Why the World Needs Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity relates to the way a person thinks and experiences the world.

The thoughts below evolved from a conversation with someone opposed to the theory on another blog. The opposer claimed neurodiversity ignores health problems commonly associated with the neurodiverse condition and questioned how identical twins could have one ND (neurodiverse) twin and on NT (neurotypical or “normal”) twin if neurodiversity is genetic.

I’m currently drafting another paper regarding environmental epigenetics to address the questions about twins, but the first statement, a misunderstanding of neurodiversity, I am addressing here.

Lots of neurodiverse people have co-occurring conditions (Anxiety, IBS, migraines, sensory overload, insomnia, etc.). These things can be disruptive to one’s life and may require medical attention. Nobody is trying to deny these medical conditions are, at best, an inconvenience.

Everyone has a genetic predisposition to some sicknesses, neurodiverse people just have a common list of accompanying illnesses.

The definition of neurodiversity is stretched when we include people under the umbrella who were not “born this way”. This is inaccurate and a problem.

Neurodiversity has opponents. Most opposers I’ve met say “What about X person, who will never live independently? How can you accept that they were supposed to be this way?”

The simple answer – because They ARE “this way”. The person in front of you is the person in front of you. Don’t focus on their flaws or wish for them to be someone else. Support them. Encourage them. Help the person in front of you to be the best person they can be.

Neurodiversity is about accepting people of all neurotypes (typical or otherwise). It doesn’t say that one type of brain is better than any other it simply says “There are a lot of brains in the world with many different strengths and weaknesses and all of them are important and valuable.”

There are people who argue against it, insisting that neurodiverse people are better off “acknowledging their own defectiveness”, instead of trying to love and accept themselves.

So why do we view ourselves in a positive light? Because we need to. We need to accept ourselves so that we can feel good about who we are as people. We are not broken people, less important because of our differences. We are living, breathing humans.

We need different types of minds, thinkers, and brains. To quote one of the greats, Albert Einstein, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Many of history’s great minds, Tesla, Mozart, Hans Christian Andersen, and even Einstein himself, have been noted as having neurodiverse symptomology. Although diagnosing them post life is impossible and speculative at this point.

I want to clarify that not every neurodiverse person will be a Mozart or an Einstein. We’re all over the place with our talents, skills, and abilities (but so are neurotypical people).

When you tell neurodiverse children they are defective they grow up with self-esteem issues, feeling broken and not good enough. If someone tells you that you’re “broken, stupid, or not good enough” your whole life you will begin to believe it.

It is essential that we build these kids (and adults) up so that they can be the best people they can be.

Neurodiverse people have a lot to offer society, but first, we must accept them. Neurodiversity is the key, a tool for acceptance.

The world needs neurodiversity for this very reason. Why is neurodiverse acceptance such a threat to some people?

77 thoughts on “Why the World Needs Neurodiversity

  1. Interesting post. Many of the same reasonings and questions I’ve considered myself. I believe that individuals in general, despite their mindset or wiring, lean towards acceptance in order to validate their “self” or own worth. This in turn pushes them down the road to their lifestyle which they’ve chosen and responded to in accordance with their own genetic foundation and unique life experiences. I think it’s important to first embrace who we are and then decide to follow the norms or choose the lifestyle of the “different” in order to become the person who we need to be. The fear of the unknown will always segregate and in my opinion fear is one of the main emotions that solidifies our beliefs. It’s also my opinion that those who make a difference in this world many times are those who stray from the flock.

    Good post!

    1. Fear is our biggest enemy. Our own fears can leave us stuck, preventing us from taking action. Our fear of how others will respond to us (especially if you have trouble predicting the actions of other people) can lead to self shame. These things we must fight against.

