As a society, we have a tendency to othering those who don’t fit the mold of what is seen as homogeneity. A different way of thinking, behaving, learning, and acting can not just raise eyeballs but can even attract othering and in extreme cases hostility. It’s true for several minorities, including the neurological minorities. These are those with neurodevelopment issues that make it difficult for them to communicate, learn, and socialise. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dyslexia, are some of the examples. The world is constructed in a way that might at times neglect their needs. As a result, it is no longer able to be inclusive, causing difficulties for them at school, work, and other spheres of life. The idea to counter that and promote inclusion led to the inception of a movement called neurodiversity.
What Is Neurodiversity?
A term generally used in the context of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other neurological disorders, neurodiversity was coined in the 1990s. The idea was that those with these disorders do not have brain deficits but differences. The idea first came up in the mind of Australian sociologist Judy Singer, himself autistic. His aim, with this, was to promote inclusivity and acceptance of the ‘neurological minorities’. It then became a movement in the 1990s and autistic people from various regions collaborated to promote this idea of embracing neurological differences, according to Harvard Health.
The idea, as stated above, was to promote that some people have neurological ‘differences’ and they have strengths of their own. Other than autism spectrum disorder (ASD), neurodiversity is used in the context of those with:
What Does Neurodiversity Advocate?
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As it aims to promote inclusion of the neurological minorities, neurodiversity advocates the use of language that is sensitive:
- For example, some advocate addressing such people on a person-first basis, such as ‘a person with autism’, instead of ‘autistic person’. It is done to prevent the identification of a person with the disorder. However, some research shows that there are people who prefer the latter to bring awareness to the issues and challenges they face. Rather than judging, you must ask the person what he/she prefers and address likewise.
- Another element of neurodiversity is to focus on the strengths of those with neurological disorders. For example, people with ADHD are generally full of energy, spontaneous, and courageous. Similarly, those with dyslexia might have an upper hand over their ordinary peers in cases where visual information is involved. Similarly, many of those with autism have a good memory. Hence, the idea is that instead of focusing just on the weaknesses, emphasis should be on the many strengths they bring to the table, which can be put to good use at school and work.
Neurodiversity At School & Work
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Many schools do not cater to the requirements of those with neurological disorders. As a result, they fall behind that puts a huge impact on their lives and that of their families.
- Hence, they can provide resources that cater to the needs of such students.
- Also, they need to acknowledge that every student process information differently and has their sets of strengths and weaknesses.
Similarly, workplaces should also induce such an environment that promotes inclusion for the neurological minorities.
- First and foremost, they must create jobs for them.
- Incorporate flexibility at work.
- Incorporate adjustments such as allowing them to use noise-canceling headphones, assigning quiet spaces, Harvard Health recommends.
- Also, be direct in terms of verbal communication and avoid.
- Also, make sure other employees are welcoming towards them too.
Although the idea is to promote inclusivity, not everyone agrees on what neurodiversity means. For example, some don’t want the disorders to be identified as different. However, some want the conditions to be clubbed as disabling to share how spaces across the society pose challenges for them. Similarly, some want themselves to be referred on a person-first basis, the others on a condition-first.
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