• Adam Tabriz, MD

Is Neurodivergence Another Disease?

This article was originally published by Illumination on Medium!


Divergence and convergence are two ends of human social life fact. We tend to conform to the norms of our society by adapting those of our immediate environment to establish societal unity and uniformity.

Even though convergence is the primary human tendency as a tribal being, nonetheless, not so uncommonly, individuals have different tastes to distinguish themselves within the community they live. They even abandon standards they have inherited in the past.

Some believe people diverge to establish a clear sense of individual identity. Because, as much as we are members of tribal species, also we retain an inherent unique identity. That presumably will set the signal taste at a personal level versus social class. Therefore, as much as convergence spurs unity, divergence from the mainstream, on the other hand, opens many doors to discrimination, stigma, and abuse.

Neurodivergence Is A Form Of Divergence Within Human Cognition

For instance, in the human brain and understanding, like in sociability, learning, attention, mood, and other mental functions are also forms of divergence that fall under the spectrum of Neurodivergence or ND.

The sociologist Judy Singer was the first to introduce the concept of neurodiversity in 1998. Judy popularized the idea of Neurodivergence with journalist Harvey Blume for the first time. The notion places the human cognitive deviation in the context of biodiversity and minority politics.

The idea of neurodiversity stemmed from the "Autism rights movement" and the views that certain things, including Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), are conditions conveyed as "brain development pathology" that impacts how a person perceives and consorts with others.

Classification of ASD as a Brain pathology that generates difficulties in social interaction and communication and limited and repetitive behavior patterns are today classified as neurodevelopmental disorders.

To the irony, labeling ASD as a pure pathological process creates a social model of disability. That means, rather than people being disabled simply due to having impairments, those who have classified ASD as a pathological phenomenon seem to assume disability arises from societal impediments interacting with individual differences.

The Answer To The Neurodiversity Controversy Rests On How We Define Disease And Health

If one searches the definition of health and disease can realize the diversity of social engineering that these phases have suffered over the past few decades.

According to the Britannica:

“Disease, any harmful deviation from the normal structural or functional state of an organism, generally associated with certain signs and symptoms and differing in nature from physical injury.”“Health, in humans, is the extent of an individual’s continuing physical, emotional, mental, and social ability to cope with his or her environment.

According to World Health Organization:

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

According to Wikipedia:

“A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of all or part of an organism, and that is not immediately due to any external injury.”

These definitions are just a few of many that are conceivable, which means what comprises "good" health, in particular, can vary widely from one individual to another.

But the central question is; how and who decides what is considered good social well-being and under what standard; for instance, individuals with Asperger's syndrome who typically fall within the spectrum of ASD often than not complete high academic achievements.

It is becoming apparent that the classification of neurodivergence as a pathological phenomenon may have a discriminatory basis, even if unconscious. Metaphorically speaking, someone who doesn't walk and talk like us must be sick.

Neurodivergence is nothing but those otherwise healthy individuals who fall at the periphery of the statistical Gaussian Bell curve!

Neurodiversity is not a disability, given that people who are neurodivergent may require different accommodations than the mainstream at work or school. Neurodivergence does not solely apply to ASD but involves any structured, invariant form of the brain function that differs from the majority of the community.

The Neurodiversity Paradigm Has Been Controversial.

The disability advocates argue that the concept of neurodiversity potentially risks downplaying the suffering associated with some disabilities. The proponents of viewpoint see it differently. They believe brain differences are typical rather than deficits. Neurodivergent individuals experience, interact with, and interpret the world in "unusual ways" and not necessarily pathologic manners. Neurodiversity can help reduce the stigma around learning and thinking disparities.

Stigmatizing A Neurodivergent Individual Like Aspergers Is Racist And Discriminatory, But It Is A Reality.

April 2nd, 2022, was designated as World Autism Awareness Day. Among some topics discussed during the forum was the higher unemployment rate among neurodivergent people. But employers with neurodiversity hiring programs reportedly benefit from having different perspectives in the workplace. For instance, the world economic forum highlights:

“It’s a real asset for an organization to have people who can help think outside the box.”“some of the smartest people in history have created the biggest instructions in the world”“Aspergers have not done harm to the globe but is considered abnormal”
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