Neurodivergent: What it is & Understanding the Symptoms

Neurodiversity is a relatively new concept. You might be curious to know what is neurodivergent.1

A neurodivergent human is someone who doesn’t fall into the category of normal. To understand this concept, one must understand neurodiversity.

The term ‘neurodiversity’ was coined by the sociologist Judy Singer, in 1998. This term aims at redefining ‘abnormalities’ as variations of brain function.2

The neurodiversity movement tries to remove the mistreatment and stigma associated with people who have Autism Spectrum Disorders(ASD),  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD), or any other brain-related diversities.

Usually, such conditions were labeled as abnormalities of the brain. This makes people view these conditions in a bad light.

This treatment often leads to negative impressions and unnecessary categorizations. Judy Singer wanted to bring about a change in the way the classifications like ‘disabled’ were used to label people with Autism.

Just because someone else’s brain works differently doesn’t make them ‘Disabled’. One needs to accept that Autistic brains and non-Autistic brains work differently.

The concept of neurodiversity arises from brain imaging.3 Some children are inherently different, they have different mechanisms for their brains, which differs from their peers.

Neurodiversity includes many neurological conditions other than autism.

You might be familiar with children who are Dyslexic. Such children have a hard time in classrooms and take more time learning and performing tasks.

The neurodiversity movement wants to normalize such differences and impart the message that there is nothing wrong with neurodivergent people.

1. What Does Being Neurodivergent Mean? What are its Different Forms?

Knowing what neurodivergent means is important. People who have a less typical cognitive variation are called neurodivergent. Their intellectual functioning varies from neurotypical people.

Different forms of neurodivergence:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Synaesthesia
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Meares-Irlen syndrome
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Dissociative Personality Disorder
  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • OCD
  • Dyspraxia
  • Schizophrenia,
  • Anti-Social Personality Disorder

Some people have two or more neurodivergent forms, such people are identified as multiple neurodivergent4. Individuals can recognize themselves as neurodivergent without a formal diagnosis.

Also, neurodivergent people do have a positive side. The neurodiversity movement focuses on the benefits of neurodivergent people. For instance, people with ADHD exhibit elevated thinking, passion, and drive.

Neurodivergent people spend a lot of time fitting in. Be it a work environment, or a classroom, such individuals find it hard to satisfy social standards. This adversely affects their mental health and performance.

2. Why Do Neurodivergent People Need a Good Work Environment?

Creating a good working environment can help neurodivergent people be productive and keep stress at bay.  This is why it is key to understand what being neurodivergent means.

Employers should take note of the different types of workers5 and assign tasks accordingly. Allow flexibility in schedules and give an ambiance that welcomes everyone.

Instead of focusing on what a person lacks, center your attention on their positive aspects. Dyslexic people have a better understanding of visual information than typical people. This quality can help in engineering and graphics.

There is a lot of difference between the terms “people with autism” and “autistic people”. The neurodiversity movement tries to change the ambiance of working environments to suit all kinds of people. For this, you need a better grip on what is neurodivergent.

3. What are the Top Causes Behind Neurodivergent Conditions?

The reasons behind neurodivergent conditions6 are:

  • Genetics
  • Trauma
  • Immune disorders
  • Infectious diseases
  • Nutritional factors

Neurodevelopmental conditions and mental health conditions can occur hand in hand. Building a society that accepts neurodiverse people is essential and just.

One may treat conditions like Savant syndrome or Hyperthymesia as a boon. Remember, those are neurodiverse conditions. So there is scope for not having prejudices about any conditions. Treat every aspect of human brains equally.

4. Neurotypical People

Just like knowing what is neurodivergent, understanding neurotypical people is also essential.

Individuals who have typical cognitive abilities and development are called neurotypical. This term is the opposite of neurodivergent.

It is also used to describe people, not on the autism spectrum.

Neurotypical people have no issues regarding interactions or conversations. They also have no sensory issues. They possess the ability to adapt.

These people meet social standards in every aspect. They have the same pace as the majority. Neurotypical people show commonly accepted behaviors. They can build connections easily.

