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Embracing Neurodiversity: Another Look at Autism

Too often when we talk about conditions related to neurodiversity, like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we use negative words.  It’s an “epidemic,” or a problem for which we need a cure.  However, there are many people who embrace it!  This condition offers a completely different perspective of the world and a new set of problem-solving skills.  Ultimately, if our goal is to be more accepting and encouraging of diversity in society, shouldn’t this apply to neurodiversity, too?


Not Better, Not Worse 

Rather than viewing autism as a mental health issue, a growing movement suggests that it’s a diagnosis that tries to define neurodiversity.  As we work to uncover more neurological explanations for autism, advocacy for those on the spectrum is increasing.  Many well-respected individuals and organizations have argued for a new view on ASD.  One that sees the collection of supposed symptoms as a different way of functioning altogether.  Not intrinsically better or worse—just different. 


Honestly, it makes sense.  Even if an individual were diagnosed with a mental health issue, that’s no reason to assume he/she is somehow inferior.  Although the spectrum incorporates many people with different abilities and symptoms, let’s look at some of the common features together.


The New Norm of Neurodiversity 

When you think about autism, what characteristics come to mind?  Awkward interactions?  Emotional swings? A failure to pick up common social cues?  Realistically, each of these behaviors can be found in millions of “normal” people.  It’s only when they occur as a group that an ASD diagnosis seems to follow. 


Perhaps we should try to embrace this neurodiversity, rather than working so hard to define it.  Individuals with autism have strengths and weaknesses—just like anyone else.  What if we spent more time trying to capitalize on their unique skills rather than trying to force them to conform to our standards?  If our ultimate goal is to encourage people of all capabilities to succeed, then this is a great place to start.

Overall, people with ASD tend to be honest, hardworking, and rule-oriented.  When you combine these assets with the right environment, they can truly shine!  Whether that’s an educational program or a workplace.  Unfortunately, by labeling these individuals with a “disorder,” we may actually be hurting their opportunities for advancement.  That’s why the neurodiversity movement is working to expand our definitions of “normal” and become more accepting of atypical behaviors.  In addition, there are companies like Diversity Builder that offer training for businesses so their employees have a better understanding of Neurodiversity and how to handle it in the workplace.

At Focal Points Therapy, we utilize nonpharmacological methods to target personal goals.  For example, if your child is struggling in school because of difficulties focusing, we can work him/her!  Rather than trying to change anyone, we provide the tools you need to become more successful.  So far, we’ve helped individuals with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, and many more challenges.  If you’re looking for a place that honors neurodiversity rather than labeling it, we’re here to help. 

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