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What does Neurodivergent mean and What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is really the idea that our neurological differences are based on a human genome, our DNA, rather than a disorder, a pathology, a problem that needs to be fixed so we can be more like everyone else. I have written on this page

Neurodiversity is really the idea that our neurological differences are based on a human genome, our DNA, rather than a disorder, a pathology, a problem that needs to be fixed so we can be more like everyone else. I have written on this page here about all the people with diagnosed disorders who could view themselves as neurodivergent. If you checked my page I just gave you, you will see that many people fall under the category of neurodiversity.

Neurodivergent is the name we can use to describe all of us whose neurological development and the way we live in the world is atypical.

While writing this blog, I can’t help but feel like I’m revealing something about myself. Interestingly, many of my friends and colleagues might react with a chuckle and say, “Laura, we already knew this about you.”

Just because some of my friends and colleagues may have already sensed this about me doesn’t mean that I was prepared to admit it or that I could easily change my perspective from seeing it as a disability or something to be ashamed of.

I was initially introduced to this concept by my daughter’s pediatrician 21 years ago while she was being diagnosed with ADHD. As an adoptive mom, I attributed this condition to genetics, but in just a brief office visit, that doctor pinpointed my own ADHD. I sat in shock in his office and then convinced myself he couldn’t possibly be correct. That marked the beginning of my personal journey into understanding and accepting my neurodiversity.

Several decades ago, I felt very alone with this observation from the doctor, and I honestly didn’t know what to do with it or even how it mattered. And do you know why? Shame. Its gift has been both a burden and a legacy in my life. My ADHD had made me a warrior. I felt I had to be a warrior to prove to people that I could be a success, despite the challenges. The teacher who said I didn’t try hard enough, the friends who found me both outlandish and probably offensive, and the world that needed me to fit the mold of being neurotypical all influenced how I felt about myself.

I have spent 25 years raising neurodivergent children, 7 of my own, and many, many foster children over my 20 years as a foster parent. I worked hard to be an advocate and teach those around me about my children’s needs, yet denying and avoiding my own neurodivergent brain. I am being really vulnerable here because I have now begun to turn that compassion and understanding inward. I also more deeply know why I have been on a journey as a warrior and passionate advocate for children and families.

Well, firstly, I am exhausted from trying to be neurotypical, and feeling I am less than, or embarrassed of something I can not always control. Stay tuned for how my ADHD is my superpower.

In the meantime, how can we be respectful, inclusive and promote a world in which we do not see things one way or another. One of the things I try to teach my clients, is how can we live in the gray more.

Changing the way we perceive neurodiversity is important for several reasons. (h3)
Firstly, many individuals, like myself, have experienced exhaustion from trying to fit into a neurotypical mold, which can lead to feelings of being “less than” or embarrassed about something beyond our control. Stay tuned for my upcoming blog where I’ll share how my ADHD is my superpower.
In the meantime, here are some key ways we can be more respectful, inclusive, and create a world where we don’t categorize things in a binary (one way or the other) manner:
Embracing Neurodiversity is an embrace of authenticity, a shift away from the notion of something to be fixed. In my life, one of my dearest treasures is my Autistic son, a soul who reveals his essence unapologetically. He may not speak in words, but in the language of his being, he communicates profound truths. His every gesture whispers, “I know who I am, I know what I love. How can that be anything but a profound gift?”

Educate ourselves- take the time to read and understand more about neurodiversity. Know how neurodivergent folks show up with strengths and challenges, just like everyone else. If you haven’t go here (link from above)

Promote open conversations – When you’re uncertain, don’t hesitate to ask. Your questions become bridges to understanding and are profoundly neuro-affirming. Through them, we connect with the rich tapestry of lived experiences, making our hearts warmer and more open.

This may be a topic that stirs mixed emotions, as we often gravitate towards a world of “them” versus “us.” Labels, to me, still bear the weight of blame and exclusion. I understand that this is an ongoing process, a journey for those who have been marginalized or misunderstood. I’ve studied Friere’s pedagogy (it’s ok if you don’t know this, I didn’t until my MSW). of the oppressed and deeply resonate with it, but I struggle with the idea that it often positions someone as the oppressor. Whether we’re rising against oppression or unintentionally playing the role of the oppressor, power dynamics persist. How can we move beyond this and begin to see people simply as people? As individuals, each a unique thread in the rich tapestry of humanity, creating a fabric of beauty and diversity that enriches us all as a collective whole?

In that place I believe I will find acceptance for myself.

As a women with ADHD I have begun searching for resources. I came across this article that provides some great web based resources . I hope you find it helpful. Resources, counselling and self-awareness is what led me to open Mind 2 Heart Connections. Visit us here

Written by Laura Banks, RSW, MSW Owner of Mind 2 Heart Connections and fellow ADHDer


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