When you first dive into neurodiversity affirming ways of working, you may be overwhelmed by all the new terms. I know it took a while for me to understand the differences and nuances between terms and this post addresses just a few.
Neurodiversity refers to the fact that all brains think and feel differently, and those differences are just part of being human. It’s not good or bad, we are all different and varied and unique. Neurodiverse or neurodiversity refers to a collection of people or brains or ways of thinking, not only one person, brain or way of thinking. Because it is used to describe a group, I cannot say I am neurodiverse, I am however, part of a neurodiverse family (group of people).
Neurodivergent on the other hand is a term used to describe a brain that functions in a way that is not “typical” or diverges from the majority. Because I have been identified as an autistic ADHDer (someone with an autism and ADHD diagnosis), I am neurodivergent. Some people are born neurodivergent, like I was, and others can become neurodivergent during or after birth, such as through brain injury. Whatever the case is, neurodivergence isn’t a bad thing. We may be the minority, but it doesn’t mean there is anything inherently wrong with our brains. Neurodivergence is just a way of explaining that our brains are not like the majority.
The majority of brains tend to get referred to as neurotypical, that means they do not have a diagnosis or brain-based difference that would make them neurodivergent. You might be a neurotypical person reading this or you may work with neurotypical therapists. Understanding that there is a difference in the way our brains work is an important step in understanding why being neurodiversity affirming is so important. We need to ensure that we aren’t assuming that just because we are part of the majority that we know what is happening for someone who is neurodivergent. The neurodiversity movement is vital, to ensure that all brains are catered for in therapy, accessing supports, in workplaces, in education and within the home environment. One size does not fit all!
So why Neurodiversity Toolbox? Because all brains require some support at different stages of life and from what I have come to learn, supports for neurodivergent brains don’t tend to hurt or disadvantage neurotypical people. However, the ‘tried and true’ behaviour strategies, resources and supports designed by and for neurotypical people, have certainly put neurodivergent people at a disadvantage and some have even caused significant trauma. Neurodiversity Toolbox is here to provide neurodiversity affirming resources and tools for everyone, not just neurodivergent people. However, all resources and tools have been examined to assess whether they are neurodiversity affirming and ensure that they are not likely to harm neurodivergent individuals during their use.
Note: All tools can be used to create harm if used incorrectly or with the wrong intention, however, the idea of Neurodiversity Toolbox is that we provide tools and resources, along with the best practice ways to use them. Our intention is to always provide the best possible resources and tools for the best possible outcomes for those using them and those they are being used with.