What is Neurodiversity?
An important part of learning how to support your child’s development is learning about neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is a word that first came into use in the 1990s. It comes from combining the words neurological and diversity, and it refers to the differences among all people in how our brains work that cause us to experience and engage with the world around us in different ways. Neurodiversity also embodies the viewpoint that these differences in neurology and behavior are not deficits or deviations – that there is no single right way of thinking, behaving, or being.
The neurodiversity movement is a human rights movement that has emerged in the 21st century to champion these ideas and enact changes in our society and our culture. Words like “neurodivergent” and “neurodiverse” are part of the neurodiversity movement and signify a transformation in how we view neurological differences. These words are often used to refer to individuals or groups of people with neurodevelopmental differences, and these words carry with them the important principles of equity and inclusion that are part of the neurodiversity movement.
This movement has also led to an approach to healthcare called neurodiversity-informed intervention. This type of approach means offering support for a person’s learning and development while at the same time not attempting to change personal characteristics, unless those characteristics cause discomfort or harm to the individual. It also means addressing, whenever possible, any extrinsic factors in the environment that may contribute to negative experiences. An important part of neurodiversity-informed intervention is understanding the strengths, preferences, and values of the individual and taking steps to honor what the individual would like for their own life.
Understanding neurodiversity means, above all, recognizing that every human being brings unique gifts to the world. When we can see a child’s unique characteristics as potential gifts and opportunities, we open the door for that child and all who know them to do the same. Every action you take to support the neurodiversity movement will make an important difference to your child and to the world.