Why Celebrate Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is the biological fact that there are normal variations in the human brain. It is a fact and should not be argued. Putting the fact aside, the concept of neurodiversity supports the position that neurological differences such as autism, ADHD, bipolar, epilepsy, dyslexia and dyspraxia to name a few should be celebrated. It challenges those who believe that neurodivergent (ND) people need to be fixed.
Now as I see it, there are two sides to this argument. While my children are affected by their neurodivergence, I can absolutely highlight the gifts they have. I am fortunate in that both my children are verbal and can take care of their bodily needs. If I knew my children would require lifelong care, perhaps I wouldn’t look so positively at celebrating neurodiversity. I say this because I do understand and acknowledge that there are parents out there who are unable to celebrate.
However, here is my argument for the celebration: neurodivergent people know they are different. Often neurodivergence is seen in a negative light, and doctors, therapists, family and friends saddle ND people with low expectations. This can make the ND person inherently believe that their differences make them less than, that they will not succeed in life and that there is no hope. The truth of the matter is that while neurodivergence comes with some struggles, it also comes with some gifts, and those gifts need to be recognized. If we focus on the gifts of ND people, they can absolutely thrive in this world. We need these people and the gifts they bring, as I believe they are essential to our future. ND people tend to be more creative, inventive, passionate, and focused. They could be the game-changers of the world if we support them and help them thrive. Who is anyone to decide what is normal or acceptable in this world?
We need to offer ND people support, scaffolding in the workplace, assistive technologies, understanding and empathy. We need to make our environment suitable for the neurodiverse human group, both neurotypical (NT) and ND people alike. While the hardcore neurodiversity movement doesn’t believe in changing the ND person with therapies and medications, I am of a different belief. If therapy or medication is going to make the ND person happier, then I am all for it. ND people need to adapt to the environment (this is basic human survival), but NT people absolutely need to make the environment adaptable for the neurodivergent. We are making great strides in this area, but there is more to be done.
So, back to my question: why celebrate neurodiversity? Because neurodivergent people need it and deserve it. Being different from the norm is not easy. There are daily and lifelong struggles to overcome, but there are also amazing gifts that go along with being neurodivergent. I never want my children to feel less than. I would rather them be able to hold their heads up high and say, “I’m neurodivergent, I’m awesome, just watch and see me thrive.”
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