The Importance of Neurodiversity: Recognising & Honouring Differences

Posted by Natalie Clarke

I'm Natalie, a Senior Mental Health Nurse at Ocean Healthcare. We are currently celebrating Neurodiversity Week and I have been tasked with writing a blog to commemorate this occasion.  

This week is an opportunity to stick-it to stereotypes and misplaced misconceptions. It's a chance to celebrate the brilliance of being a human in a neurodiverse community. Around 15-20% of the population, nearly 1 in 5 people, posses a neurological variation. We are incredibly diverse and should regularly evaluate inclusivity to include everything that makes us all unique.

Inclusivity is a value dear to my heart. It not only brings advantages to those who are diverse, but also benefits everyone when we embrace a multitude of perspectives. I often liken it to an ecosystem, where a rich diversity of species creates a healthier and more vibrant environment. 

I believe that fostering inclusivity should be the top priority when considering how to champion our neurodiverse community. At Ocean Healthcare, we do it best! 

What is neurodiversity? 

Neurodiversity is a term that focuses less on differences and more on the strengths of individuals. It refers to the range of nuances for how people’s brains function and how they behave. These variations are considered part of the normal spectrum within the human population. 

The group of people who think and behave most similarly in the population are referred as “neurotypical”. Individuals who process information and sensory input differently to the majority are referred as “neurodivergent”. The term "neurodiverse" is used to describe a group of people that consists of both neurotypical and neurodivergent individuals.  

Autism is one of several conditions that are considered neurodivergent. Others include; ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia and Tourette’s Syndrome.   

How do we foster inclusivity? 

We focus on abilities not disabilities.

Every person has unique strengths that should be celebrated. It is easy in everyday life, to focus on what we as humans can’t do, rather than focusing on what we can. Everybody problem solves and finds solutions in different ways and at different paces. Individuality should be encouraged and embraced!  

We validate perspectives.

Different perspectives create a team. This applies to both the persons we care for and the persons we work with. Here at Ocean we have a “Team First” mindset. It is all about supporting each other, lifting one another up, and celebrating collective success. This way of thinking embraces perspectives, their unique fingerprints and empowers team members.  

We create inclusive spaces.

I believe we should go one step further and champion the idea that neurodiversity is our society. A society that embraces all. A society that celebrates its differences. Many ‘challenges’ neurodivergent people face are more to do with the environment and systems they are placed in. Often designed by a majority population for a majority population. When we open our minds to different ways of do things the world becomes a more vibrant and interesting place, it opens doors to new horizons.  

I’d like to leave you with a quote that had my mind twirling and my fingers tingling: 

“The most interesting people you’ll find are ones that don’t fit into your average cardboard box. They’ll make what they need … they’ll make their own boxes.” 

(Prof Temple Grandin) 

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