My brain is particularly squirrelly; I have several verified anomalies including synaesthesia, attention deficit disorder, Tourette, migraine, and sensory processing difficulties along with other conditions that are still getting tested. However, I’m fortunate to have these challenging outliers paired with the stellar memory conferred by grapheme->color and other synaesthesias. Some experts refer to my pu pu platter of skills and deficits as “twice exceptional”. I prefer to use the term neurodiverse.
Neurodiversity is a term coined by Australian sociologist Judy Singer in 1998. In her honors thesis “Odd People In: The Birth of Community amongst people on the Autistic Spectrum. A personal exploration based on neurological diversity” Singer notes that neurocognitive differences constitute a new category of groups which would, and should, take its place alongside other familiar categories for political action. The neurodiversity movement promotes the concept that variations in the human brain regarding intellect, capacity to attend, social motivation, learning, and mood are not pathologies, but iterations of the spectrum of human cognition. This philosophy fosters movement away from a deficit model predicated on disease and pathology, and toward an inclusive concept of neurocognition. The neurodiversity movement encourages support-based systems, such as accommodations in schools and workplaces, social inclusivity, assistive devices and technologies, occupational and career training, and aid with ADL’s and independent living. The intention is for neurodiverse persons to receive support that honors their humanity and fosters authentic self-expression whilst moving away from outdated concepts of normality and methods that force neurodivegent individuals to mesh with a DSM-V diagnostic model.
Neurocognitive differences have created numerous challenges in my life, some which continue to fill me with regret and trepidation. I explore the friction of coming to terms with my aberrant neurology in my writing, art, and activism. At times, it’s burdensome to acknowledge my limitations and gifts in this middle part of life. But I am grateful for the opportunity to connect with other neurodivergents and their families, and to create a community of people who recognize that brains are strange and they aren’t all the same.
I sit on the executive board of the International Association of Synaesthetes, Artists, and Scientists, and help coordinate our symposia and arts events. You can learn more about IASAS here: http://www.theiasas.com