Neurodiversity: What does it mean and why it being used?
The Infinite U has chosen to change its language recently and use the term "neurodiversity" or "neurodiverse" instead of "has autism" or "on the autism spectrum." Like most things, there are varying opinions on this word and the movement it represents. The term neurodiversity stems from the autism community and is a movement to promote acceptance and appreciation for neurological diversity and reduce stigma. There is no one right way to think, behave, or be social. In fact, neurological diversity is an asset to the health of the population.
"Neurotypical" refers to mainstream neurology, or said another way, understanding and adhering to mainstream expectations and social norms. Rather than "normal" or "not normal," which reinforces a pathology mindset and marginalizes and isolates anyone who is seen as different, neurodiversity embraces and celebrates difference. The Infinite U believes in the power of language and in empowerment and advocacy. Rather than expecting neurodiverse people to change in order to "fit in" to the mainstream, the mainstream is being asked to expand its mindset from being fear-based and rejecting of difference, to an attitude of inclusivity, acceptance, and appreciation of difference. We all win when neurodiversity is embraced. We all get more freedom to be our unique, creative, and quirky selves. Just like, as a white person, the more that I embrace racial difference, the more connected I feel to myself, to my ancestral roots, and to others.
The world's problems need new, creative solutions, and it is essential that we value diverse ways of thinking and behaving. This is the only way we can move forward with creating a nation-and world- with greater harmony, love, and freedom for all living beings.
The Infinite U uses the term "neurodiverse kids and teens" to be inclusive of kids and teens with a wide array of neurological difference, not just autism. Certain programs are geared toward individuals with (what is formerly referred to as) Asperger's, other similar form of gifted/sensitivity, or challenges with social engagement. The Infinite U also works with individuals who are "more severely affected by autism" or other neurological difference. The Infinite U avoids using terms like "high functioning autism" or "low functioning autism" as it believes that both of those terms reinforce pathology and devalue human beings.
On a personal note, in spending time with and supporting neurodiverse kids, teens, adults, and families, I continually witness immense creativity, originality, kindness, empathy, gentleness, respect for and love of nature and animals, sensitivity, a desire for "realness," passion, aliveness, and commitment. As a sensitive person who values depth, gentleness, kindness, has big feelings, has a hard time with small talk, appreciates original thinking, has historically felt "different"-like an alien on this human inhabited planet, and can easily be self-deprecating, neurodiverse individuals have been my greatest teachers. They have taught me that my sensitivity is a gift, that my passion, depth, and seriousness are beautiful, there "there is nothing wrong with me," and that "I am the best me there is." Embracing neurological difference has gifted my life with greater self-acceptance, trust in my own uniqueness and inner wisdom, confidence that my original thinking is necessary and important to creating change, appreciation for my innate gifts, and ultimately, self-love. ~Nicole
Front Range Center for Neurodiversity (coming soon to the Boulder/Denver area)
Call 720.316.8130 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how The Infinite U can support your neurodiverse loved one to embrace their infinite self.
The Infinite U
The Infinite U
Serving the greater Boulder and Denver area
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The Infinite Teen Community has been so successful that the program is expanding! 8th-10th graders are connecting in community, feeling a sense of belonging, value, and confidence. "I know you've got my back," "I am a thoughtful, ingenuitive, caring teen," "I had fun making new friends" are just some of the things the teens are saying!
"I know counselors are supposed to listen, but you REALLY listen."
- 9th Grade Student
"We’ve shared both good times and bad, and I always come away on Saturday mornings feeling happy with the world and myself in general, and that’s not always an easy feat!."
- Parent yoga class participant
"Sometimes before a [counseling] session I don't want to go, but then afterward, I'm always glad I did cause I feel better."
- 9th Grade Student
The Infinite U supports kids and teens on their pathway to becoming socially and emotionally aware and embodied individuals who are connected to themselves, connected to their community, and feel a strong sense of purpose in their community.