What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is a concept given in the 1990s by an Australian sociologist named Judy Singer. The term represents how people think, behave, communicate, and more.
Neurodiversity is often associated with challenges an individual may face. For instance, people with neurodiverse traits may be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHA), dyslexia, or autism. But the concept turns the traditional diagnoses on their heads. Instead of thinking something is “wrong” with the person, the new science suggests that there is a diversity we’ve yet to grasp within the human genome fully. Conditions aren’t necessarily faults in the brain but unique expressions.
Neurodiversity and Mental Health
Extensive data points to the fact that more excellent rates of depression and anxiety co-occur in individuals with diagnoses of autism, ADHD, and dyspraxia. Autism alone has been linked to higher rates of anxiety, eating disorders, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. Much of this may stem from the fact that individuals with autism have typically been found to have low levels of dopamine, a “feel good” neurotransmitter greatly responsible for elevated moods.
But what about those individuals whose dopamine levels are in the normal range? And for that matter, what about depression and anxiety in people who have not been diagnosed with any other cognitive condition?
Psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists have tried to understand the profound links between the body, brain, and life experiences. And what we have learned is that narrow diagnostic categorization doesn’t allow us to recognize all of the diverse ways cognitive conditions express themselves in the human race.
Neurodiversity helps solve this. It embraces the complexity of the brain, body and life interconnectedness to help us get better patient outcomes. As clinicians, we must move away from crude labelling and diagnoses and focus on personalized interventions and treatment plans to serve our clients better.