Understanding the complexities of Neurodiversity

By KENDRA BURDICK

Neurodiversity refers to an alteration in the human brain regarding amiability, education, attention, mood and other mental functions. It presents a perspective that brain dissimilarity is special and shows downfalls and salvations.

The term “neurodiverse” originated as a more compendious way to describe autism. Presently, these terms are not acknowledged in the medical community but are used in the autistic community.

Seeing autism as a disorder is a way to apprehend the elaborate differences, abilities and strengths individuals with autism have. According to Dana Lee Baker, a mother to a child with neurodiversity, autism can be pictured as a human variant with extreme disadvantages. Nonetheless, as with everything, there are also advantages.

“My mind is like a tree, it has thousands of branches all different, yet they connect together,” says Benjamin Andrew. (KENDRA BURDICK/ Ethic Photo)

Author Laura James explains in her book Odd Girl Out that “people with Asperger’s or autism expend a huge amount of mental energy each day.” Some examples of this are socializing, anxiety, change, sensory sensitivity, daily living skills and so on.

In James’ book, she gives a perspective of being neurodiverse; she presents the great things along with the off-setting things. Instead of looking at autism as a disorder, people can look at autism as a characteristic, such as having brown hair or a dominant left hand.

Being neurodiverse manifests having a brain that’s geared heterogeneously, meaning towards a diverse environment. Andrew James, an employment specialist for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, says that “parts of the neurodiverse community who aid neurodiverse individuals believe that autism doesn’t need a cure or something to divert it.”

“The neurodiversity view is that brain differences are normal and kids who have them are as mainstream as those who don’t have them,” the Understood Team says in their neurodiversity article, titled Neurodiversity: What you need to know.

The idea of neurodiversity has advantages, such as allowing children with learning and thinking differences becoming more caring and collaborative. Mia Altenbach, a freshman at Redlands East Valley High School, describes neurodiversity as a “positive life changing prognosis.” 

One of the biggest treatment centers for autism in Redlands, California is Brain Balance. Brain Balance is the “leading drug-free training program designed to help kids improve focus, behavior, social skills, anxiety and academic performance,” as stated by their website. Other treatment centers include the Center of Autism & Related Disorders and the Truesdail Speech Center.

Neurodiversity has changed and affected so many lives, for the better and for a stronger understanding of themselves, as James explained throughout her entire novel. Holding this condition gives a unique perspective and a better understanding in neurodiversity.

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