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Neurodivergent: Meaning, Symptoms, Types & Support

“My room is the safest place my body has. My mind doesn’t really have a safe place.”
― Anna Whateley

What does being a neurodivergent mean? Can you be neurodivergent and function aptly in day-to-day life? Are you struggling in social situations and finding it hard to cope with crowds, bright lights, or loud noises? There is an underlying cause that leads people to act in a way that diverges from the norm, and it is completely acceptable! An umbrella term named “neurodiversity” that includes different variations of sub-categories is equally important to look at. Under this, you should know the meaning of other terminologies before delving deeper into knowing who is a neurodivergent.

  • Neurodiversity is the understanding that natural variances in the human genome cause different thoughts and emotions to arise in different brains. An individual is not neurodiverse; a group of people is.
  • Neurodivergent: A person whose brain differs or diverges, from the statistical norm. A Neurodivergent individual has a less typical cognitive variation such as Autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia etc. It talks about an individual person who might fall in any age category and may identify as the gender of their preference.
  • Neurotypical: A person whose brain is in line or does not differ from the statistical norm.
  • Neurodiverse: A group of people with different types of brains.

The term “Neurodiversity,” which describes the inherent variations among humans, was developed in the late 1990s by Australian sociologist Judy Singer. It is helpful to define people with different traits and behaviors associated with neurodevelopmental problems alongside the “neurotypical” majority in a non-judgmental manner. It may be comparable to terms like race, culture, class, and gender. When a person’s mental processes, actions, or learning preferences diverge from what is seen as “normal,” or neurotypical, that person is said to be neurodiverse.

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What are Different Types of Neurodivergence?

Neurodivergence can be observed right from children to adult, neurodivergent individuals. Depending on their gender, race, and culture, neurodivergent people express their conditions in different ways, and some neurodivergent people (such as autistic people or those with ADHD/ADD) may conceal their neurodivergent traits in order to conform to society’s expectations of neurotypical behaviour; this is known as Neuronormative behaviour. For those with ADHD, high levels of stimulation are both thrilling and perplexing since they can easily get overwhelmed and overstimulated without being aware of it. Hence, it becomes essential for us to keep an open mind.

Examples of types/labels that come under neurodivergent are: Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Pathological Demand Avoidance or Sensory Processing Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD), Tourette’s Syndrome, Dyslexia, Dyssomnia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Meares-Irlen Syndrome, Hyperlexia, Synaesthesia.

You can also talk to our online psychologist to understand it in an easy way.

Common Signs and Symptoms of being a Neurodivergent

Neurodivergent brain symptoms and signs may be different for adults versus children.

•Finding it difficult to read or write.
•Not responding to their names.
•Dealing with clumsiness.
•Having trouble adjusting to social situations, crowds, bright lights, loud noises, or unexpected noises.
•Trouble concentrating or remaining still.
•Trouble maintaining social skills.
•Finding it difficult to convey their emotions in social situations.
•Lacking the ability to have an effective communication.
•Sensitive to outer stimuli and sensory responses.

How to Support Someone Who is a Neurodivergent?

1. Listen: Listening to them can really help them feel respected and cared for. This would reduce misunderstandings and help them with their confidence.
2. Communicating in ways that are Helpful: Giving neurodivergent people their time and tools to deal with the need to communicate goes a long way. Most of them might prefer written communication over a phone call or face-to-face conversation.
3. Avoid using value-based Labels: Differentiating the manner in which they are identified by using terms like “high-functioning” and “low-functioning” for an autistic individual may hamper their well-being as it makes assumptions about a person’s level of functioning based on how much they act like a neurotypical person.
4. Every Neurodivergent Individual is Unique: Even though they have the same underlying condition, neurodivergent individuals might have quite diverse personalities and interests.
5. Do not Underestimate them: People who are neurodivergent often stand out or appear different due to prevailing conditions, they have exceptional qualities for out-of-the-box thinking.
6. Treating them alike: It is critical to respect them and their circumstances while offering an arm of understanding, similar to how roots of a tree with different structures allow the tree to function and stand tall.

Being neurodivergent should not be seen as a deficit in one’s abilities but rather as a difference in how one perceives the world.

“You’re not defective, Ewan,’ she continued. ‘You’re not broken. You’re not the wrong kind of person. And don’t let anyone in this world tell you otherwise. You and your friends are exactly who they’re meant to be.”
― Chris Bonnello.

Prioritize your mental health by speaking to our mental Wellness Expert at Ganeshaspeaks.com.