Neurodivergent Versus Neurotypical-The Practical Side

“Neurodivergent” is a buzzword that came from the related term “neurodiverse.” You may have heard someone describe themselves as “neurodivergent” or being “neurodiverse.” Judy Singer (a sociologist) coined the word “neurodiversity” in 1998 to point out that every person’s brain develops in a unique way. In fact, we know that no two brains—even the brains of identical twins—are exactly like.

Neurodivergent “describes people whose brain differences affect how their brain works. That means they have different strengths and challenges from people whose brains don’t have those differences” (www.clevelandclinic.org ). Neurodivergent describes people without using the words “normal or abnormal” since what is normal is subjective.

Many people who identify as neurodivergent often have one or more of the following mental health disorders:



–Down Syndrome


–Tourette Syndrome



–Sensory Processing Disorders (variable)

If you have one of the above disorders, you may be neurodivergent. If you are wondering if you are neurodivergent, there is no specific test for just that; however, if you believe you may be neurodivergent, your primary care physician is a great place to start. Your primary doctor can rule out any medical issues that could be affecting you. Once medical conditions are ruled out, your doctor can refer you to the appropriate specialist for testing and to see if you have any disorders such as the one listed above. If so, you may be neurodivergent.

It is important to see your doctor or specialist to discuss pros and cons regarding moving forward to undergo testing so that you can access the best supports possible to help you in life. For example, if you have Dyslexia, you can see a specialist for help and tutoring outside of school and have accommodations written into an IEP (individualized education plan) so you also receive assistance at school. Additionally, with some, medication can help. For example, someone with ADHD may take medication and have accommodations at work or school so that they can stand at their desk or take frequent breaks.

Just as you will want supports and accommodations at work and school, you will probably also want them at home if you are not neurotypical (the opposite of neurodivergent). For example, you may want your parent or partner to communicate with you in certain ways. You may prefer to talk while walking side-by-side or on the phone—versus face-to-face (this is just one example). The important thing is for you to be able to identify what you need and communicate it to those you spend the most time with—friends, families, co-workers, etc.

If you want to learn more about yourself, or think you might be neurodivergent, we are here to help. Life is about discovering who you are and how you want to use who you are to positively impact the world. Our trained and experienced mental health clinicians are here to support you, no matter what you are facing on your life journey. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment. And please come back next month for more on the topic of Neurodiversity.


Yolanda Brailey