What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is the practice of viewing brain deviations such as Learning Disabilities, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) , Neurodiversity is the practice of viewing brain deviations such as Learning Disabilities, Autism, Asperger’s (while this is a known term, it is not used at Crossroads), ADHD, Language Disorders such as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia as normal variations in the human genome. There are many chromosomal syndromes such as Down’s Syndrome, Trisomy 21, Turner Syndrome, Rubenstein-Taybi Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Patau’s Syndrome, and Edward’s Syndrome that also present differences. Our practice is to approach all conditions in a way that makes us think of these differences as exactly that – differences. Although some of these differences do create challenges along the way, there are also a number of benefits, opportunities and great ideas that come with them.
Neurodiversity includes the process of viewing a situation from a neutral perspective and creating an environment that is welcoming and adapts to all neurotypes, rather than expecting individuals to conform to our typical expectations or standards.
Why is Neurodiversity Important?
Neurodiversity is important for a variety of reasons. We recognize that society operates based on a neurotypical standard and that this marginalizes those who have neuro differences or other conditions that do not “fit in” to the neurotypical standard. Neurotypical environments often to not have adaptations for those with sensory challenges. Neurotypical standards include a large degree of ableism and ask for behavior such as “sitting still and making eye contact is how we show we are listening”. Welcoming neurodiversity allows the stigma we have around brain differences to be reduced.
This can help to normalize these deviations and by creating a safe and supportive environment, individuals can develop naturally. As we create an environment for these individuals that is accepting, and not based on a neurotypical standard, we support the different needs and allow everyone to be themselves and get the support they require. Ultimately, this allows those neuro differences to shine through and present the possibility to use them as a strength.
It’s a Movement
Understanding neurodiversity and making the appropriate adaptations can encourage others to do the same. When we have a surrounding group of people who are able to view neurodiverse individuals as valuable human beings, rather than causing suppression of natural characteristics, we are able to see these differences in a way that does not take away the opportunities that neurotypical individuals receive naturally.
Who Should We Recognize Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity should ultimately be recognized by everyone. But starting with important stakeholders, people such as teachers, co-workers, employers, and others that have a large impact on people with ADHD, autism, or learning disabilities. These people are going to play an important role in switching the mindset from “I’m different and that is bad” to adapting a mindset of reassessing our neurotypical standards that create suppression, to finding ways to celebrate the differences and allow individuals to be themselves, no matter their neurotype. Creating an environment that is focused on the individual and their needs is an important start. At Crossroads, we are constantly working to improve in this regard.
When Might We Adapt This Mindset?
Ideally, we should adapt to this view all the time! But to be a bit more specific, here’s a few times when the idea of neurodiversity should be highly considered:
In the Workplace
It is important to use these ideologies regardless of the type of workplace. Whether it be an office setting or physical labour type of workplace, we should aim to bring neuro differences together by creating an environment that fosters the ideas of allowing everyone equal opportunities. This can help to promote unique levels of problem solving and beneficial functioning.
As school at younger ages is where most people would have first been exposed to people that have neurological differences; it’s important to foster these views of acceptance right from a young age. The Neurodiversity Movement pushes us to challenge our expectations and move towards inclusivity of differences. We must confront our ableism and recognize the ways in which we marginalize neurodiverse individuals.
At Crossroads Collective
At Crossroads, we are mindful of sensory challenges and triggers. We have installed lights that dim in every room, we provide stimulating items such as toys and bubble tubes, and we allow movement as a form of expression. We do not hold the expectation that our clients must sit still and quietly; instead, we adapt to the varying needs of our clients and make the counselling experience as comfortable and as accepting as possible. We are always working to improve and we welcome feedback on how we can do so!