Neurodiversity was first used in 1993 by an Autistic advocate to convey the message “Do not Mourn us”1. The message was that autistic people were not disabled but neurologically different.
Overtime Neurodiversity has evolved to include other ‘conditions’:
If this trend continues it would indicate that we will discover more Neurotypes and eventually have hundreds of conditions. If we have hundreds of conditions everyone could get a label and then we eventually realise that we are all Neurodiverse because we are all different!
This means the only way society can cater for all the Neurotypes will be to build processes and environments that are adaptive to individuals strengths and weaknesses.
Why do we need the label of Neurodiversity?
In today’s society we need labels to get support for our needs particularly if you have a hidden disability. We need labels to justify extra help and adaptions in education, work or society.
It can be difficult to say to our boss if we have no label:
The lights in this room are really bright it’s so painful it makes it difficult for me to read so I need to change rooms
It would be easy for our boss to assume we are being petty because they do not have the same problem and the problem makes no sense to them. With a label I can point to evidence that being autistic results in sensory challenges therefore I need adjustments.
Having a diagnosis lets us fight for our rights and fight for adaptions. These adaptions do not just help Neurodiverse people but everyone. Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, a group we would refer to as “night owls” is a recognised condition which results in the sleep pattern. If all work-places were aware of the condition it would mean we would all move to flexible working hours which would benefit other people such as parents.
I wish to see a future where no person needs a label to justify why an adaptation is needed and we instead trust people to make decisions around how they work best.
But it wont be easy. It will take work, patience, community, development of awareness, acceptance of the way things currently are and that labels might be be a requirement for now. Overtime and by working together can we collectively embody this thinking into society.