      1. I may have aspergers, no social success, I 43, I’ve had a great life, graduated at 17, life scout, 6yrs in army honorable discharge, got associates degree, I don’t feel disadvantaged just different

          1. A beautiful thought. You would do great if you have the conviction and stand up for yourself. A lot of categorization happens due to human inability to accept his own ignorance and limited thinking. Like the earth was flat, until one voyaged about it. Variability is key to creation and it’s uniqueness. It’s wonders are evidenced in the smallest sea creatures to birds soaring in the skies. All creation has it’s marvel, we are limited in our ability to see or comprehend. So, what’s beyond our comprehension seems `typical’.

  2. “If someone tells you that you’re ‘broken, stupid, or not good enough’ your whole life you will begin to believe it.” They won’t just begin to believe it, they will believe it. And their ND nervous system will internalize it to the degree that, no matter how much success they achieve, they will never find peace, and their mind and nervous system will always respond more to any of those three words, said once, than a string of positive ones said too late in life to matter anymore. 🙁

    1. Despite my extensive education and knowledge, I used to believe I was stupid simply because I couldn’t socialize. This was before I was diagnosed. I had to go through an identity crisis just to accept myself!

  3. “The definition of neurodiversity is stretched when we include people under the umbrella who were not “born this way”. This is inaccurate and a problem.”

    Why do you say this? People can become neurodiverse due to illness, fever, injury, even poison. In many cases, such changes will be permanent. This is a friendly question. I just want to know your thinking on it.

    1. Neurodiversity is the concept that these neurodiverse brain types are a natural evolutionary advantage to the human race. So the concept of neurodiversity has a focus on human evolution and genetics as the causation for the diversity. These causes are not genetic, so it doesn’t seem to apply. HOWEVER I realize brain changes CAN happen after birth but if they do they are no longer genetic. – At least that is how I see it.

  4. (1) I have twins, now adults, in which the boy was diagnosed with Asperger’s. His twin sister did not, but she had an auditory processing issue. As paternal twins, they don’t have to be the same because the genetic blend is different for each child. However, I found a study that said this combination is most common: one twin with Asperger’s and one with auditory processing issues.

    (2) You are absolutely correct when you say that it is more important to accept neurodiversity and be the best you can be. My son was diagnosed in puberty, when he began to have multiple issues. The therapist that diagnosed him had a way of working with Asperger’s kids and he discouraged us from supporting my son’s dream of becoming an engineer because it was “unrealistic.” He quoted studies and general B.S. I finally fired the counselor and took my son to another counselor. She also diagnosed him with Asperger’s. I agreed, but told her that her job was to help him be happy in his own skin. That’s it. I told my son that either he’d been cured or they had the diagnosis wrong. I specifically said “There’s nothing wrong with you.” He stopped seeing himself as defective.

    My son has turned out to be quite happy. He got his mechanical engineering degree and has a full-time job that supports him and his partner in life. Total success! Yes, it can happen! I know many neuro-typical people who cannot attain the profession of their dreams, find a mate, and be happy, yet my son is doing fine!

    1. This is an amazing outcome! All because you PUSHED to find the right help for your son. Can you imagine if everyone would have discouraged him from following his dreams? Where might he be? We need more parents like you!

      1. Oh yes. I have friends who listened to the doctors and applied for disability benefits right off the bat. It’s like telling their adult child that there is no point in trying, because they know you will fail. What is he going to do with the rest of his life? Video games and weed? That doesn’t sound very fulfilling to me…..

          1. At times, we weren’t sure what to do, so my husband and I had our own counselor to help us to know how much to push and what is not appropriate. She really helped us guide him to independence after he got his degree but didn’t look for a job. She was a good coach just for us parents; it took a little tough love, which really helped him in the long run.

