Not everyone with a medical diagnosis such as autism or ADHD self-identifies as neurodivergent. The neurodiversity movement wants to help destigmatize and depathologize natural differences. However, there is fair criticism about it, and many are taking it far beyond any type of border it may have. Neurodivergent people refer to people who experience various conditions related to cognition and social ability.
Some of these common conditions include autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette's syndrome, and Asperger's syndrome, to name a few. People of all genders, races, and ages can be neurodiverse. I myself wanted to learn about this topic, because people always ask me what is considered neurodivergent, and most of the time I answer based on what I have heard. The neurodiverse brain is often not naturally housed in many academic institutions and work environments, leaving many neurodivergent people to constantly “mask” their conditions.
The following graphic, published on the World Economic Forum website, even argues in favor of increasing capacities, something that, apparently, accompanies certain neurodivergent conditions. This term encourages us not to think that we are fighting a very real illness: “I may have ADD, but I'm not sick, I'm neurodivergent. So, it's true that a person labeled neurodivergent can be affected or improved by their illness, but that doesn't give us reason to celebrate these conditions and consider them merely as a form of human expression. Signs of neurodivergence can be anything from a short attention span to learning difficulties or an active imagination.
Since neurodivergent is a new term, there is no evidence that can say that you are neurodivergent in a general sense. Neurodiverse people have always existed, but having a name to identify neurodivergence in individuals is relatively new. According to global consultancy Deloitte, between 10 and 20% of the world's population is considered neurodivergent. Some time ago, I made a short video to give people a very basic understanding of neurodiversity, and more specifically to help people understand what people meant when they said neurodivergent or neurotypical, etc.
Neurodivergence is a term that was created in the 1990s by Australian sociologist Judy Singer, who was trying to draw attention to marginalized people with neurological conditions (more information here). I'll drop the quotes around “Neurodivergent” for the rest of this article, since it's impossible to define an identity-based movement without having a group identity. Not many diagnoses involve brain scans, so the neurological differences of neurodivergent people are not seen but deduced. Being neurodivergent can mean having ADHD, attention deficit disorder, autism, dyslexia, depression, Tourette's syndrome, dyspraxia (a problem with coordination and motor skills), dyscalculia (difficulty working with numbers), Asperger's syndrome, or, really, any neurological condition.
Now, the medical system and even the World Economic Forum are incorporating neurodivergence and neurodiversity into doctors' offices and workplaces as a new trend. Conditions considered neurodivergent are increasing at an alarming rate, which may be, in part, the reason why the medical system wants to normalize them.