One end of a rainbow, touching down in a golden beanfield behind clusters of trees.

Rainbows, particularly rainbow brains and infinity signs, are used as symbols for neurodiversity.

A variety of fish in all shapes, colors, and sizes swimming among coral in an aquarium.

Neurodiversity is sometimes compared to the concept of biodiversity. One of the earliest recorded uses of the term neurodiversity, in an article by Harvey Blume, states that neurodiversity “may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general.”

What is Neurodiversity?

The infinite differences that exist among human brains and minds is called neurodiversity. This diversity is apparent in the various ways people think, feel, behave, communicate, relate to each other, and experience the world.

All cultures have ways that individuals are expected to behave and to be. These expectations are sometimes based on the idea of a “normal” or “average” person and life. This “normal” person is assumed to have a brain that is healthy because it is normal. And being “healthy” is seen as inherently better, more worthy, and more natural than being sick or disabled.

People with “unhealthy” minds and brains are sometimes grouped together by general types of differences, usually with words that are seen as medical terms or diagnoses, like autism, dyspraxia, borderline personality disorder, and epilepsy. People who fall into these kinds of categories can be called neurodivergent. Those who are seen as having “normal” brains are called neurotypical.

Most neurodivergent people are disabled by their differences. This can be because of the way their brain works itself, because of ableism and a society built around the needs of neurotypicals, or because of some combination of the two.

Neurodiversity includes people with neurological differences of all kinds. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illnesses, and neurological diseases or injuries can be considered neurodivergent. Neurodivergence can also include conditions that are often not considered disabilities at all, like synesthesia, or those that are often considered a part of other disabilities, like executive dysfunction and alexithymia.

A variety of fish in all shapes, colors, and sizes swimming among coral in an aquarium.

Neurodiversity is sometimes compared to the concept of biodiversity. One of the earliest recorded uses of the term neurodiversity, in an article by Harvey Blume, states that neurodiversity “may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general.”

One end of a rainbow, touching down in a golden beanfield behind clusters of trees.
Rainbows, particularly rainbow brains and infinity signs, are used as symbols for neurodiversity.
Here are some articles that offer more perspectives on neurodiversity:

 

Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms & Definitions by Nick Walker

This is one of the most commonly shared resources on neurodiversity. It gives clear, logical definitions of many terms related to the concept of neurodiversity.

 

Don’t Mourn For Us by Jim Sinclair

Another popular resource, this is one of the first articles to articulate some of the major arguments of what would become the neurodiversity movement, a social movement that seeks to achieve greater recognition of neurodivergence as a marginalized social identity, and to advance the political and human rights of neurodivergent people as a part of the disability rights movement. This article focuses on autism, and why autism is not separable from who autistic people are.

 

All of Me: How Do I Know Where Blackness Ends and Neurodivergence Begins? by Morénike Giwa Onaiwu

Neurodivergence is often not separable from who a person is, and neurodivergence is not separable from the other identities that make a person who they are. Most experiences, including the way individuals encounter oppression, can’t be neatly categorized into separate issues of race, or disability, or religion, or gender. This piece discusses some of the ways that identities are lived and experienced in the day-to-day life of the author and their family.

 

Gendervague: At the Intersection of Autistic and Trans Experiences by Lydia X. Z. Brown

Autistic and neurodivergent culture is responsible for the creation of a number of new words used to describe the experiences of those within the community. Gendervague is one of these terms. It refers to the way that gender and neurodivergence intersect for some neurodivergent transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people.

 

No Time To Confront Racism In Neurodiversity by René Brooks

So much of neurodiversity activism and neurodivergent culture takes place online. These online spaces are often dominated by white voices and racism. This article discusses some of the ways racism is pervasive in neurodivergent spaces and discourse by giving an example from the author’s experience in an online ADHD group.

 

Autism Self-Diagnosis is not Special Snowflake Syndrome by Sara Luterman

Many neurodivergent people are not officially diagnosed with their conditions, and in the Autistic community, self-diagnosis is seen as a valid option for people who are unable to get a professional diagnosis or who choose not to get one. There are many reasons why self-diagnosis can be necessary or preferable to professional diagnosis. This article goes into some of those reasons, with a focus on autism.

 

You Can’t Have Neurodiversity Without People With Intellectual Disabilities by Ivanova Smith

“Intelligence” is an emotionally charged concept for many neurodivergent people. Sometimes, neurodivergent people without intellectual disabilities try to uplift themselves by emphasizing that people with their disabilities are worthy because they’re “smart” or have “average or greater intelligence,” and give validation to things like IQ tests and mental age theory. This article discusses some of the ways the voices of people with intellectual disabilities are silenced by members of the neurodiversity and disability rights movements, and by anti-neurodiversity groups and individuals who mainly target autistic people and people with intellectual disabilities.