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Psych 101 Neurodivergence – from Cross Insurance


In 1998, Australian sociologist Judy Singer coined the term “neurodiversity” to recognize that everyone’s brain develops uniquely. Singer defines neurodiversity as:

  • A state of nature to be respected
  • An analytical tool for examining social issues
  • An argument for the conservation and facilitation of human diversity

Cross Benefit Solutions logoSimilarly, the Ohio State University College of Medicine explains neurodiversity as “the idea that people experience or interact with the world around them in many different ways—some that may not be considered typical. It is based on the framework that ‘different’ is not the same as ‘deficient.’” Since there isn’t a “normal” way for a brain to work or function, the larger popular on is said to be “neurotypical.”

There’s a high chance that you or people around you are neurodivergent—even if you aren’t aware of it. It’s estimated that 15%-20% of the global popular on can be considered neurodivergent. Understanding neurodiversity can help reduce the stigma around thinking, learning and behaving differences. The neurodiversity movement celebrates diversity and appreciates how everyone uniquely functions.

Forms of Neurodivergence

“Neurodivergence” is often used as a nonmedical umbrella term covering several conditions, including the following:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (autism)
  • Down syndrome
  • Dyscalculia (difficulty with math)
  • Dysgraphia (difficulty with writing)
  • Dyslexia (difficulty with reading)
  • Dyspraxia (difficulty with coordination)
  • Mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Tourette syndrome

Many types of neurodivergence, such as autism and ADHD, are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR). The DSM-5-TR is a professional reference book on mental health and brain-related conditions, which is considered a primary reference guide for U.S. mental health providers.

Signs, Causes and Treatment

Neurodiversity refers to how each person’s brain develops uniquely, so signs or symptoms vary greatly. Furthermore, that means the neurodivergence is not preventable or curable. However, some conditions that cause a person to be neurodivergent are manageable. Since symptoms vary, treatment requires personalized care. A health care provider can discuss possible management options, including medications and therapy programs.


Neurodivergence is not an illness; it simply means having a different neurology than the majority of people. Neurodiversity challenges traditional notions of neurological normalcy by acknowledging and embracing neurological diversity. It recognizes that differences in cognitive functioning and processing—such as
thinking, learning and behaving—exist on a spectrum. Neurodivergent conditions, such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia, are not preventable or curable, but they can be managed through early intervention, behavioral therapy and other treatments. A medical professional can evaluate symptoms and outline a personalized care plan.

Embracing neurodiversity contributes to a compassionate society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their neurological differences. Contact a health professional if you have concerns or questions related to forms of neurodivergence.