Neurodiversity is a term that was coined by Australian sociologist Judy Singer in 1998 to describe the natural variations of the human genome that determine the way people think and interact. It is estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of the world's population has some type of neurodivergence, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Depending on how the term neurodivergent is defined, between 10 and 30 percent of the population has a neurodivergent trait. Every year, 50,000 children with the autism spectrum reach the age of 18, and 44 percent attend some form of post-secondary education to prepare for the labor market and employment.
However, more than 80 percent of adults on the spectrum become unemployed. Half of the people on the spectrum who are employed are underemployed, meaning they have skills that go beyond what their job requires. Neurodiversity is not something that needs to be “fixed”, but must be understood and adapted. Neurodiverse individuals are overrepresented in STEM fields, and it is important to recognize their potential and create an environment where they can thrive.
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