Neurodiversity first emerged as a concept in the 1990s, arising from discussions in an autistic-run online group (Dekker, 2020). While it has taken many years of advocacy to bring the notion to the fore, we are now seeing neurodiversity become common parlance. This is something to be celebrated, particularly by the autistic community, which has long championed the term. Neurodiversity is now being discussed in schools, workplaces, and homes, as well as in clinical and research sectors. But how well do we actually understand neurodiversity? This post will try to unpack some of the common myths and misunderstandings surrounding it.
- Neurodiversity is beneficial.
Just as biodiversity encapsulates the immense variety of plants, animals, and microorganisms found on Earth, neurodiversity refers to the many different kinds of human minds. Similarly to cultural diversity and gender diversity, the neurodiversity movement acknowledges that variation is both natural in its occurrence and beneficial to the human species as a whole.
Humanity needs heterogeneity to thrive. For example, plumbers play an important role in the workforce, such that we may assume that a greater number of plumbers would be a good thing. But, imagine if everyone was a plumber: We’d all have excellent water pressure and drainage, but few people would have a job (or electricity, for that matter).