Reviewed by Maggie Klyce, LICSW-S, CEDS-S

Neurodiversity refers to the concept that the brain functions in diverse ways which impact how individuals perceive and interact with the environment around them.1 The term was first coined by Judith Singer, an Australian sociologist, in the 1990’s to describe a growing movement in the autism community which sought to advocate for increased acceptance and inclusion of people with all types of neurological differences and promoted the idea that these differences were a reflection of the diversity of normal human neurological functioning and not a deficit.2 While the concept of neurodiversity rejects the idea of neurodivergent people as lacking compared to those who are neurologically typical, many in the neurodiversity community recognize the benefits of the disability label and their associated diagnoses since it allows them to access protections, services, and accommodations under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). Though opinions vary within the neurodiversity community and some neurodivergent people choose not to adopt the disabled term, most advocates within the community do not see the concepts of neurodiversity and disability as mutually exclusive. Instead, many view these concepts as complimentary – fighting for greater acceptance and acknowledgement of the value of neurodiversity while simultaneously continuing to advocate for the support and accommodations individuals may require.3

Though neurodiversity is not a formal diagnosis it has become an umbrella term to describe many different types of neurodevelopmental differences such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), intellectual disability (ID), and other types of learning differences. Furthermore, while there still remains much debate about the concept of neurodiversity amongst treatment providers and academics in the field, the philosophy of neurodiversity has begun to inform the ways in which professionals and researchers conceptualize neurological conditions and the ways in which to best support individuals to get their needs met.4