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Advocating For Neurodiversity – Adapting A Difference, Not A Deficit Mindset

Written by: Alexis Lynch, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Neurodiversity represents a population of people who diverge from how we see others process information. Information processing from a neurotypical would be that of an "average person." Those identifying as neurodivergent can include people with ADHD, Autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Since the community has grown, there have been other disorders individuals are now identifying themselves as neurodivergent.

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Using the terms "neurotypical" or "neurodivergent" only helps to define where that person is at on a spectrum. Neurodiversity became a popular term in the 1990s, as sociologist Judy Singer raised awareness of the traits of Autism as being different – not a deficit. This movement has helped remove the stigma of specific diagnoses not being seen as a mental illnesses or problem. Therefore, neurodiversity is simply a difference in how these individuals view the world compared to how neurotypical people would.


Recognizing benefits of understanding neurodiversity include awareness of differences between thinking patterns to understand each other better and frame those differences as strengths. The benefits of understanding neurodiversity involve the following:

  • Understanding one another better.

  • Having more awareness of differences.

  • Using those differences as strengths.

Additionally, more understanding helps us learn how to interact with people different from us and advocate for others. Some things that we can do to help support the neurodivergent community are to raise positive awareness in the media, advocate for decreasing stigma and discrimination, help educators understand the alternatives to teaching neurodiverse individuals, and encourage self-esteem. Since the processing can differ for neurodivergent individuals, there is a responsibility to ensure all populations begin to advocate in systemic environments. Integrating this kind of neurodiversity-informed support in the community will hopefully lead to further acceptance of cognitive diversity.


As neurodivergent and neurotypical individuals discover their differences are natural strengths and not disabilities, neurodiversity has gained popularity. It helps highlight positivity on aspects of the self that have been given a negative connotation in the past or as something that will hinder the quality of life. Although symptoms may look similar at times, individuals who experience neurodevelopmental conditions and identify as neurodivergent differ from those diagnosed with a mental illness. One does not grow out of a neurodevelopmental disorder, whereas the mental health diagnosis has the potential for change. Despite its permanency, with proper support, neurodiverse individuals learn how to use their differences as strengths, adjust where differences aren't working well for them, and advocate for themselves and others.


Neurodivergent individuals possess certain strengths and traits in the workplace that can make them competitive candidates. In addition to offering a fresh perspective, these individuals can hyperfocus on tasks, contemplate innovative solutions to challenges, and possess exceptional ability to recognize patterns and behaviors. As with anyone, some qualities that may feel like weaknesses are being different from their peers, inflexibility, social communication difficulties, educational difficulties, issues with executive functioning, and sensory sensitivity.


Individuals are unique, and so are their experiences. The symptoms and characteristics discussed are incomplete but a highlight of information to help raise awareness on neurodiversity. If you want to discuss your experience, contact a counselor specializing in neurodiversity by checking out here to find other therapists in your area. Start your journey to embrace your strengths and abilities while understanding your differences.


Visit my website for more info!


 

Alexis Lynch, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Alexis Lynch is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida. She specializes in neurodiversity and encourages the community to incorporate a "difference, not a deficit" mindset. Lynch is neurodivergent herself and feels this assists in the therapeutic process and client relationship. Lynch empowers her clients to utilize their strengths to work toward self-discovery and find comfort in feeling uncomfortable to gain confidence when met with challenges. The client can feel more present in their lives and reduce their anxiety by gaining this confidence and a newfound sense of self.

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