Human beings worldwide have variations in their brain chemistry, neurological composition, and ways of thinking. To better understand, we have coined the term ‘Neurodiversity’ to the visible variations, which we usually mistake as a disability or disorder.
Let’s take a better look at this broad concept of neurodiversity and the types of neurodiversity.
What is Neurodiversity?
A sociologist on the autism spectrum herself, Judy Singer, came forward with the word “neurodiversity” to refer to the conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, etc. It was done to remove the focus from referring to the study of human variation in thinking and enacting as disorders or impairments.
Neurodiversity generally refers to the brain differences regarding sociability, mood, attention, learning, and other mental health conditions that result from variations in the human genome. It asserts that neurological differences should be respected and acknowledged equivalent to sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, or disability status.
However, neurodiversity is referred to differently by different organizations. Like the National Symposium held at Syracuse University on neurodiversity, it relates to neurodiversity as a notion that acknowledges and respects neurological differences as other human variations. These differences include Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Tourette Syndrome, etc.
Concept of neurodiversity advocates that autism is a part of the individuals in the autistic community and doesn’t need to be cured. Instead, they should be accepted and cherished in the way they are. Neurodiversity promotes support systems that allow autistic people to live their life as they are, instead of changing to the typical “normal.”
What are Neurodivergent and Neurotypical?
Neurodivergent means having an unusual neurological configuration, making their thinking process and other brain functionalities different from the rest of the masses. It is often coined as a disability or disorder, which is wrong on so many levels.
Neurotypical is used to refer to non-autistic people that are considered “neurologically typical.” This term is coined for people perceived as “normal” and has a typical human neurology and neurological development range.
What is Neurodiversity Movement?
The neurodiversity movement is the attempt to regard individuals in the autistic spectrum as any other neurotypical individual. This movement seeks equality, respect, societal inclusion, and civil rights for neurodivergent individuals.
Autism is not a mental illness, just a consequence of variation in the human genome, and should be considered a social category on par with any other category.
What is Neurodiversity Paradigm?
The paradigm means a “pattern or a model.”
The neurodiversity paradigm views various neurological conditions and neurodiversity similar to any other ethnic or gender diversity. It is a new way of looking at the autistic spectrum and other cognitive variations.
Types of Neurodiversity
Since we want to accept autism and autistic people as considered typical “normal,” we need to know about the types of neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is a broad term and has various branches to it. It includes various contrasts in human brains and their working.
These various types of neurodiversity result from variations in human neurology and should be considered just that- a variation. Following are some types of neurodiversity.
Autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a type of neurodiversity that comprises of complex brain development of the individual. It includes persistent communication challenges, challenges in social interaction, and repetitive/ restricted behaviors.
It differs from person to person in terms of its symptoms and severity of conditions. While some show mild and unnoticeable symptoms, others have prominent autism symptoms which are hard to miss, making them easily diagnosable.
Autistic people generally face issues in comprehending the back and forth communication, facial expressions, and meaningful eye contact, understanding the social stereotypes and thus having difficulties forming a relationship or friendship.
Autistic traits also comprise repetitive or restricted behaviors in children like abnormally playing with toys, either not showing interest, or showing intense interest in abnormal activities that are not normal for similar-aged children.
A close eye on your toddler can tell you if he is a part of the autistic population or not, and it can be diagnosed too at an early age.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD is the kind of neurological disorder most commonly diagnosed in children between 3 to 12. These neurological conditions comprise exceptional levels of hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsive behaviors.
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have a brief attention span, making it hard to focus or concentrate. They get distracted easily and often forget about the task at hand.
Neurological symptoms for ADHD also includes trouble in sitting still for a while, staying completely uninterested in kinds of stuff that the majority of children of that age group find riveting, bouncing their legs, interrupting the conversation of others, getting lost in their mind, answers without even listening to the question properly.
ADHD is one of the types of neurodiversity that can be diagnosed and cured at early ages in children. Since the symptoms are quite evident, it makes the treatment and diagnosis easy with the cooperation of parents.
