Neurodivergence is the term used to describe how someone's brain processes, learns, and/or behaves differently from the majority (what is considered "typical") and thus "diverges" from the norm.
Example of innate neurodiversity include: ADHD, Autism Spectrum (ASD formerly called Asperger), HSP (highly sensitive person), Dyslexia and many others.
It is believed that 1 in 8 people (12.5%) are neurodivergent but less than 50% know it. And most neurodivergent people have more than one type of neurodivergence.
Neurodiverse tend to be out of the box thinkers but often navigating our neurotypical society can be a challenge.
Whether you have had a diagnosis or not, as a fellow neurodivergent, I am here to (directly or indirectly) support you .
Note: Post concussion syndrome (PCS) is considered by some therapists to be acquired neurodivergence. It is also suggested that the symptoms of PCS are very similar to ADHD. The literature also reflects a major focus on ADHD as a risk factor for concussion and prognosis for postconcussion recovery.*
What I Believe
YOU ARE NOT DEFECTIVE, IT'S A SPECTRUM.
I believe that neurodivergence is a nebula of spectrums.
In fact, Autism has recently been reclassified as a spectrum.
Anxiety and depression is a spectrum.
And I believe people in general are on a spectrum, a spectrum of body shapes, of gender qualities, of introvert/extroverts etc...
Nothing's gone wrong!!! you have your own setting on all these dials.
A DIAGNOSIS CAN HELP ... (AND SOMETIMES NOT)
Someone once asked me "Well, if everybody gets diagnosed doesn't that minimise the importance of the struggle severe cases have?". And this is a common opinion that I respect since I have not had that experience, or cared for someone who has.
That being said, my point of view is that:
the more people get diagnosed or just realise they are neurodivergent AND vocalise it, the less "atypical" it becomes, the more "in the norm" it becomes. It destigmatises & depathologises.
The spectrum becomes the norm.
Having a diagnosis can help you feel liberated and explain why you felt like a weirdo all these years. It can help you set yourself on your self-discovery journey and start finding ways of living your present and future life that work better for you.
But the risk is that you use the diagnosis to confirm your belief that "something is wrong / defective with you". If you seek a diagnosis, I hope it will be from a place of "I want to confirm my inner knowing that my brain works differently" and not from "I am broken and need to be fixed".
My personal story with neurodivergence
I AM NEURODIVERGENT.
I have always been.
But I look and sound "normal".
So I always thought something was wrong with me. And I was ashamed of it.
You see, I am HSP.
HSP means Highly Sensitive Person (a.k.a. Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS)). It does not mean I am shy (although I was) and overly emotionally sensitive (indeed some people would have called me cold in the past).
It means that my nervous system is highly sensitive and thus I am highly sensitive to external stimuli (e.g. sounds, smell, texture, mouvement, sight... for me in that order); and thus process more information faster** and feel more deeply (which can be overwhelming and exhausting). To the point that sometimes when things get too overwhelming, I have a "system shut down" (and I loose any memory of the event).
But there are a few things to know about HSP:
1. It is believed that HSP is biological with 20% of the population sharing that phenotype - we are not alone!
2. It is now believe that "sensitivity" (like everything else) is a spectrum - surprise! (not)
3. HSP can be a superpower (e.g. you can pick up on things others don't, it makes you very empathic, see other examples below)
4. 30% of HSP are extrovert (whaaaat!!).
I am also autistic*** which certainly explains some of my struggles and behaviours but does not prevent me from functioning in our society. In fact, I am rather lucky to have been able to use it, in some areas of my life (like my previous and current career) as a super-power.
And I have post-concussion syndrome (this is when your concussion symptoms have not resolved after 3 months) for over two years. And yes... I can still run a business! I just have to do it a little differently and more slowly than I had imagined. And I love helping other fellow PCS!! It will be not surprise to you that I see it as an opportunity to reset and rethink the way we have been doing things.
THERE CAN BE SYNERGY BETWEEN NEURODIVERSE PEOPLE!
I use to say "I speak dyslexia".(as a joke... because each individual is different)... but also because I have no less than 3 dyslexic people in my close family and I learnt from a young age to not grasp to other's words too tightly and to try to understand the meaning rather that the words, or to learn their way of speaking, like I would for learning a foreign languages.
My closest friends are ADHD - granted I have a lot of entrepreneur friends (in which statistically there are a greater % of ADHD and Autistic).
But I (and my HSP/autisc brain) seems to attract other neurodiverse brains especially ADHD. Maybe it is my grounding presence, my compulsive need to categorise and map out the hundred of thoughts that come out of their brain, to understand exactly what they mean AND feel, to see patterns in what they are saying... that is part of my HSP/autistic superpower.
I'd love to help you discover your superpower. So make sure you get in touch! You can follow me on Instagram (my preferred place to hang out) and/or Facebook.
*Hoare E, Reyes J, Olive L, et al. Neurodiversity in elite sport: a systematic scoping review. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2023;9:e001575. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2023-001575
**studies looking at the brain waves of HSPs have shown that they hear sounds faster and louder than others (Read).
*** Did you know that the word 'Autism' comes from the Greek word for self, autos—because they are said to be happiest in isolation.