We all want love and acceptance. Someone who sees the real us and love and like that person. To be loved for the quirks of our character, our funny habits, our unique sense of humour. It is seductive to think that conforming to the norm will get us more love and approval, but conforming comes at a cost that may not be necessary to pay.
Neurodiversity is a relatively new term that came into the lexicon to describe in more positive terms the differences between us that have historically received a ‘diagnosis’. The diagnosis implied that the difference is a deficiency, divergent from ‘normal’ which was seen as something to aspire to be. It is easy to understand how we would all want to be ‘normal’, because ‘normal’ implied approval.
The diagnoses ranged from ASD, or ‘on the spectrum’, as in, the autism spectrum, including Asperger’s syndrome, to ADHD, Tourette’s, Williams Syndrome (describing a hyper social personality), Synaesthesia (people whose senses work a bit differently like hearing colour or seeing sound, like seeing colours associated with letters), even people who are super sensitive both physically and mentally.
So people without a diagnosis would be seen as ‘neurotypical’, the lucky ones!
Well the ‘normal’ ones are lucky only in that the world has been set up to cater to the norm, as in the most typical. Educational systems, workplaces, even social events are designed with the typical person in mind. That may be the most practical, but it had the unintended consequence of making everybody who is different feel that there is something wrong with them, and often supressing their unique ways of seeing the world in order to conform. Round pegs in square holes. Ever tried fitting in where you really didn’t fit? Remember the damage that was done when all lefties were forced to write with their right hands? It is well known that it led to stuttering, bedwetting, low confidence, defiant behaviour, concentration difficulties and fatigue – anything a human would express who felt bitterly unhappy and misunderstood.
The word neurodiverse
The word neurodiverse was first coined in 1998 by an Australian sociologist, Judy Singer (yay Aussies!), who used it in her honours thesis. Shortly afterwards, it was picked up by a US journalist writing in a 1998 edition of The Atlantic, and the term began to evolve from there, gaining a large following in the wonderful world of the internet through blogs, support groups and studies.
Maybe we evolved to be different. Someone had to be the accountants who could spent hours meticulously poring over details, another had to be the hunter to bring home the bacon, another had to be creative and see and taste the world in surprising ways to make all of us aware of how wondrous the world really is. The point is - it takes all kinds to make the world. It takes all kinds to make the world function effectively and interestingly.
Diversity of all kinds contributes to creativity, innovation, exceptional ideas, and unique perspectives. A distinctive mode of perception has certain advantages. By the way, being left-handed possibly had advantages in hand combat, but also is correlated to greater connection between the brain halves, verbal fluency, and an increased ability to be ambidextrous. By the same token, many synesthetes use their abilities to memorise names and telephone numbers, do mental arithmetic, and creative activities like producing visual art, music, and theatre. It really is usually not seen as a handicap.
Neurodivergent people experience, interact with, and interpret the world in unique ways. And that is okay. So be quirky! Be different. We like you just the way you are.
How boring would the world be of we were all the same!!