What is Neurodiversity?

The term “neurodiversity” was coined by Australian sociologist Judy Singer in the late 1990’s.

Similar to how the term “biodiversity” refers to the natural variety within Earth’s ecosystem, the concept of neurodiversity refers to the diversity of ways that human brain structure can develop, which can lead to differences in perception, language and communication, sensory integration, and so much more!

The term “neurodivergent” was coined by Kassiane Asasumasu, a radically neurodivergent and biracial activist. This term helps differentiate those whose brains are pathologized through the Western mental health system from those who have the privilege of being perceived as “normal.”

Those whose brains work in a way that follows the dominant sociocultural paradigm are called “neurotypical.”

A neurodivergent scholar,  Nick Walker , has provided an excellent summary of these terms and how to best use them grammatically in the English language.

Nick has also coined the term “neuroqueer,” which speaks to the intersectionality of being neurodivergent and queer, and how those might intersect and influence one another, or how one might think about intentionally queering ones expression to fight back against both heteronormative and neuronormative cultural standards.

The neurodiversity paradigm asserts that diversity within the way our brains develop and function is not something which needs to be pathologized, cured, or treated by society.

The most commonly known forms of neurodivergence are what the DSM-V refers to as Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Other forms of neurodivergence could include, but are not limited to: dyslexia, dyscalculia, hyperlexia, dyspraxia, Tourette’s Syndrome, sensory processing disorder, complex trauma, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and epilepsy. 

Some individuals, Kassiane included, state that all of what Western culture considers “mental illness” is a form of neurodivergence.

So there you have it!

Your brain is okay, and more than that, it is VALUABLE, just as it is. Neurodivergent brains make connections in different ways, which can lead to creativity and innovation. Human culture benefits from all kinds of diversity, and it is the white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy which has tried for so long to convince us otherwise.

As a neurodiversity affirming practitioner, I want to work with you, to help you understand how your unique brain functions, so that you can cultivate self-compassion, understand your strengths, and figure out how to navigate the world in a way that works for YOU, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else.

If you want to learn more about neurodivergence, including ways to cope with stress, change and transition, emotional regulation, or sensory overwhelm, you can contact me here to schedule a free consultation!

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