What is Neurodiversity? What Does it Mean to Be Neurodiverse?

Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one "right" way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits. Neurodiversity, Neurodivergence, or having a Neuro-variance, refers to variations in the human brain and cognition, for instance in sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions. Being neurodivergent means having a brain that works differently from the average or “neurotypical” person. This may be differences in social preferences, ways of learning, ways of communicating and/or ways of perceiving the environment.

The neurodiversity paradigm was developed and embraced first by people on the Autism spectrum. Subsequently, it was applied to other neurodevelopmental and/or neuropsychiatric conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), developmental speech disorders, verbal and non-verbal learning disorders, intellectual disability, and Tourette’s syndrome.

Neurodiversity advocates denounce the framing of neurodevelopmental disorders as requiring medical intervention to "cure" or "fix" them, and instead promote support systems such as inclusion-focused services, accommodations, communication and assistive technologies, and occupational training. The intention is for individuals to receive support that honors authentic forms of human diversity, self-expression, and being, rather than treatment which coerces or forces them to conform to a clinical ideal.