It’s estimated that 15-20% of the global population is neurodivergent. While we can certainly get into the details of what neurodiversity truly means, in a nutshell, it refers to anyone with a condition that causes their brain to work a bit differently than a neurotypical brain. The neurodiversity movement promotes and accepts these differences and does not believe they are deficits or weaknesses. In fact, neurodivergent folx often have many strengths and special gifts which should be celebrated. We’ve been learning more about what it means to be neurodivergent for years. While neurodivergent isn’t a medical term, it is a concept identified by Judy Singer. In doing so, we’ve been able to reduce the stigma and increase awareness, ultimately promoting acceptance surrounding neurodiversity.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of those conditions that fall under the neurodiversity spectrum umbrella. Many people with neurodivergence have strengths that others don’t, but it’s also not uncommon for them to have unique struggles. It can be incredibly challenging to be neurodivergent in a largely neurotypical world. The more you educate yourself on the types of neurodivergence, the more of an advocate you can be for the people in your life who might be navigating life with one of these conditions.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of conditions a neurodivergent person can have. However, if someone you know identifies with one or more of these conditions, at this time, they’re considered neurodivergent:
- Down Syndrome
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
People with mental health challenges as well as those with intellectual disabilities and even social anxiety can also be considered neurodivergent. Clearly, each of these conditions varies greatly, this is why it is a neurodiversity spectrum. For example, some of the common signs of ADHD include things like fidgeting and the inability to concentrate on singular tasks. Alternatively, the signs of dyslexia include delayed learning, reading challenges, and difficulty remembering things.
That’s why there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to neurodivergence. Being able to recognize the individual signs of these conditions (and more) in yourself or someone you love can make a big difference when it comes to getting the help you/they need.
Is a Neurodivergent Disorder a Disability?
Absolutely not all the time! The more we learn about neurodivergence, the more we recognize that it doesn’t necessarily mean someone has a disorder or a disability. They simply might process things in a different way but still come to the same solution as anyone else. However, some people with a more impactful presentation of neurodivergence could be considered to have a disability and may need adaptive or communication support. For example, people with autism can sometimes struggle to communicate verbally. Those with dyslexia might not be able to read as well as their peers.
Even if someone you know has an extreme neurodivergent condition, that doesn’t mean they don’t have strengths. For example, someone with autism might not be verbal, but they’re outstanding with numbers and data processing. It’s essential for neurodivergent individuals to find their strengths, so they can have healthy outlets to express themselves and prove their condition doesn’t define them.
Are Neurodivergent Disorders Treatable?
Because there are so many variations of neurodivergent disorders and conditions, it’s impossible to say whether they are all “treatable.” The good news? Most of them are manageable. For example, things like behavioral therapy and medication can help people with ADHD manage their symptoms and lead calmer, more normal lives without feeling overly distracted by their symptoms.
Be very careful of providers or treatments that claim to “cure” neurodivergence. At Spectrum Connections Therapy, we are neurodiversity-affirming and trauma-informed in our approach. Therefore, we would never seek to change or “cure” any conditions. However, if some aspects of autism are getting in the way of a person meeting their goals, then we would help the person tap into identifying their strengths and then support them in using those strengths to fill in any learning gaps they need to live the life they desire.
If someone you know is neurodivergent, it’s important to be patient and try to see things from their perspective. Remind yourself that they have a different way of thinking and processing information, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Different is good! Celebrate the spectrum of differences.
If you’re interested in learning more about our approach to supporting neurodivergence, or if you’re trying to manage your own condition, feel free to contact us for information or to set up an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you about how we can be of support.