STRONGER TOGETHER: Embracing Neurodiversity—A Celebration of Individuality and Difference

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Last updated: 26/02/2024

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the importance of embracing neurodiversity, advocating for a deeper understanding and acceptance of diverse cognitive perspectives.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

“The Year I Met My Brain” is probably not the typical book that most people would be looking for at their local bookstore.  I say this not because of the author – award-winning social media reporter and presenter for The Guardian, Matilda Boseley (who is amazing by the way) – but more because Matilda wrote the book after receiving an ADHD diagnosis and pitched it as a travel companion for other adults who have also found out they have ADHD.

The reality is that the worldwide percentage of adults with this learning difference is 2.5, with males three times more likely to be diagnosed than females. This book is therefore a rare find when it comes to understanding ADHD in adults, particularly females, and is an absolute treasure for those keen to navigate and enjoy life as an ADHD adult.

The term ADHD is widely used, and therefore I have jumped in and used the abbreviated term straight up on the assumption that most of the population who know about and use the term, understand what it means. But here’s a quick refresh for those who need it.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be described as presenting in three different ways – primarily hyperactive/impulsive (ADHD-H), primarily inattentive (ADHD-I) and combined (ADHD-C). If someone speaks about ADHD generally and you asked them to describe the behaviours associated with ADHD, run of the mill responses would normally refer to children, and use terms such as disruptive in the classroom, fidgety, unable to sit still, impatient, speaks over the top of you, and is often bouncing off the walls.

What we do know however is that ADHD presents in different ways for different people, and it is not just limited to children. We also know that the medicalised model of treatment should be supported by opportunities to educate and advance our understanding of how to create cultural acceptance within our society of accommodating brains that work differently.

To this end, I would like to wrap up this article with a very clear call to action.

Neurodiversity, a term originally coined by sociologist Judy Singer in the 1990’s, is used widely to encourage a deeper conversation about how we accommodate the different ways that the brain works, specifically in people with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia.

Even though the term can be contentious, Matilda uses neurodivergent unashamedly throughout her book. She wants us to elevate our thinking away from this antiquated idea of normal or healthy brains, to embracing the notion that those who identify as neurodivergent require our understanding.

Moving away from the idea that an individual’s brain, reasoning, or logic needs to be fixed or cured, and instead acknowledging the difference and specialness that they bring to everyday neurotypical perspectives. Acknowledging their uniqueness and celebrate the insights that us ‘typical’ brained folk will never understand or experience.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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