What is neurodiversity?

The basics of Neurodiversity

(image descriptions are included in the main text of the post)

This is Pat.

(image is a very basic human shaped outline consisting of a circle head and an upside down U line for the body, with the word “Pat” at the bottom)

image source

This is Pats Brain.

(image is a black line drawing style brain- the left side looks like a basic brain outline, the right side is made up of a light switch, a clock, a cog, a spool, two circuit boards and a lot of tubes all winding around and linking with each other. This image was sourced on Freepik.com)

This is Pat and their friends.

All Pats friends have Brains too.

(image is a row of 6 very basic human shaped outlines consisting of a circle head and an inside down U line for the body, each has a brain  the same as image for Pats Brain above inside the head. Each person has a name at the bottom- left to right they are Alex, Drew, Pat, Lee, Jess and Sal)

No two brains are exactly alike.

This is Neurodiversity.

(image is the same as the one above, with each brain in a different colour. Alex is blue, Drew is green, Pat is yellow, Lee is orange, Jess is red, Sal is purple)

 neuro– |ˈnjʊərəʊ|
combining form
relating to nerves or the nervous system
diversity |dʌɪˈvəːsɪti, dɪ-|
noun (pl.diversities) [ mass noun ]the state of being diverse
diverse |dʌɪˈvəːs, ˈdʌɪvəːs|
showing a great deal of variety; very different
(image to the left is a rainbow brain circle made of 6 brains each a different colour)

Some peoples brains are similar enough that they behave in ways that are categorised and labelled.

One of these labels is “normal“, which in this context means something like:

looks pretty much like the majority of people and can function in ways we expect people in our society to function without needing extra support. Sometimes people use the word “neurotypical” instead of normal (image to the right is a group of 7 blue brains in a kind of circular arrangement)

Some other labels are Schizophrenic, Bipolar, Autistic, Epileptic.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 12.24.30 PM

(image is 4 groups of 7 brains, each group is in a circular arrangement and has its own color. The group on the left is yellow, the next group is green, then red, then purple)

All these labels indicate Neurodivergence, that is, a deviation of a brain from the “normal”.

People labeled with these things (and others) are Neurodivergent.

Not all neurodivergence is diagnosed, or even diagnosable. This means that not all people who are perceived as neurotypical are in fact so. I write about this in my article ‘Neurodivergent NOS‘. Neurodivergent NOS is a nonsense term I made up to represent people who identify as neurodivergent but are not diagnosed with a recognised neurodivergence. (image to the left is a group of 7 orange brains in a kind of circular arrangement)

The Pathology Paradigm includes the word “Disorder” in all the above labels (except of course the label “normal”) and says that all these neurodivergences require treatment in order to make the brains, and the people with those brains, appear more normal.

The Neurodiversity Paradigm maintains that diversity is good and that people with neurodivergences are valuable just as they are and should not be forced or coerced into participation in treatments designed to make them look more normal.

Neurodivergence is something a person can be born with (e.g. Autism) or it can be acquired (e.g. a traumatic injury to the brain). Of course, if a persons neurodivergence leads to them being unwell,  unable to function the way they want to, or in danger of any sort, there is no reason they should not seek treatment, or assistance and accommodations, in order to look after themselves the best way they can, but this is a decision that should be made by the person themselves without being pressured by others simply for the purpose of conforming to societies expectations of normality.

Neurodivergence is neither “good” nor “bad”. It just is. It is up to each neurodivergent individual to decide what help they desire. People who are part of the Neurodiversity Movement support and advocate for the rights of individuals to have those choices.

Pat, Alex, Drew, Lee, Jess and Sal are comfortable with their individual divergences and their diversity as a group. They support each others rights to self determination, and they value the strengths they each bring to their group of friends.

(image above is a row of 6 very basic human shaped outlines consisting of a circle head and an inside down U line for the body, each has a coloured brain and a name at the bottom of their body outline: Alex is blue, Drew is green, Pat is yellow, Lee is orange, Jess is red, Sal is purple. There is a colourful row of small triangular flags hanging above the group of people. Each flag has a letter on it. The letters together spell “NEURODIVERSITY”)

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