Neurodivergence: How Brain Works Differently For A Neurodivergent?

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Published on: 27-Feb-2023

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Neurodivergence: How Brain Works Differently For A Neurodivergent?

Neurodivergence: How Brain Works Differently For A Neurodivergent?

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Neurodivergence is a term used to describe the natural variations in human neurological functioning. It refers to differences in how individuals process information, learn and interact with the world. As a result, people who are neurodivergent may have typical patterns of thoughts, behaviours, and communications that differ from what is considered typical or normal.

Examples of neurodivergent conditions include Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Tourette Syndrome, and Bipolar Disorder, among others. These conditions are not illnesses or disorders but are simply different ways of experiencing the world and, to an extent, would require medical care

It is important to note that neurodivergence is a neutral term and should not be stigmatised or pathologised. Instead, it recognises how people's brains and minds work and encourages a more inclusive and accepting society for all individuals, regardless of their neurological differences.

Table Of Contents

1. Neurodivergent Test

2. Neurodivergent Symptoms

3. Is Anxiety Neurodivergent

4. Neurodiversity at Work

5. Neurodivergent Vs Mentally ill

6. Dietitian’s Recommendation

7. The Final Say

8. FAQs

Neurodivergent Test

Neurodivergence refers to a unique way of thinking and functioning encompassing various conditions with alternate cognitive processing. Online tests are available for multiple neurodivergent disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Dyslexia, ADHD, etc. These tests use questions from multiple tests to diagnose an individual with a disorder and identify their behavioural differences. However, it is important to note that online self-tests are only a starting point, and it is always best to seek professional help for an accurate diagnosis.

A few examples of a neurodivergent test are:

1. Ritvo Autism Asperger's Diagnostic Scale (RAADS-R) which is a screening tool for autism spectrum disorder. The test comprises 80 self-report questions and measures four subscales - social relatedness, circumscribed interest, language, and sensory-motor symptoms. 

2. The Bangor Dyslexia Test is another example of a screening test used to evaluate verbal and phonological processing skills without considering literacy ability.

3. Neurodivergent music test is an 8-dimensional audio effect that is a unique way of separating different parts of a recording, allowing them to be heard through different headphones or speakers. This creates a sensory experience similar to being surrounded by musicians in a concert hall. Some individuals with ADHD and other neurodivergent conditions have reported that listening to 8D music helps them to focus and reduce sensory overload. It is also worth noting that listening to 8-dimensional music is believed to help neurodivergent individuals, particularly those with ADHD, to focus and decrease sensory overload. However, this is more self-screening than a studied and tested tool. Therefore, visiting a physician for more formal testing is always advisable.

Various tests are available for anxiety (e.g. the GAD-7 test), bipolar disorder, and dyspraxia. Still, they may not necessarily test for neurodivergence. However, individuals can identify themselves as neurodivergent along with their condition, or they may not. The definition of a neurodivergent is broad, and no particular strict medical criteria must be met to be considered neurodivergent.

It is worth noting that the conditions we have discussed and neurodivergence are just some of the most commonly identified ones. No fixed rules exist in such neurodivergent cases, there is no specific pattern for a neurodivergent to behave in, and each individual's experiences and symptoms may differ.

Neurodivergent Symptoms

Neurodivergent Symptoms

Neurodivergent symptoms can vary depending on the specific condition or disorder. However, some common neurodivergent conditions and their associated symptoms include:

1. ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder): Inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, restlessness, poor time management, and disorganisation.

2. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Difficulty with social interaction, repetitive behaviours or interests, difficulty with communication, sensory sensitivities, and the problem with changes in routine.

3. Dyslexia: Difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing, difficulty with phonological processing, and difficulty with working memory.

4. Dyscalculia: Difficulty with maths and numbers, processing and understanding mathematical concepts, and memorising maths facts.

5. Dyspraxia: Difficulty with coordination and motor skills, difficulty with balance, difficulty with spatial awareness, and difficulty with planning and organising movements.

6. Bipolar Disorder: Mood swings, mania, depression, anxiety, irritability, impulsivity, and difficulty with sleep.

7. Generalised Anxiety Disorder: Excessive and uncontrollable worry, restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.

It is important to note that these symptoms can vary in severity and may not be present in every individual with a neurodivergent condition. Additionally, experiencing some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean someone is neurodivergent. A formal diagnosis from a medical professional is necessary for an accurate determination.

Is Anxiety Neurodivergent?

Anxiety is a mental health condition characterised by excessive worry, fear, or apprehension about future events or situations. Various factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, and life experiences, can cause anxiety. While anxiety is a common condition that affects many people, it is not typically considered a neurodivergent condition.

