What is Neurodiversity?

In the late 1990s, Judy Singer, a sociologist who is on the autism spectrum herself, came up with a word to describe conditions like ADHD, autism, and dyslexia––neurodiversity. Singer created this term in order to shift the common understanding of these conditions away from the usual litany of deficits, disorders, and impairments towards an understanding that these brains simply work differently than others.

Today, the term is broadly defined as an approach to learning and disability that suggests diverse neurological conditions appear as a result of normal variations in the human genome. The term advocates promoting support systems (i.e. inclusion-focused services, accommodations, communication and assistive technologies, occupational training, and independent living support) over services that are focused on coercing or forcing a person to adopt ideas of "normality," or to conform to a clinical ideal.


Why is the Terminology Important?

The use of this terminology aids in a movement towards equal treatment and acceptance of individuals. It focuses on neurodiversity being seen as a normal variation of the human condition. This concept can have a powerful impact on a neurodivergent individual.

The idea that people are naturally diverse learners is important, especially for kids who may otherwise think something is “wrong” with them. By acknowledging neurodiversity, kids can be better equipped to develop confidence, resilience, and positive self-esteem.


How Can You Support a Neurodivergent Child?

Check out our dyslexia-related pages for information and resources on supporting children with dyslexia.

Check out our autism-related pages for information and resources on supporting children with autism.