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Am I Neurodivergent?

Neurodivergent folx may think, learn, and process information differently than what is considered “typical” in mainstream society. If you find yourself wondering, "Am I neurodivergent?" together we’ll explore the concept, understand the signs, and maybe even learn ways to advocate for yourself in a variety of settings.

Understanding Neurodiversity:

Neurodiversity challenges the traditional notion that there is a single "normal" way of experiencing the world. Neurodiversity affirming care celebrates the idea that neurological differences, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and more, are a natural part of the human experience. These differences can be seen as variations in the brain's wiring rather than as deficits. There is a common phrase in the neurodiversity affirming therapy world that says, “When you’ve met one neurodivergent person, you’ve met one neurodivergent person.” This is just a long phrase to mean that each person is unique, and therefore may have unique symptoms and experiences. However, there are some common experiences that can help determine if neurodivergence of some kind is worth exploring. You aren’t broken if you experience these; your brain may simply be wired differently and therefore need additional support.

Signs That You May Be Neurodivergent:

Sensory Sensitivities: If you are highly sensitive to sensory stimuli like lights, sounds, textures, body sensations, or tastes, it could be an indicator of neurodivergence. It is also common for emotional dysregulation to occur when multiple of your senses are overwhelmed, not just one at a time. (Ex: you’re hungry and tired and your kid is melting down at the dinner table).

Social Interaction: Difficulty with social interactions or a preference for solitude might suggest neurodivergence. NOTE: This should NOT be pathologized, even though it often is by many health and wellness providers.

Patterns of Thinking: Unique patterns of thinking, such as intense focus on specific interests or a penchant for noticing details that others may miss.

Executive Processing: Challenges with executive processes like organization, time management, memory and planning may be indicative of conditions like ADHD or autism. There can be a lot of factors to why someone struggles with executive processing, which is why it is important to work with a therapist who can offer specialized, unique care and help you determine what support your individual needs.

Learning Differences: If you've experienced differences in learning, reading, writing, or math, it's possible that you're neurodivergent. Conditions like dyslexia and dyscalculia fall under the neurodiversity umbrella.

Intense Emotions: Neurodivergent folx may experience intense emotions, sometimes referred to as "hyper-empathy" or "hyper-sensitivity," which can impact their emotional well-being. You also may find yourself more prone to rejection sensitivity or persistent desire for autonomy. Stereotypical presentations of autism often show cold, unbothered people who don’t care for others and can’t communicate clearly. This is a stereotype and is a problematic generalization, leading many to have a missed diagnosis for years because they are empathetic AND can speak clearly AND are neurodivergent.

Seeking a Diagnosis:

If you identify with any of these signs and suspect you may be neurodivergent, seeking a professional diagnosis can provide clarity. A diagnosis can be an important step in accessing appropriate support and accommodations. However, it’s important to discuss with your therapist if a diagnosis would be helpful or necessary in your case.

If you’re not sure an official diagnosis is for you, taking one of the screeners here can be a helpful place to start.

Embracing Your Neurodiversity:

Discovering that you are neurodivergent can be a profound moment of self-acceptance and understanding. Embracing neurodiversity means recognizing that your brain functions uniquely, and that's okay. It's an opportunity to celebrate your strengths and seek strategies and support to navigate challenges.

Connecting with the Neurodivergent Community:

Connecting with others who share similar experiences can be incredibly empowering. Online and local support groups, advocacy organizations, and social communities for neurodivergent folks offer spaces to share stories, advice, and resources.

Your Unique Neurological Journey

The question, "Am I neurodivergent?" can mark the beginning of a transformative journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Remember that being neurodivergent is not a label or a limitation but an integral part of what makes you, you. Whether you decide to seek a formal diagnosis or simply want to better understand yourself, the path of self-discovery is a deeply personal and enriching one. Embrace your neurodiversity, and know that you are part of a diverse and vibrant tapestry of human experiences.

If you are looking for a therapist to support you in your journey, we have multiple neurodiversity affirming therapists trained and ready to provide the highest quality of care.

We’d like to give a BIG shout out to the amazing Lived Experience Educator for providing amazing resources that give image to experience.


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