What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is a term that is starting to gain more traction in the world of mental health. Advocates of this movement are calling for a general acceptance that autism, dyslexia, and other neurological conditions are simply natural human variations, not pathologies or disorders. Promoting equal rights for all, they want to be recognized as an example of human diversity. The acceptance of this idea could directly affect how mental health professionals and the public at large view a multitude of neurological conditions, such as autism and ADHD. Seeing these disorders as a result of normal variations in the human genome instead of a disease or injury could potentially change the way these disorders are treated and help navigate the waters of the stigmas surrounding them.
Neurological differences such as Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Tourette Syndrome and others are now starting to be seen through the lens of a nature vs. nurture telescope, as opposed to previous beliefs about their origins. This is not to be confused with brain injuries that that can mimic the signs of these conditions. Advocates of neurodiversity would argue that both of these groups are very real and have rights, they just have different origins.
Since conditions like autism aren’t viewed as a defect, people backing the neurodiversity view of the world seek assistance and accommodation, not a cure. They can see how humanity’s greatest achievements are all thanks to diversity, there are just some outliers who fall outside of what most people would consider “normal” by being too diverse. Many great artists and scientists throughout history have suffered from neurological diversity but have contributed greatly to society.
If certain traits are simply part of a person’s genetic makeup and do not need to be cured, the same rules should apply for people who are neurologically diverse, even though they might be functionally disadvantaged. That’s the general message that proponents of neurodiversity want the world to understand.
Neurotypical is a term used by people in the autistic community to describe people who are not on the autism spectrum. Neurodiverse and neurotypical people unknowingly interact all the time since there’s no way to tell outwardly how neurologically diverse someone is until they start acting in a way outside of societal norms. Education is key in helping to improve the quality of life for neurodiverse individuals since the more society understands what makes people different and the origins of our distinctions, the more empathy they will have when communicating.
Herrick Lipton is the CEO of New Horizon Counseling Center in New York and is also an advocate for mental health. For more information about Herrick or to get in touch with New Horizon Counseling Center for resources, please visit nhcc.us or call718-845-2620.Originally published on https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-neurodiversity-herrick-lipton/
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