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Neurodiversity in Our World

By: Jennilyn Mi Nguy

March 15, 2023

Neurodiversity is the idea that people interact and perceive the world in different ways, forming the foundation for the concept that there is no one right way of thinking and everyone processes information and stimuli in a variety of different manners. While neurodiversity applies to everyone as a concept, it is most used in the context of referring to the destigmatization of neurodivergence. Many people with neurodivergent disorders experience issues with executive function, and this can cause them to struggle with memory, attention span, and impulsivity. Because of this, people may be inclined to believe that they are strange or don’t adhere to societal norms, resulting in a negative connotation among them. However, it is important to keep in mind that being neurodivergent isn’t a bad thing; it is something that occurs naturally within people and should not be seen as a derivation from the norm in any way. While the neurodiversity movement advocates for the acceptance of neurodivergence as something that is universally normal and equal as opposed to a problem or burden that needs “fixing,” it is still notable that those who are neurodivergent are impaired by the limitations and accommodating nature society sets upon them. The social model of disability is the concept describing how disability as a result of neurodivergence is a result of an unaccommodating environment in comparison to an individual’s traits rather than being a result of their medical condition. Inclusive environments would allow for accommodations to all peoples regardless of medical condition: similarly to how signs and technologies and building structures are made to accommodate physically disabled peoples, those who are neurodivergence should be able to receive the same amount of support to live equally with those who are deemed neurotypical. Universal design is the idea of how an environment should be designed so that it can be accessible to anyone, regardless of their age, gender, disability, or physical traits.

Creating an inclusive environment begins within your own community, and with yourself. The words you say around other people can have a heavy impact on them, and it is always important to know the meaning of the words you’re saying; any misuse of words can lead to misunderstandings from the other party and affect their state. Similarly, it is also important to note that it’s not just the words that you’re saying that matter, but also the way that you say them. Referring to either one’s person or one’s identity, known as the first language approaches PLF and IFL respective, is something that people often intermix, but it is also notable to note that, to some, one method may be preferred or one even uncomfortable. With PFL focusing on the person rather than condition, so some it may acknowledge the person and their condition as separate entities rather than the person “being” the condition; however, to some, PFL separates the person from their condition, implying that it is a bad thing, and to those people, IFL is often preferred, which focuses on their disability being a part of their identity and something they should be proud of. Regardless of one’s preference, always keep in mind that no two people are the same and that everyone can respond differently to the same approaches, so keeping an open mind and paying attention to others’ reactions is a must.

Discrimination against neurodivergent people often stems from ignorance and a variety of misconceptions that would alter one’s way of viewing those who are neurodivergent. With many misconceptions surrounding neurodivergence carrying a negative connotation and painting neurodivergence in a negative light, many people fail to look past stereotypes and learn about how being neurodivergent actually affects one’s person, and, at the end of the day, learning more about the neurodiversity movement and neurodiversity itself so that you can educate yourself and others is the best thing that you can do in order to help create a more accessible world.

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