  5. I really like what you have to say but don’t think neuro diversity has to be genetic or epigenetic to be valid. I understand neuro diversity to have a developmental component. Personally i would argue mutations can happen from a resilient response to a trauma as muc& as having to be genetic. If I’m scientifically wrong with that supposition doesn’t matter to me. Respect and love trumps science which is only full of paradigms at this point. I think the argument that Iscience justifies a group of people to be abused has led humanity into some real atrocities ilthis happens all the time but it’s really sick

  6. 👏👏🙌🙌 Ben is 8 and high support classic autistic. He ABSOLUTELY deserves to have the opportunity to be the best he can be! Just because he needs a lot of help now doesn’t mean he always will. Either way it doesn’t matter. He’s an awesome kiddo and perfect the way he is!!! Well, almost….he is 8😂😂 Great Post!!!🌻🌴🌷💐

  7. Great post, a truely fantastic read. I’m firmly in the camp that Neurodiverse children should be treated as any other, as much as possible. The more you allow the child to be ‘normal’ the more comfortable in their own skin they become, which is the best you can do for them. We need people to see the world differently so the human race can evolve.

  8. As I read your post, I also thought about research on self-compassion versus self-criticism. Research clearly shows that being kind to ourselves, wanting to reduce our suffering and seeing our common humanity motivates us to action and increases our happiness. Self-criticism achieves the opposite.

  9. I suspect that the world already IS neurodiverse and just doesn’t know it. By insisting on uniformity and resisting being different, we have created a disabled society (we called it “The Establishment” in my day) made up of people who struggle to maintain the status quo every moment of their lives. They turn spiritual science and practice into religion, where everyone is on the same, safe, page of agreement and uniformity.

    A few years ago, I published a series called “Radical Meditation” to rattle the cages of traditionalists who do not realize that the kind of meditation that I teach, which is based on surrender to God/Truth, was the original meditation. It was ‘people’ that turned it into a big effort, and a willful and unnatural process.

    It eventually came to be that someone with a ‘disability’ could not be initiated into this practice, but in spite of my own disability, I was initiated. Now, after decades of practicing this meditation, Isee why this rule was made. But those who pressed the issue and made it a ‘tradition’ and an injunction, probably didn’t have a disability! and didn’t realize that we ‘broken’ ones, would be willing to risk obstacles they never dreamed of, in order to pursue it.

    Suffice it to say, that it is my opinion that divergence is the best medicine for a happier, kinder, and more fulfilled world family.

  10. I have never heard the term ‘neurodiverse’ before. Am I right in understanding that the term incorporates the old term of ‘mentally disabled?’

    For may years now, I have thought that people with Asperger’s, Schizophrenia, and other sorts of mentally different conditions, have a unique skill set missing in so called ‘normal’ people. It is a shame that the rest of society doesn’t harness their special abilities…they have so much to offer in the use of ‘senses’ that we mundane people do not have.

  11. I absolutely agree with you on this post. People who are neurodiverse shouldn’t be viewed as any less normal than the rest of humanity is. This is my first time hearing about this, and the concept is still a bit blurry to me but I will make sure to learn more about it because I think it is a cause worth fighting for. I don’t see why anyone should be forced to think of themselves as defective and abnormal. People are always trying to dictate what others should believe and think about themselves and I don’t think they have any right to do so.

    1. I love your thoughts! I have spoken to someone with OCD who considers themselves neurodiverse. They said they owe their perfectionism to their OCD and use it to their advantage (but only learned to do so after being DX). I think it is perfectly acceptable for people to “Opt out” of neurodiversity if they don’t feel it applies to them. Just wanted to share another story because I have been pretty obsessed with different perspectives.

  12. I love the terms neurodiversity and neurodivergent! I was diagnosed as Bipolar when I was forty. Before that, I just viewed myself as a-typical in many ways. The diagnosis was devastating at first because of all the stigma associated with it, but now I view is as another way of understanding myself. I am proud to be neurodivergent. I see and interact with the world in a unique way. Thank you for your words and your art.

  13. I like your entire blog. I adore difference discussions. Everyone’s free to express themselves in every possible way which doesn’t affect others (in a bad way). Usually the stupidest people have no brakes when it comes to idiotic expressions and it is so sad. Many people who are for some reason in the background have so much to offer indeed.

