Category Archives: ADHD

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?

Let’s Talk About the Fidget Spinner Craze

This week I check out my first fidget spinner, in an attempt to figure out what all the fuss is about.

Some of us were fidgeting long before the revolving metal discs came whirling into the picture. All of the sudden fidget toys and spinners are everywhere.

As I pick up the small black tool and twirl it between my pointer finger and thumb, I have mixed feelings. The heavy cold metal zings and vibrates, resonating into my fingertips.

On one hand, the whoosh of the quivering metal is soothing. The fan-like rotation is also quite enjoyable, reminiscent of the shimmering pinwheels I adored in childhood.

Spinners are everywhere. They have invaded playgrounds, classrooms, and memes all over the world. Kids collect them like Pogs, do tricks with them like yo-yos, and flinging them across classrooms.

Somehow spinners have caught on, becoming the new “cool toy” and everybody wants one. Completely out of control, the fidget fad is booming, leaving many people who were “fidgeting before it was cool” with mixed feelings.

I hope this will give way to more teachers allowing movement in class.

When I was in school hands had to be still. You were not allowed to play with pencils or strum your fingers, even if you did so quietly.

One teacher, a stern old fashioned woman who seemed to have it out for me, made me sit on my hands to keep them still. I remember the hard wooden chair painfully pressing into my boney knuckles.

At first, when I stopped my hands my legs would jump, bouncing up and down, under the desk. “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” the teacher asked in front of everyone, “You look like you are doing a pee dance. Go to the bathroom or knock it off!”

Keeping my hands under control was hard work.  Eventually, I learned that my hands could be moving under the desk or table, as long as the teacher didn’t notice.

Little has changed. I think best when actively relaxed, allowing my body to move naturally. As an adult you find more acceptable things go play with, rings, necklaces, pens, and cell phones. Holding something in my hand keeps me grounded, helping me to stay present and mindful. Often I will pop and rub my fingers quietly if I find myself empty handed.

When I was young there were no fidget spinners, being the squirmy kids who couldn’t sit still was not cool or trendy either. Funny to see how things have changed.

Is this a door to widening acceptance or simply a gross misuse of a well intended too?

 

 

Where Can I Find That? – Affordable Fidgets

I love sharing my favorite products and finds. From time to time people ask “Where’d you get that?” This week I share some affordable and highly rated fidget / stim tools.

 

 

Think Ink Pen – $12.99 with FREE shipping through Amazon Prime.

  • Made of Premium stainless steel, the magnetic metal pen can be twist, spin, side and flex smoothly and discreetly.

 

 

Flippy Key Chain (2 Pieces) – $7.79 with FREE Prime shipping

  • Pocket sized and durable. The perfect way to stay focused quietly discreetly.

 

 

Fidget Cube – $8.95 with FREE Amazon Prime shipping

  • Made with high-quality plastic, our fidget cube is designed to travel easily in your pocket.

 

 

Fidget Dodecagon – 12 Sided Fidget – $13.99 with FREE Amazon Prime shipping

  • 12 SIDES TO FIDGET WITH: clicker buttons; a joystick; a light-switch flip; a flat, worry stone-like surface; gears and a rolling ball; and a spinning dial.

 

 

Desktop Magnetic Sculpture – $9.99 with FREE Amazon Prime shipping

  • Desktop Magnetic Sculpture with Set of 170 stainless steel balls of different sizes and a magnetic base.

 

 

Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, Mixed By Me Thinking Putty Kit – $19.99 & FREE Prime shipping

  • Kit includes 5 tins of clear putty, 3 color-concentrated putties, 3 special-effects putties, 6 colored pencils, 5 customizable tin labels, & mixing mat.

 

 

Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty – Super Magnetic Strange Attractor – $14.97 & FREE Prime shipping through Amazon.com

  • Deep black with subtle green sparkles, this slightly stiffer Thinking Putty has a mind of its own. Near a powerful magnet it comes alive.

 

 

Elongdi Fidget Spinner Aluminum Durable EDC Hand Spinner – $16.99 with FREE Amazon Prime Shipping

  • Unlike other plastic spinners, this product is made of premium aluminum. It has a brushed Metal face for durability. Grooved design perfectly fits your hand/fingers.

 

 

Vicus Rexx Fidget Hand Spinner – $14.97 with FREE shipping through Amazon Prime.

  • Better Grip Caps & Ceramic Bearings For More Satisfying Spin

 

Filtered – My Sensory Experience

You are only experiencing the world through your own filter,
just like I can only view the world through mine.
We all have many ways to see.
There are differences between you and me.

Little noises in a quiet room. Did anyone else hear that sound?
There is a humming lamp and a high pitched screeching.
I look around at everyone sitting calmly, not a glance or a twitch.
No one else appears bothered, so my headphones come out.

