Reflection paper 1

Thesis: Neurodiversity is often considered an insufficiency, but I argue that it should be celebrated and better understood by society. The term "neurodivergent" describes people whose brain differences affect how their brain works. That means they have different strengths and weaknesses than people who have a "typical" neurotype. Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist, coined the word "neurodiversity" in 1998 to recognize that everyone's brain develops uniquely. In the majority of modern medicine a person can be described as well or not by asking the question, "Is this symptom normal?" or "How do these symptoms affect the individual?" Some examples of neurodiversity are ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), Autism Spectrum Disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, some genetic disorders, and other intellectual disabilities (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). It is my (and many others) contention that neurodiversity should be thought of as different, rather than a deficit or insufficiency. I believe that there are aspects of these neurotypes that not only are beneficial to these individuals but to society as a whole and should be celebrated and better understood by everyone. It is undeniable that these diagnoses have undesirable aspects and challenges that often lead to difficulties in an individual's life. Though many of these challenges exist and are linked to societal and environmental contexts, they are still very real and often require seeking help from outside entities. This is why I think it is important for society to understand these neurotypes and the struggles those who live with them experience so that we can find ways to identify and remove those barriers. Learning ways to make our world accessible to all neurotypes not only benefits those affected but can bridge a gap that would benefit society as a whole. Some of the symptoms of various neurtodiversities include sensory processing difficulties, anxiety,
depression, struggles with reading, writing, and math, trouble with social skills and social understanding, difficulty focusing, and other struggles managing many aspects of daily life. Oftentimes, people only see how neurodiverse people struggle to manage their symptoms and less often have the opportunity to see the advantages that these differences can be responsible for. Often, people who live with neurological differences have strengths that they can recognize and put to use in their personal and professional lives. Some of these strengths include absorbing more fine-tuned information to draw more rounded conclusions, leadership skills and aspiration to be leaders, a better understanding of diversity and therefore the ability to be more understanding and compassionate toward others, and generally just being more driven to focus on areas that are of particular interest to them. People who are neurodiverse often have what is referred to as a "special interest." These special interests can be related to their hobbies, their careers, or just areas of passionate interest that relate to their lives. When these individuals develop a special interest it becomes something that they want to know everything about and be fully immersed in. Sometimes this can be distracting or take up time that needs to be spent elsewhere. Other times, these special interests can convert to passionate careers, extreme understanding of those they are close with, or even deep interest in making positive change in the area of interest. It is easy to see how complex understanding and devotion to a topic could be beneficial to an individual in the workplace, in interpersonal relationships and childrearing, or in leading and helping others to make meaningful contributions to areas of study or change. As mentioned, an area of benefit for those who are neurodiverse may often include an advantage in the workplace. "A growing number of companies, including SAP, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and Microsoft, have reformed their HR processes to access neurodiverse talent—and are seeing productivity gains, quality improvement, boosts in innovative capabilities, and
increased employee engagement as a result." (Robert D. Austin and Gary P. Pisano, 2017) Many companies are making innovative changes to their company to accommodate ND individuals and therefore boosting productivity in the workplace. Some of these supports include non interview style assessment, helping to manage workplace sensory processing-related difficulties, installing support systems, and tailoring training methods to include ways of teaching that are accessible to neurodiverse individuals. "Many individuals who embrace the concept of neurodiversity believe that people with differences do not need to be cured; they need help and accommodation instead." (John Elder Robison, 2013.) The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) reports that teams that include neurodivergent people are often more effective and productive than those that do not. Neurodivergent workers may also show a greater trust and loyalty toward organizations that have workplace cultures that are inclusive and supportive and in which they can succeed. It only makes sense to conclude that work environments that take the time to accommodate their employees are better equipped to succeed as a company when they have committed employees who are thriving. Another area that ND people can be supported in is education. While many of the difficulties experienced by these individuals can be attributed to the pressure and deeply structural ways that educational institutions manage students, neurodiverse children, adolescents, and adult students who are supported have great ability to thrive in many areas. Educators have an important role to play in making the benefits of neurodiversity more widely appreciated and empowering different kinds of thinkers to contribute to mainstream life and culture. Neurodiverse children are often still struggling to catch up with their peers in areas of social skills, speech, and emotional regulation but for the areas they can't compete in yet, there are
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