More Than Trend: How Can You Tell If You Are Neurodivergent?

In recent years, the term “neurodivergent” has gained significant attention. You may have seen the term show up in social media, Pinterest boards, and general discussions about mental health and inclusivity. But what does it truly mean to be neurodivergent, and how can one determine if they fit this description?

Understanding Neurodivergence
Neurodivergence refers to how a person’s brain may differ from those around them through the ways they learn, interact, pay attention, or think. It encompasses a wide range of conditions, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and more. Across social media, the conversation around neurodiversity is shifting from one of questioning to one of celebration. People all over the world have been finding comfort in the neurodiversity communities and resources that have been built online. In turn, more spaces are being created where neurodivergent people can talk freely about their symptoms, experiences, and challenges with others who may also understand.

Beyond the Trend
While it’s encouraging to see more people discussing their unique differences, it’s crucial to move beyond the trend and understand the real implications. Being neurodivergent isn’t just a social media identity; it is how individuals interact and navigate with their world. Recognizing what neurodivergence looks like and who can “be” neurodivergent can help the general public become much more informed and welcoming. It is also encouraging when neurodivergent individuals share their experiences because it provides valuable insights for others who may not have an official diagnosis. This allows them to learn firsthand about symptoms, testing, accommodations, and resources that they can use in their own lives.

Signs You Might Be Neurodivergent

Persistent Challenges with Social Interactions

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Individuals may find social norms perplexing and might struggle with non-verbal communication, such as reading facial expressions or understanding sarcasm. They may also prefer routines and find comfort in engaging repetitive behaviors.
  • ADHD: Those with ADHD may experience impulsivity, hyperactivity, or inattention that makes social interactions challenging. They might interrupt conversations or find it hard to stay focused during discussions.

Unusual Learning Patterns

  • Dyslexia: Characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, often identified by struggling with reading comprehension or spelling skills. This condition can make reading a frustrating and slow process.
  • Dyscalculia: Difficulty with numbers and mathematical concepts is a hallmark of dyscalculia, making tasks like budgeting or understanding time challenging.

Self-Assessment and Reflection
Self-assessment and reflection go hand in hand. They are meant to work together to help an individual find more meaning and understanding to their experiences, leading to them feeling more comfortable with themselves and the new information they have gathered. Self-assessments allow people to reflect on their actions, behaviors, and patterns in a way that is evidence-based and well-publicized. However, self-assessment has its limits. It’s essential to approach reflection on neurodivergent traits or symptoms with an open mind and to not rush to conclusions based solely on internet checklists or casual observations.

Seeking Professional Guidance
Professional assessments are the final gateway to fully understanding how neurodivergent symptoms and behaviors play a role in your life by providing a documented and official diagnosis with resources and evidence to back up the findings. Testing psychologists can help you take all the information you learn online and apply it to your everyday life. By working with a professional, you will receive guidance about the things that you were and were not aware of when it came to your specific diagnosis. Through assessments, they can shed more light on how neurodivergence can show up differently for you versus the other people you may have encountered online.

Embracing Neurodiversity
Understanding neurodivergence is not just about diagnosis; it’s about embracing and valuing different ways of thinking. Many neurodivergent individuals bring unique strengths and perspectives. For instance, those with autism might excel in analytical thinking and attention to detail, while individuals with ADHD might demonstrate remarkable creativity and problem-solving abilities.

Recognizing neurodivergence goes beyond following a trend; it involves a deep, compassionate understanding of oneself and others. If you suspect you or a loved one might be neurodivergent, take the time to learn about neurodiversity, reflect on your own experiences, and seek professional guidance. Embracing neurodiversity enriches not just individual lives but also the broader community by celebrating the diverse ways humans experience and interpret the world.

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