What Does It Mean to Be Neurodivergent? - Alpha School

What Does It Mean to Be Neurodivergent?

Neurodivergent daughter learning to cook

Neurodivergent is an umbrella term coined by sociologist Judy Singer in 1998 to describe how a person’s brain functions or processes information differently compared to someone who is “neurotypical.” Although the term was originally used to describe individuals on the autism spectrum, the definition has broadened over the years to include individuals with ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette’s syndrome, dyspraxia, synesthesia, dyscalculia, Down syndrome, epilepsy, and chronic mental health illnesses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression. 

The concept of neurodiversity, like any diversity movement, is built on the premise that our differences are neither good nor bad – they are simply what makes us different from one another. Advocates of neurodiversity assert that people who are neurodivergent often have unique skill sets and aptitudes that go unrecognized due to the false perception that having a condition or disability makes a person less than others.

Of course, that doesn’t mean someone with a particular condition, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), will not face inherent challenges throughout their lifetime. Neurodiversity does not intend to ignore or deny a person’s disability; instead, it promotes the idea of acceptance and support to help them thrive in a neurotypical-dominated world.

All too often, people who are neurodivergent are taught to suppress their differences for the sake of conformity. Neurodiversity advocates believe there is a better way.

By acknowledging, amplifying, and celebrating the perspectives of neurodivergent individuals and encouraging them to embrace their unique abilities – we can create a more inclusive society for current and future generations.

Viewing Autism Through the Lens of Neurodiversity 

One of the driving forces behind the neurodiversity and disability rights movement is the call for increased awareness of what it means to be neurodivergent and for full social inclusion and equality. To reach this goal, it is critical to change the way society views people with disabilities, whether they be developmental, intellectual, or otherwise. By using the lens of neurodiversity, we can challenge and debunk many common misconceptions surrounding ASD. Some of these misconceptions include, but are not limited to – people with ASD do not have any desire to socialize with others, do not feel or recognize emotions, or all cases of ASD are the same. All these misconceptions are false and extremely hurtful and damaging to a person’s psyche. 

Final Note

Autism is referred to as a spectrum disorder because of how the condition can present itself in children and adults. Although people with ASD are often labeled as being either high-functioning or low-functioning, these classifications seem to infer that one is less than the other, which presents the same problem that the neurodiversity movement aims to solve.
Although we are often distracted by disagreements over labels and semantics, the core objective of embracing neurodiversity is to develop a more humanized perspective regarding ASD or any other developmental, intellectual, or neurological condition. If we can change society’s perception of what it means to have a disability, we can begin to create a more inclusive world for everyone.

john gonzalez supervisor of instruction Alpha School

Alpha School an private special education school in New Jersey

Our Mission at The Alpha School is to help all of our special needs students with the learning, social, language, and behavioral support they deserve. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student to becoming the best they can while providing a safe and nurturing educational environment.

We would be more than happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.370.1150, or request a tour of Alpha School of Jackson, NJ located just minutes off of Route 9 and Route 195 in Ocean County.

— John Gonzalez, Principal-Alpha School, Jackson, NJ

About RKS Associates

At all the RKS Schools we pride ourselves in discovery the hidden treasures of all of our students. Our academic and support services are appropriately customized for a student unique and diverse needs so that they can reach their full potential.

Alpha School is part of special needs network of schools located in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean County New Jersey. Since 1980 the RKS Associates schools have been leaders in helping special needs helping students with various disabilities including autism, Down's syndrome, communication, learning, social, behavioral and emotional disabilities. The range of services RKS schools provide is academic instruction and speech, occupational and physical therapies. In addition to Life Skills, Technology, and a full complement of Support Services.

network of RKS NJ schools for special needs