Tourette’s syndrome is one of the neurodiversity types related to the neurodivergent person’s nervous system. Its symptoms comprise of having tics, either they are motor is verbal.
Tics are sudden twitches, like hiccups in your skin. These are some involuntary actions that a person with Tourette’s syndrome can’t control. Although some individuals rein it in for a while, it should be mentioned that it is quite painful for them too, but they have to let the tic take over in the last.
Motor tics might include eye blinking, mouth movements, head jerk, shrugging your shoulders, and repetitive motions like that. And verbal tics like groaning, throat-clearing, humming, or sounds like that.
Tourette’s syndrome is incurable, but the neurodivergent individuals don’t find it troublesome when their tics are complicated and don’t need medical support.
Also known as “reading disability,” dyslexia is one of the types of neurodiversity that affects the part of the brain which reads and processes the language.
Neurodivergent individuals with dyslexia have a learning disorder that makes it hard to recognize written words and decode them accurately. Relating words and letters to their actual meaning and identifying speech sounds is troublesome for people with dyslexia.
However, dyslexia is not an intellectual disability, and the neurodivergent people with dyslexia have normal brain functionalities and vision. Dyslexia does not define that if a given person is smart or not.
Though its treatment is not possible, early recognition and intervention can help get normal education for neurodivergent people.
Also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD), dyspraxia is a brain-controlled motor disorder that affects motor skills. This is one of the types of neurodiversity which does not affect your brain-power, judgment, or reasoning in any way but may affect your coordination and cognitive skills.
It affects your coordination skills– such as tasks that require balancing, learning to drive any vehicle, or playing any sport. It also affects some of your fine motor skills, like writing or picking an object that fell on the ground.
Dyspraxia can affect your daily-life activities on a major scale, and if you get diagnosed with it, you may have these disorders too:
- Asperger’s/ Autism Spectrum disorder.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
- Depression or anxiety.
It is not possible to cure dyspraxia, but treatments and proper therapies can help improve the motor skills of neurodivergent people.
Hyperlexia is one of the types of neurodiversity that consists of exceptional reading skills found in children.
When a child starts reading books frequently at a very early age, we often mistake it with a gifted ability rather than one of the neurodevelopmental conditions. This is often accompanied by an obsession with numbers and letters far more abnormal than expected from a child of that age group.
Children with this neurodiversity are merely reading the text but cannot comprehend half of what they are reading. While on the other hand, a gifted child can understand the meaning of the text he is reading.
Hyperlexia is in close calls with autism. It has been researched that 80% of the children going through hyperlexia are also on the autism spectrum. Even though the two are strongly interconnected, it is highly recommended not to mistake one for the other.
They are not the same!
Some other Neurological Differences
Discussing all the types of neurodiversity in this short article is not feasible. It is a broad term with variations and branches to it. However, we can at least get acknowledged to them.
Some other conditions such as Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Meares-Irlen syndrome, schizophrenia, OCD, bipolar disorder, and Synesthesia are considered a form of neurodivergence.
A single individual can be subjected to two or more types of neurodiversity. Like a person with autism can also have hyperlexia or dyslexia. It is a general occurrence and considered normal in neurodiversity.
Ways to Support the Various Types of Neurodiversity
Acceptance is the key to supporting exceptional individuals with autism and different types of neurodiversity. Taking them in as they are is the best you can do for them. However, there are some other ways too you can support people on the autistic spectrum.
- Providing occupational training to individuals with motor skills disorder.
- Know that the neurodivergent person is different and understand their medical conditions.
- Provide support systems like inclusion-focused services and independent living support.
- Patiently listen to what they have to say, or if they are having trouble in speech.
- If possible, provide assistive technologies that help them to communicate effectively.
So, we now know the concept of neurological diversity and its various aspects of the neurodiversity umbrella. We know that the differences that we witness in individuals are not deficits or illnesses; it’s just a difference that we should accept.
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