I’m an aspiring therapist and I’m working closely with people who have different abilities and talents. As we learn more and more about our brains, you might realize that there are people out there who learn differently.
It’s not that unusual really — we all have our own strengths and weaknesses in the grand scheme of things, so it shouldn’t be much of a shock for most people.
Neurodiversity could continue to be a new norm (or may already be) depending on where you are, whether it is your home, workplace, and/or school. Either way, let’s take a look at this term in greater detail.
Back in the late 1990s, sociologist Judy Singer became widely accredited for first using this term to address a variety of developmental abilities that cause people to think and behave differently from the rest of society.
If we follow the definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, neurodiversity is defined as:
“The concept that differences in brain functioning within the human population are normal and that brain functioning that is not neurotypical should not be stigmatized.”
Since its conception, neurodiversity has expanded to include many circumstances, and it’s been reported by contemporary scholars that these features aren’t disabilities, but are strengths within themselves.
ADHD and Neurodiversity
An example of a neurodiverse circumstance is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If we follow the premise of ADHD, then it is marked by varying levels of inattentivity, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. ADHD is often diagnosed during childhood.
ADHD is often framed negatively because some individuals may struggle to concentrate on traditional schoolwork or homework, resulting in them falling behind.
Modern research surrounding ADHD has reported that individuals often have high levels of creative thinking, drive, and passion. A lot of famous people have ADHD, whether it is Simone Biles, Justin Timberlake, Howie Mandel, Richard Branson, Henry Winkler, and many more.
They’re successful and they made the most out of their talents.
Accepting and Integrating New Norms
Neurodiversity challenges us to look beyond a person’s abilities and to see individuals for who they are — a person with many unique ideas, interests, and values. Just because a person has dyslexia, autism, ADHD, or other related situations, doesn’t mean that they get to be branded by society as pariahs.
They have as much right to have their voices heard, the same as everyone else.
While a lot of us accept others for who they are, there may be policies, norms, or rules in place that make neurodiverse individuals feel unwelcome. A good example of this might be in the workplace where social impressions matter. Having a different way of learning might cause an arched eyebrow or two.
A recent study even addresses this problem about workplaces. There has been a greater push by larger companies to incorporate varying levels of inclusivity, but many other companies have a long way to go.
What We Can Do
The general public can take steps to normalize neurodiversity, through awareness of norms and policies surrounding neurodiversity. Hiring managers, school administrators, and policymakers can also take steps to modernize their spaces so that neurodiverse individuals won’t feel ostracized.
For example, if you’re a recruiter, you can create jobs that can suit the needs of multiple learners, be open to different kinds of environments/schedules, and so much more.
Let’s put it this way — someone might have autism, and maybe they’re really amazing with memory. Meanwhile, someone else might have ADHD and might be a really creative content creator. At the end of the day, you could be neurodiverse yourself, but it takes an inclusive environment to help foster those existing talents, one step at a time.