5. Benefits of Neurodiversity

While you learn what is neurodivergent, you may come across a lot of negative aspects. The abilities and talents of neurodiverse people are often unrecognized.

Neurological diversity enables us to accept the differences and find the strengths of people whose cognitive abilities are varied.

The positive characteristics of neurodiverse people can amuse you:

  • They can think differently and bring out fresh ideas.
  • They are creative and have an advantage over subjects like mathematics, programming, and so on.
  • Since they are not worried about social standards, they are brave and express themselves fully.
  • They are talented with music. Art, design, and spatial skills are their strong points.

Focus on the bright side and reap the benefits. A lot of people in the world are neurodiverse. These developmental variations are to be celebrated.

The concept of ‘typical’ can change over time. Therefore, cooperate with others and overcome challenges together.

Provide support and medical care to people who need it. Give your best to maintain workplace harmony.

6. Symptoms of Neurodiversity

You can identify a neurodivergent person from the signs and symptoms of neurodiversity:

6.1. Speech Inability

If a child is not showing any signs of speech by the age of 12 months and has poor conversation compared to peers, they are possibly Neurodiverse.

6.2. Lack of Communication Skills

Signs of neurodivergent people:

  • Lack of eye contact
  • Social responsiveness
  • Social play
  • Fixation on certain things
  • Repetitive language
  • Intense interest
  • Focus on a single subject

There are different degrees of neurodivergence. Some people mistake neurodivergence with laziness.

Due to the negative approach of people toward conditions like neurodiversity, people who fall into this category often suffer from mental health disorders and stress.

Neurological differences shouldn’t be masked, they are to be embraced. Protect individuals against disability discrimination.

Neurological differences pose significant challenges as well. Neurodivergent people have difficulty concentrating, time management issues, physical illnesses, and stress.

7. To Sum It Up

Those who have neurological differences suffer a lot in their social circle. You can contribute to a positive change by improving the well-being of each individual and promoting openness and inclusivity.

Learn what is neurodivergent and the various symptoms.

Putting extra pressure on people who are different from you is unsympathetic. Recognize what is neurodivergent and create awareness.

Discover more about health and lifestyle.

8. FAQs

Q. Does neurodiversity constitute a disorder or a disability?

Neurodivergence is a normal variance in neurological development, not a disease or disability. Only when the person’s neurodivergence severely affects their daily functioning and well-being and makes it challenging to negotiate certain elements of life makes them an impairment.

Q. Can people with neurodiversity live happy and successful lives?

Absolutely! By embracing their abilities, getting the right help and accommodations, and finding environments that value diversity and inclusiveness, neurodivergent people can enjoy successful, satisfying lives.

Q. How can I support those who have neurodiversity?

Keep an open mind and learn about neurodiversity. Show understanding and respect for those with neurodiversity. Promote inclusive environments and free discussion about neurodiversity. Keep in mind that everyone may contribute in their own special way.

Understanding Neurodiversity Through Facts & Figures
Icy Health

Read more from us here.

  1. Heasman, Brett, and Alex Gillespie. “Neurodivergent intersubjectivity: Distinctive features of how autistic people create shared understanding.” Autism 23.4 (2019): 910-921. ↩︎
  2. Joel, Daphna, and Anne Fausto-Sterling. “Beyond sex differences: new approaches for thinking about variation in brain structure and function.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 371.1688 (2016): 20150451. ↩︎
  3. Raichle, Marcus E., and Mark A. Mintun. “Brain work and brain imaging.” Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 29 (2006): 449-476. ↩︎
  4. Harrison, Laura. Neurodivergent leadership: Building multiple possible futures through intersectional interdependence. University of California, Santa Cruz, 2019. ↩︎
  5. Josty, I. C., et al. “Grip and pinch strength variations in different types of workers.” Journal of Hand Surgery 22.2 (1997): 266-269. ↩︎
  6. Csecs, Jenny LL, et al. “Joint hypermobility links neurodivergence to dysautonomia and pain.” Frontiers in psychiatry 12 (2022): 786916. ↩︎

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