Have you ever heard of the term “neurodiversity?” If you’re like me, the word is new, but the concept behind it makes a lot of sense and feels like it should have existed in your vocabulary for a long time now. The Washington Post recently published an article entitled, “In autism, a sense of comfort and identity, not dread” by Sandhya Somashekhar. It talks about how various neurological differences, in particular autism, are just that—inborn wirings of the brain that cause a person to function in unique ways. More and more, people are speaking out about neurodiversity and are advocating for increased awareness of all of the exceptional abilities and challenges that come with a diagnosis such as autism. The overarching goal is for people with autism to be better understood and accepted, not seen as in need of a “cure” or changing who they really are in order to become more “normal.” The neurodiversity movement likens itself to those of gay rights or improving police treatment of African Americans, considering people with autism “a minority group, albeit one with extra challenges that might need accommodating.”
At Thinking Organized, we notice the same trend among our students and parents over the past several years . The lines of communication are open much wider regarding diagnoses such as autism, in which clients are more readily able to embrace themselves for who they are and act as their own self-advocates. Understanding the strengths and challenges of our clients and helping them to find strategies to make difficult tasks a better fit for their distinct learning style is what we’re all about here and is what makes our job so fulfilling. When awareness increases, so can acceptance. It is a wonderful thing when people can acknowledge their individuality and be accepted by others, and knowledge is the first step toward understanding. The “neurodiversity movement” will hopefully continue to spread as more people gain confidence in what makes them special and are unashamed about sharing it with the world. Recognizing that there is no such thing as “normal” and broadening our perspectives as to the endless variety of people living here on earth will help everyone feel important, accepted, and respected.