Neurodivergent vs Neurodiverse

Neurodivergent vs neurodiverse: a man is wearing a black t-shirt with a gold infinity symbol on it.

Neurodivergent vs. Neurodiverse

Neurodivergent vs neurodiverse: understanding the spectrum of human cognition

In the realm of autism and neurodiversity, terms like "neurodiverse" and "neurodivergent" have emerged as powerful alternatives to deficit-based language, such as "disorder."

Coined by autistic sociologist Judy Singer in the 1990s, these terms aim to emphasize the strengths and diverse cognitive processing styles present in the autistic population. In this article, we will delve deeper into the meanings of "neurodiverse" and "neurodivergent," exploring their significance in promoting a more inclusive understanding of human cognition.

Neurodivergent individuals encompass those on the autism spectrum or anyone whose brain processes information in ways that differ from the majority. 

This broad category includes individuals with various conditions, such as learning disabilities, attention deficit and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette's syndrome. Rather than viewing these conditions as inherently negative or abnormal, the neurodiversity perspective recognizes them as part of the natural spectrum of human experience.

Judy Singer's concept of neurodivergence encourages a shift away from perceiving neurodivergent individuals as fundamentally flawed or deficient. Instead, it acknowledges their unique cognitive strengths and abilities. Many individuals within the autistic community possess remarkable aptitudes in areas like focused attention, pattern recognition, and factual recall. By embracing the neurodivergent perspective, society can better appreciate the valuable contributions these individuals can make in diverse fields such as science, technology, art, and more.

Neurodiversity extends beyond the confines of the neurodivergent community, encompassing the entire human population. Each person has a distinctive way of processing information, resulting in a rich tapestry of cognitive diversity. Recognizing this inherent diversity fosters a society that appreciates the unique talents and perspectives of all individuals, regardless of their cognitive style.

In conclusion, when thinking about "neurodivergent vs neurodiverse", remember they represent pivotal concepts in the evolution of our understanding of autism and neurodiversity. These terms emphasize the strengths and diverse cognitive processing styles of individuals on the autism spectrum and beyond. 

By adopting a neurodiversity lens, society can promote inclusivity, appreciation, and acceptance of the unique talents and perspectives that arise from our diverse cognitive landscapes. Embracing the concepts of neurodivergence and neurodiversity paves the way for a more equitable and empathetic future.

"Embracing the delicate balance of 'neurodivergent vs neurodiverse' illuminates the vibrant tapestry of human cognition, where diverse minds shape a world of boundless possibilities."

This article has been adapted from the article “What do “neurodiverse” and “neurodivergent” mean?” published by DO-IT, University of Washington, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 License