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What is Neurodiversity?

By Aarohi Gami


As a concept, neurodiversity restates what is already known to be true: that an entire spectrum of neurological experiences are experienced. Coined by Australian sociologist Judy Singer, neurodiversity normalizes and celebrates the different ways in which people interact with the world around them.


As a movement, neurodiversity seeks to shift negative perceptions of people who are neuroatypical and provide a balanced idea of their strengths and needs. It enforces the idea that no one way of thinking is the default. The history of how neurodivergent people have been perceived and treated is - to put it mildly - a dark one. Through the framing of neurodiversity as a failing to be cured rather than a natural variation in typical neurodevelopment and function, many neurodiverse people continue to be alienated. By moving away from the dichotomy of normal and abnormal, neurodivergent and neurotypical can both describe the same person, depending on how a certain condition they have affects different cognitive abilities.


As an identity, neurodiversity is a general term. It is not a diagnosis and is not necessarily a disability. Being neurodivergent is intrinsic to the way one’s brain is developed, so it’s not something that can be treated. Many different conditions fit under neuroatypicalness, and with these come a variety of different lived experiences. Neurodiversity isn’t something to be cured. While neurodivergent people may have innate sensory processing issues or struggle with social situations which may disable them to some extent, they are often exacerbated by limited accommodations.



Works Cited

Baumer, Nicole. “What is neurodiversity?” Harvard Health, 23 November 2021, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-neurodiversity-202111232645. Accessed 12 March 2023.

Mardero, Adam. “Darkest Before Dawn: Autism, Ableism, and the Rise of the Neurodiversity Movement.” NeuroClastic, 26 July 2019, https://neuroclastic.com/neurodiversity-history/. Accessed 12 March 2023.

“Neurodivergent: What It Is, Symptoms & Types.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/23154-neurodivergent. Accessed 12 March 2023.

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