NEUROTYPE, NUROMINORITY, NEURO-WHAT?

WRITTEN BY: DR. JOEL SCHWARTZ, PSY.D. | NEURODIVERGENT PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSULTANT

NEURO-WHAT?!

Good question. A neurominority, often also called someone’s neurotype, is defined by Nick Walker (one of the thought leaders in the Neurodiversity movement) as a population of neurodivergent people that share an innate form of neurodivergence that results in experiencing prejudice and discrimination. Examples are Autistic people, ADHD people, people with Down Syndrome, and dyslexic people. 

One important aspect of working with people through a Neurodiversity lens is understanding that conditions like Autism and ADHD cannot be meaningfully separated from an individual. Both conditions affect pretty much every way that people show up in the world – it affects sensory systems, attention, information processing, relationships, meaning-making, and even values. Life experiences and life choices are drastically affected by our native neurology as well. 

As such, we can no more separate the Autism and ADHD from an individual than we can their body. Unlike the medical model that sees these conditions in terms of symptoms, often with a wholly negative spin as something to get rid of, the Neurodiversity paradigm sees these syndromes as more of an identity. Along with this, the challenges these individuals face are directly due to a lack of understanding and accommodation leading to daily discrimination. Although it is certainly true that some of these neurological differences are disabling regardless of the social world in which they are experienced, what is often far more disabling is the type of discrimination folks who are different face, often due to well-meaning folks applying neuronormative expectations to folks who are just wired differently. 

The result of this is the same kind of power dynamics that lead to discrimination of racial, sexual, religious, and gender minorities also results in discrimination against neurominorities. It is important to emphasize that although there are similarities among different types of discriminatory practices, each groups’ experience of discrimination is very different and drawing direct comparisons always risks invalidating folks’ experiences. Still, familiar concepts like privilege, power maintenance, systemic discrimination, microaggressions, etc apply to the experience of people who are neurominorities. As a result, an important part of neurodiversity informed treatment includes educating our client’s social, academic, vocational environment about how these forms of discrimination manifest and how this leads to worse mental health (and life in general) outcomes. 

The Neurodivergent Collective team understand this because most of us also are neurominorities! Living and navigating the world helps us understand each client’s unique perspective and experience, thus informing how we help all humans re-discover (or discover for the first time) how they can embody the uniqueness of their neurotype to the best of their lived ability.

What is affirming care

The Neurodivergent Collective works within the Neurodiversity Affirming Paradigm in all aspects of clinical work with clients. Given the nature of the medical model of diagnosis for mental health treatment, we acknowledge some language on this site reflect the medical model of frameworks. If you have questions about our treatment philosophy or practice, please let us know below.

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