I think that we can all agree that no one person is like another. We are all unique, talented, gifted, and special in our own way. We are all neurodiverse!
The word neurodiverse or neurodiversity has been gaining in popularity over the last several years when being used to describe individuals labeled with “special needs”, especially those who fall under the umbrella of autism. When used on its own, I personally love this term, as it describes perfectly how we are all unique individuals with our own unique sets of gifts and talents. Let me explain.
Neurodiverse should mean that neurological differences or natural differences are recognized and respected as human variation. In other words, humans do not come in a “one-size fits all” package! We ALL have differences in our neurological function and structure (brain to body) making ALL of us unique and anything but “neurotypical”/ “normal”.
Let’s look at the roots of this word. The first half to the word is “Neuro” which comes from the word neurology. Nerve cells, along with nerves, spinal column, brain…etc are all parts of the nervous system, which makes up neurology. You have nerve cells that receive information from your environment. This is what you see, hear, feel, taste, touch…etc This informations is communicated through your nerves to your brain. Your brain processes the information and produces output back through your nerves to your muscles/body.
Do we all view our environment the same? No! We would likely be robots if we did. Our different views come from the differences in our brain processing methods, thus producing varying outputs. Some people are gifted with faster neurological responses such as athletes. This also means that athletes’ brains are different than non-athletes’ brains. Similarly, an artist has giftedness in neurologically seeing dimension, shape, and color along with the neurological responsiveness that produces the fine motor skills or steady hand needed to create the art we enjoy. Guess what? An artist’s brain is different than a non-artist’s brain. What about a mathematician or a scientist? Same type of neurological difference or giftedness applies. You can have two people, in the same environment, with the same neurological input, but have two different brain interpretations, creating two different responses.
The second half of our word is diverse which means differing from one another. I am different from you and you are different from me. We are all individuals! Our perception of the world around us, fostered by experiences and unique giftedness makes us diverse. Our brains make us diverse! With advancements in technology, that allows for precise brain scans, are showings that our brains are almost as diverse as our fingerprint. We are fascinating creatures!
Our culture is trying to divide neurodiversity into “neurodiverse” (autism) and “neurotypical” (everyone else). This is a sad division. If I have learned anything, I have learned that my “labeled” friends are amazing with SO much to give, and they CAN make a difference in the world, if given an opportunity with the right tools and resources to do so. They are real! Real, not broken, people who embrace your neurodiversity. Will you embrace your neurodiversity and theirs?