating neurodiversity. The medical model utilizes a “curative” approach to assessing and addressing neurodiverse conditions, which is where much of the negative stigma around being neurodistinct begins.
The neurodiversity movement, on the other hand, highlights the unique skills and strengths individuals who “think differently” display. When accepted and appreciated for differences, neurodistinct individuals can be more productive and more innovative than neurotypical or homogenous groups, which ultimately enhances ROI.
I think that the medical community needs to gain more knowledge on neurodiversity and start having conversations with individuals they are diagnosing about the strengths and talents they can leverage regardless of diagnosis or difference.
The most important caveat to care should be that individuals are supported to understand and advocate for their unique skills, strengths, and conditions for success that can be directly translated into learning, social, community, and work environments.
The image below has been included to draw attention to the skills and strengths many individuals with neurodiverse conditions can display and is not meant to exclude any individuals who may not identify with any listed condition.
The Diverse Minds Movement Community is working to harness the unique strengths and perspectives of neurodiverse individuals, dismantle barriers to success, and empower leaders, managers, and team members to work together to contribute their talents to the advancement of cybersecurity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Occupational Therapist and Owner at Link OT, LLC