28 Apr Neurodivergent, Neurotypical. What’s the Difference? by Rachel Kolber – Head of Education Support (Years 7-9)
Terms like neurodiversity, neurodivergent and neurotypical may seem the result of current psychological and educational trends. However, the descriptor “neurodiversity” was first used by Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist in the late 1990s. This makes the word older than every single member of One Direction and as Aussie as a Hills Hoist.
Current Australian society celebrates difference. Our children have grown up in a world where they understand that not everybody is the same. We all have different interests, different reactions to stimuli, different ways to express our emotions and different learning preferences. This is because all our brains work slightly differently – it’s biology. When we talk about neurodiversity, we are just referring to the fact that each of us is an individual with slightly different brain chemistry.
Neurodivergent describes a person whose brain works a little differently from dominant societal standards. Let’s remember that different does not mean wrong or impaired. It just means that neurodivergent people may process information, express their feelings or deal with stress in a new or individual way that most people aren’t used to seeing. Neurodivergence includes those with ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Epilepsy, Tourette’s Syndrome, Giftedness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, sensory processing differences and learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. This list could be much longer, but I wanted to make sure that there was still room for all the Kesher classics such as the tuckshop menu and the mazel tov list. I would bet my daughter’s Frank Green drink bottle on the fact that we all know quite a few people who could be described as neurodivergent.
Neurotypical is used to describe a person whose brain works within the dominant societal standards. This does not mean better or superior. It just means that neurotypical people may process information, express their feelings or deal with stress in a way that most people are used to seeing.
The important thing to remember is that we are all on the same spectrum of neurodiversity and all of us are normal. Neurodivergent or neurotypical; neither is better or worse. They’re simply different.
Neurodivergent, Neurotypical. What’s the Difference? Not much.