Neurodivergent is a term used to describe individuals with different ways of thinking, processing information, or experiencing the world around them. This can include autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and others. Differences in brain function and development typically cause these conditions.

While anxiety can undoubtedly impact how a person thinks and experiences the world, it is not typically considered a neurodivergent condition. Instead, anxiety is often treated with therapy and medication, and many people can manage their symptoms effectively with these interventions.

Some individuals with anxiety may also have other neurodivergent conditions, such as ADHD or autism. In these cases, the individual may identify as neurodivergent based on their overall experience and how these conditions impact their life. It is important to remember that neurodivergence is a self-identified term. Individuals can choose how they wish to identify themselves.

Neurodiversity At Work

Neurodiversity at work refers to the idea that individuals with neurodivergent conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and others should be valued and included in the workplace. This means creating an environment that recognises and supports the unique strengths and challenges of neurodivergent employees rather than expecting them to conform to a one-size-fits-all approach to work.

Employers can benefit from neurodiversity by tapping into the strengths of neurodivergent employees, who often have exceptional skills in areas such as attention to detail, pattern recognition, and problem-solving. Additionally, research has shown that neurodivergent individuals are often more loyal and reliable employees, leading to decreased employee redundency and increased productivity.

To create a neurodiverse-friendly workplace, employers can make accommodations such as providing quiet spaces for sensory overload, flexible work schedules, and clear and concise communication. They can also provide training and resources for managers and coworkers to better understand and support neurodivergent employees.

Overall, embracing neurodiversity in the workplace can lead to a more inclusive, productive, and innovative work environment.

Neurodivergent Vs Mentally ill

The terms "neurodivergent" and "mentally ill" are not interchangeable and have different meanings.

"Neurodivergent" refers to individuals whose neurology and cognitive processes differ from the typical or "neurotypical" population, including but not limited to conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and Tourette's syndrome. The neurodiversity movement advocates for accepting and celebrating neurological differences and challenges the notion that these differences are inherently "disordered" or need "fixing."

On the other hand, "mentally ill" generally refers to individuals who experience mental health conditions that significantly impair their daily functioning and well-being, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. These conditions are often associated with a higher level of distress. Therefore, they are typically diagnosed and treated within the medical model of mental illness.

It is important to note that while some individuals may identify as both neurodivergent and mentally ill, the terms are not synonymous. Not all neurodivergent individuals experience mental illness and vice versa. It is also worth noting that there is a growing recognition of the intersection between neurodivergence and mental health. Some mental health conditions may be more prevalent in neurodivergent populations.

Dietitian’s Recommendation

Dietitians can be crucial in supporting individuals with neurodivergence by providing tailored nutrition recommendations. Research has shown that certain dietary interventions, such as eliminating gluten and casein or increasing omega-3-rich foods, may improve help with symptoms of autism, ADHD, and depression. Additionally, dietitians can work with individuals to address any sensory issues related to food, such as texture or taste aversions, that may be present in some neurodivergent individuals. 

- Dietitian Aditi Upadhyay

The Final Say

In conclusion, neurodiversity is an important aspect of human diversity that must be recognised and respected. We should create a more inclusive environment where neurodivergent individuals can thrive and reach their full potential. This can be achieved by providing accommodations, resources, and support at schools, workplaces, and the community. Promoting understanding and awareness of neurodivergence through education and advocacy is also important. By embracing and celebrating neurodiversity, we can create a world where everyone can feel valued and respected regardless of their neurotype.

FAQs

1.  What does neurodivergent mean? 

Neurodivergent is a term used to describe individuals whose neurological development and function differ from what is considered typical or normal. It encompasses a range of conditions, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and others.

2. Is neurodivergence a disorder or disability? 

No, neurodivergence is not a disorder or disability. It is a term used to describe differences in neurological development and function. Some individuals may experience challenges associated with their neurodivergence, but it does not necessarily mean they have a disorder or disability.

3. What are some common neurodivergent conditions? 

Some common neurodivergent conditions include autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette syndrome, and bipolar disorder. However, it is important to note that neurodiversity encompasses many conditions and is not limited to these examples.

4. Can neurodivergent individuals lead successful lives? 

Yes, absolutely. Neurodivergent individuals have unique strengths and abilities that can make them successful in many areas of life, including education, employment, and relationships. Therefore, it is important to recognise and support their strengths and provide accommodations where needed to help them thrive.

5. How can society become more inclusive of neurodivergent individuals? 

Society can become more inclusive of neurodivergent individuals by providing accommodations and support, recognising their unique strengths and abilities, and promoting acceptance and understanding. This includes things like workplace accommodations, accessible education, and the destigmatisation of neurodivergent conditions.

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