Walking into the big chain store, the lights are bright and make me squint.
If I wait too long my head and eyes will begin to throb.
From my bag I pull a pair of shades, fifty percent tint to wear indoors.
They are one of an assortment of tinted glasses. Most days I have five pair.

Everyday at work I wear a jacket, even if it’s over one hundred degrees outside.
At home I am always bundled in a blanket or a robe.
The feeling of air moving across my arms is extremely uncomfortable.
I need for the temperature to be about eighty degrees to feel alright.

My sense of taste is amazing. My mouth is my favorite filter.
I love food as long as it is flavorful and bold.
Bland foods make me gag, but I love garlic, onions, and spice.
It is easy for me to distinguish ingredients and seasonings in food.

What is that smell? Can you smell that? I love it!
Sweet scents are the best and I find them relaxing.
Household cleaners and chemical products make me queasy.
We are very careful to use natural products in our home.

Most of these things I keep to myself, with my sunglasses on and my earbuds in.
There is almost no point trying to explain it to people.
Unfortunately it is something most of the population cannot understand.
Words don’t do it justice. I don’t know what to say.

People can only view the world through their own filters. I can only view the world through mine.

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What is Neurodiversity? Does it Exclude People with Severe Disabilities?

Neurodiversity – the idea that neurological differences (Autism,  Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, and others) are natural variations in the evolution of the human genome.

Neurodivergent people have brought many great things society.  Attempting to “cure” future disability by preventing neurodiverse people from being born would be tremendously harmful to humanity.

Opponents of neurodiversity argue that neurodiversity conveniently ignores people on the spectrum who need extra help and cannot live on their own or are more severely handicapped by their neurological differences.

First off, many of us aren’t high-functioning enough to benefit from depathologizing autism. The neurodiversity movement doesn’t have much to say about lower-functioning autistics, who are decidedly less inspirational.

Gwendolyn Kansen – Pacific Standard

I want to clarify here why Neurodiversity does NOT ignore or exclude anyone.

What about people who are severely affected? How can that be a natural variation?

Thing’s aren’t that simple and I feel a strong urge to clarify what I’ve uncovered on this topic.

Neurodivergent people, myself included, tend to be more sensitive to chemicals and other environmental contaminants than the rest of the population.

Science suggests that autistic people may have weakened blood brain barriers, allowing toxins to flow into the brain during development.

People who are chemically intolerant often have serious reactions to common chemicals and some become too sick to carry out routine functions. Chemical intolerance affects about 10 percent to 30 percent of the U.S. population. Developmental disorders such as autism and attention-deficit disorder affect one in six children in the United States.

Read the full article here on Science Daily

This puts autistic children at greater risk for chemical brain injury than typically developing children.

Though exposure to chemical may not be the leading cause of brain injury, it can be dangerous to healthy brain functioning. It is not easy to accept the fact that by just being expose to chemicals which are available in the places where we work, in the house, in the garden and in almost every place where we go.

There are different classes of chemicals that could produce substances which could be lethal on the brain.

Full article here at the Brain Injury Institute 

Mothers with chemical intolerances are 2-3 times more likely than other women to have a child with autism or ADHD, according to a 2015 study.

If you’ve been following autism research in recent years, you have probably read—many times—that familial, or inherited, risk is seldom the whole picture. A few inherited genes are sufficient by themselves to cause autism. But most so-called “autism genes” only increase the risk that an infant will go on to develop this developmental disorder. As is the case in many complex diseases, it appears that autism often results from a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers.

This is where epigenetics comes in. Epigenetics is the study of the factors that control gene expression, and this control is mediated by chemicals that surround a gene’s DNA. Environmental epigenetics looks at how outside influences modify these epigenetic chemicals, or “markers,” and so affect genetic activity.

Alycia Halladay, PhD, Autism Speaks director of research for environmental sciences

People with traumatic brain injuries often develop symptoms of Autism and other comorbid conditions such as sensory overload. The similarities are undeniable and the effects look very similar to autism and other natural neurological differences (although they tend to be more severe).

What does it all mean? 

Some supporters of neurodiversity argue that people who are truly disabled by their brain differences pulled the short straw and are just unlucky in the neurodiverse spectrum, but this theory has never felt quite right.

Being neurodivergent does seem to be genetic and it may put you at a greater risk of chemical intolerance and brain injury. Neurodiverse children may be extra sensitive to chemicals in their environment – this could explain why some children develop more severe complications and comorbidities than others.

Only time will tell as modern science uncovers more and more information regarding the human brain and how it works.

So why do we need neurodiversity? More thoughts on the importance of this concept here in a post titled Why theWorld Needs Neurodiversity.