Neurodiversity has been defined as the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits, that falls outside societal standards of typical. The image below does a great job breaking it down.
The neurodiveresityhub.org shares that,
Although there is broad diversity across the population, some individuals have neurological variations that make it particularly challenging for their communication, self-expression, and interactions with others. Neurodivergence is a broad umbrella and is not just autism. Neurological variations can include autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and tics. (However, Judy Singer, who coined the term, proposes that we are ALL neurodiverse because no two humans on the planet are exactly the same.)
I couldn’t agree more with Judy… if we really think about it, there are nuances to everyone’s personality that made them individuals and unique. As caregivers of the neurodivergent community we have the awesome opportunity to reset the assumptions, advocate for inclusion, and help the world see the benefits of the neurodiverse in our lives that we care for and love.
Harvey Blume said, “Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment?”
And that’s what I want to focus on today… the beauty amidst the complexity of neurodiversity and learning to embrace the challenges as we relish the amazing opportunity to help the world accept, value, and embrace the differences. As we do, will be helping the world discover the power of inclusion as they uncover the treasures, gifts, and perspectives these individuals bring to the world.
In What is Neurodiversity? by Amand Morin author at www.understood.org (an incredible site that create useful content: articles, support strategies, information, and resources to help you learn how to best support the neurodivergent in your life…they also have a great podcast In It click the link to read up about it and find it here: In It Podcast (understood.org)) she says,
What would happen if the world viewed neurodevelopmental differences like ADHD, autism, and learning disabilities differently? If everyone noticed the strengths that can come from these differences first, instead of the challenges?
That’s the basic idea of neurodiversity — that differences don’t have to only be looked at as weaknesses. They’re not problems that need to be “fixed” or “cured.” They’re simply variations of the human brain.
The neurodiversity view is also personal. Being neurodivergent can help shape identity and how people see themselves and their value in the world. Neurodivergent people experience, interact with, and interpret the world in unique ways. That can sometimes create challenges. But it can also lead to creative problem-solving and new ideas — things that benefit everyone.
I don’t know about you, but on some days, especially hard days… it’s easy to forget that my boy’s differences are opportunities to learn how to come into their world and see things differently. That, in challenging moments, what they both need from me is not a solution or a quick fix– so we can move on– but a chance for them to invite me into their world and help me understand why the are feeling, thinking, or responding the way they are. Then, I can learn how to better deal with the situation in the future.
Curious how to know how to better embrace neurodiversity? Well, Megan Anna Neff, Psy.D created the image below for her @neurodivergent_insights Instragram and Facebook pages where she explains what embracing neurodiversity looks like from her prospective…
I have learned much from the Neurodiversity Movement. Embracing neurodiversity can take many forms. Here are a few things I see as central to embracing neurodiversity (as a clinician, an ND [neurdivergent] person, or parent of an ND child).
🦋 Swapping out pathologizing [regard or treat (someone or something) as psychologically abnormal or unhealthy.] language toward affirmative language. Less “disorder” talk and more “pattern of differences”. NOTE, this does not mean denying autism/ADHD as a disability. However, such an approach places understanding of disability within the larger social-cultural context– much of what is disabling is the efforts to navigate a neurotypical world. Navigating a neurotypical world compounds the experience of disability.
🦋 Avoiding glorification: On the flip side of pathologizing neurodivergence is tokenizing and glamorizing it. While there can be patterns of strengths that come with an ND brain (I do love my pattern-finding brain!), over glorifying also risks objectifying and creating a thin narrative around what it means to be ND.
🦋 Conversations of “curing” autism/ADHD carry shadows of eugenics. Less cure talk-more support talk. That said, talking about ways of treating co-occurring conditions (depression, anxiety, PTSD, sensory needs) is an important part of holistically supporting the ND person.
🦋 Neurodivergence is often defined through ways it is “other” to neurotypicalism. Such messaging centers neurotypicalism. Neurodiversity encourages narratives of autism, ADHD, bipolar, and other neurodiversities to define their narratives on their own terms and through their lived experiences.
🦋 Confronting internalized ableism: [the discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities and/or people who are perceived to be disabled.] Many of us inherent & inhale messages of ableism which contribute to shame dynamics. Confronting & finding freedom from internalized ableism can be a powerful form of healing, empowerment, & self-ownership.
🦋 Considering intersectionality: A person is never just neurodivergent–their neurodivergence happens in a context–a social, ethnic, racial, economic, sexual & gender context. other identities intersect with & influence how someone experiences their neurodivergence.
Inclusion is possible as we do what we can to change the narrative and advocate for the neurodiverse in our lives. Learning to embrace it ourselves is the first step in helping the world to do the same.
Could you use some support with that? We’d love to invite you to our Advocacy Support Group where neurodiversity awareness will be the topic this month. We have a speaker from Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at University of South Florida (CARD-USF) coming to share with us about the services they provide but also doing a training. Please see the image below for more details.
There are so many amazing resources that support the neurodiverse community, but our resource spotlight of the month is highlighting Olive Health. Olive Health is an innovative healthcare practice that is changing the game when it comes to healthcare.
Their practice aims to provide an environment where people can come for a different healthcare experience. They aim to create a tailored approach to wellness that addresses the needs of each unique individual in. their. homes… YES, that’s right. Olive Health is a mobile concierge healthcare provider that will bring primary care to you.
They realized the need and opportunity as they served Special Olympics athletes. The practice offers, wellness, primary care, aesthetics, and more for affordable and accessible pricing. Oh, and the icing on the cake is they accept most insurances and if they don’t take yours, they’ll do what they can to work with you!
I think it’s fantastic when organizations take inclusion to a whole new level and Olive Health is doing that by realizing and recognizing that for some, being at home in their environment will help their overall health and so they’ll literally bring healthcare to you. Amazing, right?
For neurodiverse awareness and inclusion to be our future we must get out in the world so the world can get to know us and our neurodiverse loved ones. We can start taking advantage, sharing, and utilizing the resources, supports, and services that advance life for the neurodivergent community. And finally, we can be the change in the world that we want to see, so neurodiversity will be not only accepted but valued. As Neil Milliken so beautiful says,
Let’s celebrate the differences neurodiversity brings and open the eyes of the world together as we bring neurodiversity awareness so inclusion can truly be for all.
Thanks for reading!
Until next month,
Family Resource Coordinator
Learning Independence for Tomorrow (LiFT)
Sandi Lynn Geller Memorial Family Resource Center