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What is “Neurodivergent”?

Neurodivergent is a term derived from the term “Neurodiversity” which was coined in 1998 by Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist, who used it to express that human brains (and cognitions) are vastly different and can develop in unique ways. This way of thinking was (and still is) contrary to the stages of development that have been used to determine if a child is delayed and may need intervention Recognition of neurodiversity challenges the concept that there is a "right" way for a person to think and develop.

Neurodivergence (being Neurodivergent) differs from Neurodiversity in that Neurodiversity refers to the fact that different neurotypes exist while Neurodivergence is a divergence from what is considered typical. There are many “disorders” and developmental differences as well as disabilities that fall under the Neurodivergent umbrella. The list is always subject to change as we learn more about development, learning styles, communication, and negative symptoms that many Neurodivergent people experience.

Below is a visual of many of the types of Neurodivergent brains although it is certainly not a complete list.

Pictured above: colored bubbles surrounding a white infinity symbol over a rainbow watercolor background.

Incomplete List of Neurodivergent Types:

  • ADHD

  • Autism

  • Sensory Processing Difficulties

  • Borderline Personality Disorder

  • OCD

  • Tourette's

  • Dyslexia

  • Learning Differences

  • Down's Syndrome

  • Developmental Differences

  • Mood Disorders

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Trauma

Neurological studies of Autistic brains have offered great examples of the variety of physiological brain development in Neurodivergent people.

Some studies have found neural pathways in young children diagnosed with Autism to be ”thicker” than that of their neurotypical counterparts. Another study on Autistic brains found that they have extra synapses when compared with neurotypical brains.

A great article on synapses and synaptic pruning in Autistic brains (read here) explains that Autistic brains do not go through “synaptic pruning” like neurotypical brains do during early development.

The ability to name these natural variations (as Neurodivergence) in the way that people develop, think, interact, learn, and pretty much do everything helps to reassure us that we are not sick or wrong; but that the world is just made for a specific group of people without consideration for these natural variations.

Below are a list of some websites and organizations that work to advocate for Neurodivergent awareness and provide resources.

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