  14. Hi, Rebel.

    I love what you are saying here. It’s good to find people with similar passions out there. Thanks for liking my blog post on tutoring expenses and how to save money on them. I’m also posting one tomorrow that has a similar theme to what you’re discussing here. In my work as a tutor it became apparent to me that what we may think of as weaknesses in how others think are actually the differences that keep the pattern fresh and interesting in life.

  15. Hello Rebel, please check out my children’s books, particularly commentary about the lessons re; ADHD and bullying. While they books are designed for young children, the parents/caregivers who read them might pick up a thing or two. — Bob

  16. “Neurodiversity is about accepting people of all neurotypes (typical or otherwise). It doesn’t say that one type of brain is better than any other it simply says ‘There are a lot of brains in the world with many different strengths and weaknesses and all of them are important and valuable.'”

    Well said!

  17. “When you tell neurodiverse children they are defective they grow up with self-esteem issues, feeling broken and not good enough.” Ouch, so painfully true. I suffered through many parent-teacher conferences as a child during which I was discussed as a ‘problem child’ as if I wasn’t in the room. My ADHD was seen as something to be fixed; never mind that my grades were otherwise superlative, I was ‘broken’ and needed to be fixed. Add to this the suffering that goes along with being a gender variant child and you have a child who ended up withdrawing to a pathological level. Only in adulthood was I able to break free of the labels put upon me.

  18. We’re all unique and different, just like everybody else.
    I’ve read a lot of near-death-experience books. I do believe we are born the way we are for a reason–and that reason is not always about us. In fact, most of the time it’s for the benefit of others. The problem is, most of us see ourselves as the center of our little universe and everything to revolve around us instead of understanding that we are just one tiny pixel of a bigger picture.

  19. Neurodiversity is a threat to some people because they can’t comprehend that happiness can be found in ways that are different from their experiences.They want to fit everyone into a round hole when some of us come in squares, triangles, stars, and octagons. Our points don’t make us defective, they make us unique.
    And yet they accuse us of lacking perspective and empathy.

  20. I think that some of the comorbidities could be, IMHO, caused mainly by the constant, long term distress of a hostile environment, not by the inborn neurodiversity. For example, anxiety, depresssion, etc.

  21. Great post. My son have autism. I’ve always told him that you’re not less just different. Your brain is wired differently than mine and that’s fine because we can learn from each other. He was non verbal for most of his life and as his frustation mounted. I told him its okay you can’t talk we just have to find other ways for you to communicate. When he was first diagnosed I was told always presume intelligence. I do and I did except him to understand me. He was diagnosed severely autistic and now he’s high functioning and very independent, excelling in school. Although he is still mostly non verbal he is bright and has alot to offer to the world. I think sometimes we (parents) set limitations on a child with a perceived disability because of our own mindsets. Or because a doctor tells us our child’s
    Limitations. Sonetimes we have to work a little harder, learn a little different but it can be done. Not less just different. Sorry for my rambling lol.

  22. Enjoyed your article. Thanks for sharing the love and opening the world to accepting disability, no matter how big or small. Each person is important and has a place in society.

  23. Wonderful and informative article. I am inspired by how well and openly articulated your thoughts on nuerodiversity! I’m super impressed!

  24. I used to work with autistic teenagers, for about 4 years. There was such a struggle for ALL of them to basically accept the societal view that “something is wrong with them.” They all felt a bit ****ed up as a result of it. In all around them there was no message of acceptance and they could not gain the feeling that they were unique and to be celebrated. Many autistic children are in private schools that are simply not very empathic or concerned with their mental well being.

    I’m not sure if things are getting better. It’s hard to tell. Education as a whole is getting worse in the UK, as is life in general. So it would appear that autistic people will be suffering that and perhaps more keenly so.

    Another random thing… some people in our government and education system have recently been caught holding secret meetings about eugenics!!!!!!!

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