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Normalizing Neurodivergence

Updated: Jan 8

There is no such thing as normal. But, for too long, our society operated as if there were. Finally, we are realizing how wrong and damaging that mindset is. Everyone is different. Every brain is a unique mapping of one person’s thoughts, memories, and emotions. There is no standard when it comes to “normal.” Normal was most likely a word that was used to make people feel comfortable. To make it seem like they had control over their, and others’, destiny. But there is no right or wrong brain.


For some of us, those who are now adults, we may have known something was off, but there was no explanation to be found. We may have done well in school, seemed well-adjusted, and that’s all that mattered. Others may have been labeled troublemakers or put into a class for kids who weren’t grasping things the same as their peers. Unfortunately, many did not get the help or patience they needed. Then, more than twenty years ago, a seedling of a movement began. Judy Singer coined the word “neurodiversity.” A few years later, Kassiane Asasumasu (formerly Kassiane Sibley) gave us the term “neurodivergent.” Over the years, those who are not neurodivergent became known as neurotypical. Although, one wonders, what is “typical?” When using the words, remember diversity means a group. So, neurodiversity refers to a group of people. Neurodivergent refers to an individual. I’ll also say these are the standard terms as of writing this. What is Neurodivergence?


One in nine eight people, or around 15-20%, are neurodivergent. This term also covers a wide variety of conditions. Some of the most common examples of neurodiversity are autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and dyslexia. But it also includes Tourette’s, dyspraxia, synesthesia, dyscalculia, Down syndrome, epilepsy, and chronic mental health illnesses such as bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and depression. These conditions run the gamut in how they present and are managed. In some cases, neurodivergence presents in fascinating ways. In the case of synesthesia, the person experiences one of their senses through another, for instance, hearing music when looking at shapes. Dyscalculia affects a person’s ability to understand number-based information and math. So, why is it so varied? Neurodiversity simply means the brain works differently than what is thought to be typical. In some conditions, this might be obvious. Epilepsy presents with seizures, Tourette’s with uncontrolled movement and sound, and Down syndrome has significant markers. Other conditions, like ADHD, dyslexia, and some forms of ASD, may go unnoticed for years or even for life. Although, there is more hope for a diagnosis now. At some point, there may be new terms for the types, but for now, neurodivergence covers them all. Real-World Examples Here are a few examples of how a neurodivergent brain would respond in a situation versus a neurotypical one.


  1. Given a task to complete

  2. Is given an instruction


Is Neurodivergence a Disability? Neurodiverse conditions are considered a disability under U.S. and UK law, thus preventing discrimination in the workplace. Socially, we encourage people to define it for themselves. A person in a wheelchair may not see their condition as a disability. The same goes for any neurodiverse person. Neurodivergence in the Workplace and at School If you are neurotypical, you may not completely understand the behavior of the neurodivergent person. Why don’t they just begin the task? Why are they asking so many questions? Why are they staring at me? We need to remember that someone may not understand how you do things, either. We must shake off “right and wrong” ways of approaching tasks, conversations, habits, etc. We need to start accepting and normalizing that everyone approaches situations differently. Even if you are neurotypical, you may process information and approach planning differently than another neurotypical person. This stems from every brain being unique — from years of nurturing, social interactions, and plain old DNA. We hope the stigma around being neurodivergent disappears and that neurodivergent people can access what will help them thrive. When given a tool that levels the playfield, a neurodivergent person will prosper and grow without obstacles that can lead to frustration and, too often, giving up. Learn how the THRIVE app, using proven visual planning and emotional regulation, gives neurodiverse and visually-minded people the leverage they need to be successful.

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