What Is Neurodiversity and Why Does it Matter?

What Is Neurodiversity and Why Does it Matter?
You’ve probably heard the term neurodiversity, but what exactly does it mean? Continue reading to learn more about neurodiversity, why it matters, and how it affects the depathologizing of mental health care.

Neurodiversity — a word coined by sociologist Judy Singer in 1998 — refers to the differences in how people’s brains work. Since then, the term neurodiversity has been used to fight stigma against people with ADHD, autism, and learning disorders, among other conditions. 

If you’ve been wondering what exactly neurodiversity is and why it matters, then continue reading. Our team of psychotherapists here at Brooklyn Integrative Psychological Services explains why neurodiversity matters and how it changes the perspective on diagnosis and therapy

What is neurodiversity?

No two brains function the same way, but certain differences in the brain can lead to specific challenges. Neurodiversity refers to brain differences that affect how your brain works. These differences may come from autism, ADHD, or learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Neurological differences can also stem from medical conditions like epilepsy or cerebral palsy.

These differences in brain functioning mean that neurodivergent people may have different challenges — but also different strengths — from people whose brains don’t have those differences. 

Potential neurodivergent strengths include:

  • Enhanced memory capabilities
  • Proficiency in mentally visualizing three-dimensional objects
  • Aptitude for solving complex mathematical calculations mentally
  • Creative thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Heightened attention to detail
  • Unique perspectives and approaches to tasks
  • Exceptional focus and dedication to interests or hobbies
  • Innovativeness and out-of-the-box thinking
  • Ability to hyperfocus on tasks of interest
  • Increased sensitivity and empathy toward others

The term neurodivergent itself isn’t a medical term or a diagnosis. It’s a much more inclusive way to address the differences in the way your brain works. 

Neurodivergent versus neurotypical

People whose brains aren’t impacted by medical or mental health conditions still have their own set of strengths and challenges. However, those challenges and strengths aren’t affected by these neurological differences. The word for these people is neurotypical.

Neither one is “better” than the other one. They’re simply different. 

Why does neurodiversity matter?

Neurodiversity matters because it acknowledges obstacles you face — nothing is ever swept under a rug — and how to deal with them. It also fosters a deep appreciation for the unique strengths you bring to the world. 

Everybody has strengths, and neurodiversity keeps a pulse check on this. 

Not only is neurodiversity strength-based, but it also promotes inclusivity and fosters an appreciation for the unique perspectives you bring to the world — all of which can help boost your self-esteem and quality of life.

A step toward depathologizing mental health care

Embracing neurodiversity encourages a shift toward depathologizing mental health care. This involves moving away from the medical model of mental health, which focuses primarily on symptom management, and shifts toward a more holistic approach that recognizes and respects the individuality of your neurocognitive profile.

When you receive therapy with a non-pathologizing approach, you can expect:

  • A focus on your own experiences
  • A strength-based approach
  • Evidence-based techniques
  • A focus on autonomy and empowerment

Therapy can help empower people with diverse neurological profiles to thrive in society, at work, and at home, all while addressing the specific challenges they face.

How neurodiversity changes the perspective on diagnosis

In the context of neurodiversity, diagnosis takes on a different meaning. Rather than labeling individuals with conditions such as autism, ADHD, or dyslexia as inherently deficient or disordered, diagnoses can serve as tools for understanding and accommodating your differences in cognitive functioning.

In other words, neurodiversity provides a brain-based reason for why you think the way you do. You’re never deficient in anything. You are whole. You bring your own set of strengths to the world.

Everybody has strengths

The mindset that everyone’s brains work differently and that everyone has strengths plays a big role in shaping your treatment. Your strength-based therapist here at Brooklyn Integrative Psychological Services can factor your own strengths into evidence-based treatments. 

To learn more about depathologizing mental health or to schedule a strength-based therapy session, click here to book your first appointment. Questions? You can always send us a message.