Tag Archives: Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity: What I Like About My Neurodivergence #AtoZChhallenge

Welcome to day 14 in teh #AtoZChallenge. Phew, I completed half the challenge already. Today’s letter is N and my word for today’s post is “Neurodiversity”. Neurodiversity is the concept whereby people with different neruologies, such as autistics, are still equal. People who support neurodiversity value autism and other similar conditions as neurological variations rather than disorders.

I for one appreciate neurodiversity. I am not a radical supporter, as I do see autism and such conditions have clear disadvantages. However, I support the social model of disability in this respect. As such, I see autism as a disability, not just a difference, but not a disorder either.

I am neurodivergent. I am formally diagnosed autistic and self-identify with a couple other neurodivergent conditions. Today, let me share what I like about my neurodivergence.

First, I like my ability to perseverate on things I truly feel passionate about. I do not have one special interest that I’ve had for life. Rather, I’ve had many over the course of my lifetime. However, when I have a special interest, I can really be passionate abut it. Unfortunately, I don’t have one now.

On a similar note, I like my ability to hyperfocus. If I want to get information about something, I will fully dive into it. For example, when my husband and I were discussing moving out of area, I had no trouble comparing all the community care policies for the different cities we were thinking of moving to.

I like my “splinter skills”. This is what professionals call areas in which autisitc people have a lot of knowledge that is out of line with their general intellectual ability. Though my general intellectual ability is above-average already, my calendar calculation skills at least used to be far better. They’re not as good now, unfortunately.

What special talent do you possess?

Neurodiversity #AtoZChalenge

Welcome to another day in the A to Z Challenge on autism. I can’t believe we’re halfway through the challenge already! Today, for the letter N, I will explaint he concept of neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity refers to the idea that autism, bipolar disorder and other neurological or mental disorders are not inherently pathological. Rather, they result from normal variations in the human genome and should be seen as natural ways of being and self-expression. The diversity of neurotypes need therefore be seen as similar to the diversity in gender expression, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

The neurodiversity movement rejects the idea that autism and other neurological conditions need to be cured, or even that they can be cured. It sees one’s neurological type as an essential part of one’s being, and therefore, changing someone’s neurotype will change their essence.

Some people within the neurodiversity movement say there is no such thing as a neurodiverse person. Rather, neurodiversity encompasses all people of all neurological types, including so-called neurotypcal people.

Neurodiversity activists see the spectrum of neurological expression as a sort of bell curve, whereby on the edges are people who are often seen as too impaired to accommodate. Yet these people might provide the cues to solving important problems or might be exceptionally able to contribute in a specific way. Some extremist neurodiversity advocates even see autistic people as somehow evolutionarily advanced.

Neurodiversity activists, for clarity’s sake, do advocate for supports for autistic and otherwise neuroatypical people. They embrace the social model of disability, which sees disability as originating from a lack of accommodation for people with impairments, rather than from the impairments themselves. Neurodiversity activsts advocate for inclusive education, independent living supports and occupational training which allows the autistic or otherwise neuroatypical person to remain as they are rather than conform to a majority view of “normal”.

A problem with neurodiversity and the osicla model of disability is that autism and other neurological disorders do impair people, whereas for example being gay or a person of color does not. They are often also the more capable autistic people who advocate for neurodiversity. This may lead some people to an exclusionist approach, whereby “high-functioning” autistics do not need a cure whereas “low-functioning” autistics do. I advocate looking at what symptoms are inherently impairing and what symptoms are not, rather than saying that certain people need a cure and others do not.

Four Things I Wish Parents Knew About Neurodevelopmental Disorders

A few days ago, Natasha Tracy of Bipolar Burble wrote an interesting list of things she wishes parents knew about mental illness. I am going to use this list as inspiration and write a list of things I wish parents knew about neurodevelopmental disorders.

1. Neurodevelopmental differences exist. Whether they are disorders, is a societal controversy that you as a family cannot solve. If your child exhibits behaviors that get them in trouble, you may view them as just part of their individuality. That is great! However, please note that your child’s neurology will not change by the way you view it. If your child gets stuck, that’s a sign that they need help whether you like to admit it or not.

2. Neurodevelopmental disorders are not your fault. Your child’s neurology is not something you caused by anything you did or didn’t do (unless you as the mother drank or used drugs during pregnancy). Whether your child’s neurology leads them to get in trouble at home or at school, is related to the interaction between their neurology and the home or school enviornment. You (and the school) can make positive changes there.

Most adults feel their parents did things during their upbringing they would’ve liked to be done differently. However, you probably do the best you can. If you start feeling powerlessness and exhibiting behavior you regret, it is time to seek support.

3. Seeking help is not a weakness. It is in admitting our limitations that we show our strength, in this sense. If your child is unmanageable, it is better to seek help than to treat them harshly or to indulge into their every wish. You are not a bad parent for needing help with your child. Again, the child’s behavior is a result of an interaction between their neurology and the environment. Especially if your child is having trouble in school too, this is a sign that it’s more their neurology.

4. A diagnosis is a label, not a verdict. Your child with an atypical neurology might need a diagnosis because of the need for services. This does not change who they are as an individual. Neurodevelopmental disorders affect children and adults of all intellectual levels and personality types, and there are so many different aspects to neurodiversity that no two children with the same diagnosis are alike.

Because of the way the school system worked when I grew up, a diagnosis for me would’ve been a verdict in a way. I hope this has changed now.

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