Neurodiversity is a term coined in the late 1990s by Judy Singer, an Autistic sociologist. Judy argued that diverse neurological conditions and learning disabilities (Autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, hyperlexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Tourette syndrome (TS) – ALL of which are more common in Autistic people) are the results of normal variations in human brain type – Different shades of humanity, I like to say.
In addition to brain types many people are born with, NeuroDiversity also includes brain types we may develop in life (anxiety, depression, trauma-related conditions) that impact the way people interpret, perceive, and engage with the world (and people) around them.
Neurodiversity challenges the prevailing views that neurological diversity is inherently pathological.
Unfortunately, NeuroTypical People, members of the neuromajority, have set up most of society’s systems, which harms NeuroDivergent People because we’ve been prevented from input in developing these systems.
In our recent history, NeuroDivergent People have been pathologized, told we were broken and asked to try harder to fit ourselves into the world (instead of flexing the systems that harm us and ALL humanity). NeuroDiversity asks that we fix the systems and stop blaming struggling people who need more support.
My work, outside of social media (the stuff that “keeps the lights on”) in recent years has been in consulting with organizations and businesses on how they can be truly inclusive by design without excluding NeuroDivergent People (who may not know they are NeuroDivergent but still need help, or who do not wish/feel safe disclosing their NeuroDivergence).
I’ve been asking for Universal Inclusion, or Universal Design concerning NeuroDiversity since I first realized NeuroDivergent People were frequently segregated and excluded in workplaces because they were forced to out themselves to ask for accommodations that weren’t available to their peers who were not NeuoDivergent.
These “disability hiring initiatives” often put those they’re supposed to serve on display, so organizations can look good by “offering jobs to people with disabilities,” but often leave us behind.
When accommodations NeuroDivergent People need are gatekept and reserved only for those with medical proof of those needs, it harms those unaware of their NeuroDivergence (or unable to access medical diagnosis) AND those seeking services, especially if those disabilities are invisible.
In addition to being Autistic, I’ve got a condition that was labeled “hypermobility disorder” (everyone always asks if its EDS, and I WAS referred for that testing but never went since it was not long after I was diagnosed Autistic), which means I’ve had bad knees since I was 11, and had a pass to ride the elevator in school.
In school, because most people were not allowed to ride the elevator (but wanted to) and I WAS allowed to ride it, my peers frequently complained about how “unfair” it was that I could ride the elevator. They also teased me for riding it.
Because of being singled out, othered, and teased, I stopped riding the elevator when people were around and even started taking a longer route to class (with stairs, but fewer people) so nobody could see me struggling to get up multiple flights of stairs with a throbbing knee.
I had a similar experience when I was first diagnosed Autistic and asked for accommodations in the workplace. “It wouldn’t be fair to give you special treatment because EVERYONE would like what you’re asking for,” the HR manager told me when I asked if I could change my work seating arrangement (because the open office and fluorescent lighting were making me physically ill).
Creators don’t have enough control over their platforms or distribution on social media. It is hard (impossible) to keep communities safe on large unrestricted public platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which is why I’ve recently started writing on Substack (so my readers are not at the mercy of the social media algorithms that selectively share content).
I’m creating a new community outside of social media on Substack (where I can have more control over my space), and I hope you’ll join me as a free member (but I also have paid subscriptions if you want access to bonus content).