Neurodiversity: What does it mean and why it being used?

The Infinite U uses the term "neurodivergent" instead of "has autism" or "on the autism spectrum."  The Infinite U also 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. There is no one right way to think, behave, or be social. In fact, neurological diversity is a natural variance within a population and this variation is important.  Autism is only one form of neurodivergence.  The terms neurodivergence and neurodiversity aim to promote acceptance and appreciation for neurological diversity and reduce stigma within the mainstream culture. 

"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.  Rather than expecting neurodivergent people to conform to the mainstream, the mainstream is being asked to expand its mindset 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 serves neurodivergent kids, teens, and families, and this includes a wide array of neurological difference, such as ADHD, learning differences, dyslexia, bi-polar, and more, not just autism. Some people's brains operate in such a way that social communication does not come naturally or innately, and needs to be taught. Others' have a more innate understanding of social communication, but their neurological differences still leave them feeling isolated or stigmatized by their peers.

On a personal note, in spending time with and supporting neurodivergent 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, neurodivergent individuals have been my greatest teachers. They have taught me that my sensitivity is a gift, that my passion, depth, and seriousness are beautiful, that "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       

Additional resources:

Neurotribes by Steve Silberman  

Front Range Center for Neurodiversity (coming soon to the Boulder/Denver area) 

Call 720.316.8130 or email nicole@theinfiniteu.com to discuss how The Infinite U can support your neurodivergent loved one to embrace their infinite self.

The Infinite U