Unlike most medical conditions, neurodivergence does not come with a specific list of symptoms. It is a term that encompasses a range of disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, and ADHD.
People who are neurodivergent have a unique cognitive process. It is important to understand their strengths and challenges.
What is neurodivergence?
Neurodivergence is a term used to describe people who have differences in their brains and don’t conform to societal ideas of what normal or “neurotypical” behaviours are. These differences can impact how they learn, interact with others, and perceive their environments. While some of these differences can cause challenges, many also provide unique strengths that can help people thrive.
While there is no specific test for neurodivergence, there are a number of signs that may indicate someone is this way. These include difficulty picking up on social cues or making eye contact, repetitive behaviours or routines, hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli (such as loud noises or certain textures), and difficulties with planning, organizing, or completing tasks. If you notice any of these issues, you should speak to a mental health professional about whether they might be associated with a condition like autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or another neurodivergence condition.
As the neurodiversity movement grows, more people are coming to understand that differences in how we think, process, and respond to information don’t have to be viewed as a disability. Instead, they can be celebrated and harnessed to create a more inclusive world.
For example, people with dyslexia often have a hard time reading because their brains are wired differently from those without it. But this can also make them faster at identifying optical illusions and give them natural talents in jobs that require visualization, such as graphic design or art.
The term “neurodivergent” was coined in 1998 by Australian sociologist Judy Singer. It was designed to shift away from the medical model of disabilities, which sees mental health conditions as problems that need to be cured. Neurodivergent describes people who don’t fit this model, but rather are different in ways that contribute to their unique strengths and challenges.
Neurodivergent individuals have a wide range of capabilities and talents that can be harnessed to lead a happy and fulfilling life. However, they must seek the right diagnosis and get the proper support to do so. If you’re wondering if you might be neurodivergent, speak to a mental health professional at Thrive Downtown to learn more about what this means for your well-being.
Self-awareness is key.
People who identify as neurodivergent have different strengths and challenges than those who don’t. They may have medical disorders like autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or learning disabilities such as dyscalculia, dysgraphia or dyslexia. They may also experience comorbid mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
For these individuals, finding the right supports can make a huge difference in their quality of life and self-esteem. This is why it’s important for anyone who suspects they or a loved one has these differences to seek medical advice, including performing a neurocognitive assessment. This can be performed by a neuropsychologist or even their family physician, who can refer them to one.
These tests assess how the brain works and look for any areas that are functioning differently. They can also identify if the person is having a hard time focusing, staying organized or recalling things. They may also have more intense emotions or have sensory sensitivities, where they feel overwhelmed by certain sights, sounds or smells.
It’s also important to remember that these tests don’t give you an official diagnosis, but they can help you understand yourself better. These tools are useful in identifying what’s happening in your brain, and you can talk about them with your therapist or doctor to fine-tune your treatment plan.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while many neurodivergent conditions present challenges, they don’t necessarily limit your ability to live a fulfilling life. In fact, the same brain differences that can lead to challenges are what give us superpowers, such as exceptional memory or superior problem-solving and analytical skills.
Having friends, mentors, coworkers or community members who can relate to your way of seeing the world and processing information can be an enormous boost in self-esteem. These individuals can help you see the value, beauty and diversity that these differences offer.
Charlie Health is committed to de-stigmatizing neurodivergence and ensuring that individuals have access to affirming clinical care that complements their unique thinking styles. Our neurodivergent clinical cohort is just one way that we’re making this possible.
The CareClinic app has some of these screening tools built right in.
People have different ways of thinking, feeling and doing things, and neurodivergent people are no exception. These differences can be a source of unique strengths as well as challenges. It can be difficult to determine if you are neurodivergent, and it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor for a diagnosis. However, you can take a few online tests that can help to give you an idea of whether you might be neurodivergent. These quizzes can provide valuable insight into how your brain functions and how you think differently than others.
The neurodivergent test can give you a better understanding of your brain function and how you relate to the world around you. The results of the test should not be taken as a formal diagnosis, but it can help you to see if there are any areas that require more attention or support. It’s important to remember that while many people with mental health conditions like anxiety or depression are considered neurodivergent, it is also possible for someone without a mental illness to be neurodivergent. Neurodivergent people can also have chronic illnesses, such as Parkinson’s disease or chronic fatigue syndrome.
In addition to these physical conditions, neurodivergent people can have other health issues that impact their thinking and learning processes. These include sensory disorders, down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. Some people with a personality disorder, such as borderline personality disorder or schizoid identity disorder, may also be considered neurodivergent1.
When taking the online neurodivergent test, there are some questions that ask about your thought patterns and compare them to those of a “neurotypical” person. It’s important to answer these questions truthfully and honestly in order to get the most accurate result. However, it’s equally important to remember that just because a person isn’t “normal,” doesn’t mean they are suffering. People with different neurological traits can still have very fulfilling lives, and it’s important to respect that. This means listening to them and supporting them in the way they need it. It can also be helpful to communicate in their preferred ways, such as instant messaging or texting rather than phone calls or face-to-face conversations.
Keeping track of your health is key.
People who are neurodivergent usually have a diagnosis of a neurological or developmental disorder such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia and Tourette’s syndrome. They may also have related differences such as sensory dysfunction.
It is important for everyone to understand that just because someone doesn’t act like a neurotypical doesn’t mean they aren’t competent. Many people who are neurodivergent are successful, from animal scientist Temple Grandin to Oscar-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins to Nobel Prize-winning chemist and physicist Marie Curie and even famous director Alfred Hitchcock.
However, it’s also important to realize that just because neurodivergent people are capable doesn’t mean they don’t struggle. It’s often harder for them to fit in with society and find jobs, and they may have more PTSD symptoms than neurotypical people.
There are a number of tools to help support neurodivergent people and ensure they have a good quality of life. One way is to make sure that workplaces are accessible. This means offering flexible hours, allowing for communication via instant messaging or text instead of phone calls, and making sure that workspaces are free of distractions.
Another important tool is to have access to a therapist or psychiatrist who can talk about how neurodivergent traits impact your life and suggest coping strategies. This can help with a variety of issues, from anxiety and depression to trouble sleeping and self-harm. A therapist can also help you work towards getting diagnosed and obtaining a formal neurodivergent test to help with treatment options and medication management.
A lot of people who are neurodivergent go undiagnosed as adults due to stigma and misinformation about mental health. However, it’s possible to take a neurodivergent quiz online that can give you a general idea of which skills you might have. These won’t replace an official diagnosis, but they can help you make sense of your struggles and may give you the confidence needed to talk to a doctor about it. It’s also a great idea to keep a diary of your symptoms so you can show it to your therapist or psychiatrist when you have an appointment.