Neurodiversity is the theory that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are natural variations in the human genome. We are all neurodivergent in some way. There are as many ways to be neurodivergent as there are people on the earth. Some of us have Autism. Some of us have ADHD. Some of us have Dyslexia. Some of us have Sensory Integration issues, or Anxiety and Depression. We are all neurologically different, with different styles of thinking, learning, and approaching the world than others who aren’t Neurodivergent. The neurodiversity perspective holds that neurotypical people should accommodate neurodivergent people and make society more accepting of neurodiversity.
What Does Neurodivergent Mean?
Neurodivergent is a term used to describe people who have different brains than the “typical” brain. It’s not an official diagnosis, but it’s a way of describing anyone who thinks or feels differently than other people.
People who are neurodivergent may find that they have trouble concentrating, remembering things, processing information quickly, or doing things like following directions or organizing their thoughts. It’s not that they’re stupid or lazy—it’s just that their brains work differently from most people’s.
People who are neurodivergent may be diagnosed with something like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia… the list goes on! Or they might have no diagnosis at all—they just feel like something is different about them.
Sometimes it can be hard for neurodivergent people to fit in with others because of how their brains work. But there are lots of ways for us all to learn more about each other and make sure we’re all feeling safe and included.
Neurodivergent students are often misunderstood because they may not be able to communicate what’s going on inside of them. They may have difficulty focusing on tasks that other people seem to find easy.
It’s important to understand how the neurodivergent student experiences the classroom environment because it might not be the same as yours. For example: if you’re not very active and prefer quiet environments, it may be difficult for you if there is too much noise or movement around you during class time!
Is being neurodivergent a disability?
Many people who identify as neurodivergent feel that they are discriminated against because of their neurological differences, which are often mischaracterized as mental illnesses — and, in some cases, even criminal behaviors.
A common example is a dyslexia: a person with this condition may be seen as having a learning disability or intellectual disability despite the fact that it has nothing to do with intelligence. Dyslexia is also not an illness or disease; it’s an umbrella term for reading difficulties caused by differences in how the brain processes information. People with dyslexia generally experience difficulty processing spoken language and written words simultaneously (such as when reading).
Other common conditions include those related to anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s syndrome; eating disorders such as binge eating disorder (BED); attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder; sleep disorders like narcolepsy; sensory processing issues like synesthesia/auditory processing deficit syndrome (APD); schizophrenia-like psychotic experiences like hallucinations or delusions; Tourette syndrome/chronic tic disorder
In addition to being able to support neurodivergent students in the classroom, you can also help them feel more comfortable by creating an environment where they can learn without judgment or stigma. You can do this by encouraging them to express themselves through art or music, providing opportunities for them to make friends with others who share similar interests, and helping them become aware of their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
The best way you can support these students is by talking with them directly about their needs and helping them understand why it’s important for everyone around them to accept everyone regardless of how different they may seem from others on the outside.
The Other Reasons Why You’re Different
Neurodiversity advocates reject this view, arguing that neurodiverse people should be accommodated in society, rather than coerced or forced to change. They want to be accepted as they are and want to participate in society on their own terms; they don’t want to be discriminated against because of their different ways of thinking and learning.
This viewpoint is often summed up with the slogan “different, not less” and has been championed by autistic author Temple Grandin (who was also herself diagnosed with autism), who has spoken about her belief that everyone can contribute something valuable—even if it’s something unconventional like her own ability with animals.
The neurodiversity perspective holds that neurotypical people should accommodate neurodivergent people and make society more accepting of neurodiversity. Neurodivergent people are not mentally ill, but rather simply have brains that work differently from the majority of people.
What are the symptoms of being neurodivergent?
Because many conditions on the autism spectrum involve difficulties with social communication, it is important for members of society to be patient and understanding when interacting with individuals who have been diagnosed with autism or another condition such as Asperger’s syndrome or Down Syndrome. Neurotypical individuals can practice accommodating those on the spectrum by doing things such as:
- Using a person’s preferred name and pronouns; may include gender-neutral pronouns like “ze” instead of “he,” “she,” etc., or simply asking which pronoun someone prefers before addressing them (e.g., “What pronouns do you use?”).
- Making eye contact while speaking; if this is difficult due to sensory issues associated with having ASD (or some other disability), it might help if you try smiling at them while talking so they know you’re paying attention!
- Avoiding certain topics as much as possible because they might cause anxiety—it’s okay if something comes up organically in conversation without either party planning ahead first.”
The Bottom Line
If you’re neurodivergent, it’s important to know that there are people who support your right to live freely. The neurodiversity movement is growing, and many people now believe that neurotypical people should accept neurodivergent people as they are — instead of trying to change them into something they’re not.