Neurodiversity is a concept that acknowledges the natural variation in human neurological functioning and emphasizes the importance of recognizing and respecting different neurological styles and traits. It recognizes that individuals with different neurological styles have different strengths and weaknesses, and that these differences should be accepted and valued in society.
The term neurodiversity was first introduced by sociologist Judy Singer in the late 1990s and has since been embraced by many people in the autism community and other neurodivergent communities (Armstrong, 2010). The concept of neurodiversity is gaining recognition in fields such as psychology, education, and social work.
The concept of neurodiversity includes the idea of neurodivergence, which refers specifically to individuals whose neurological functioning diverges significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal” or “typical.” Neurodivergent individuals may have conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, or Tourette’s syndrome, among others (Jaarsma & Welin, 2011).
The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes the importance of the concept of neurodiversity and the need to respect and accommodate individuals with neurodivergent traits. In their most recent publication manual, APA7, they state that “diverse experiences, identities, and perspectives contribute to the richness of human society and should be valued” (APA, 2019, p. 97). Furthermore, the APA acknowledges that there is a need for greater awareness and understanding of neurodiversity among mental health professionals and the general public (Kapp & Gillespie-Lynch, 2020).
Other scholars have also discussed the concept of neurodiversity and its implications. For example, Davidson (2008) has argued that the neurodiversity movement challenges the exclusion of individuals with “unusual” minds from the realm of discourse, while Nicolaidis (2012) has explored the challenges and opportunities of the neurodiversity movement in relation to autism. Milton (2012) has discussed the ontological status of autism, while Singer (1999) has traced the emergence of the concept of neurodiversity in relation to the feminist movement.
Overall, the concept of neurodiversity emphasizes the importance of accepting and celebrating the natural variation in human neurological functioning, and the need to provide support and accommodations for individuals with neurodivergent traits.
American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000
Armstrong, T. (2010). Neurodiversity: Discovering the extraordinary gifts of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other brain differences. Da Capo Press.
Davidson, J. (2008). Autism and the exclusion of “unusual” minds from the realm of discourse. Disability Studies Quarterly, 28(4), 1-14.
Jaarsma, P., & Welin, S. (2011). Autism as a natural human variation: Reflections on the claims of the neurodiversity movement. Health Care Analysis, 20(1), 20-30.
Kapp, S. K., & Gillespie-Lynch, K. (2020). The contribution of the neurodiversity movement to psychology. American Psychologist, 75(2), 171-182.
Milton, D. (2012). On the ontological status of autism: The ‘double empathy problem’. Disability & Society, 27(6), 883-887.
Nicolaidis, C. (2012). Neurodiversity: The challenge of autism. Hastings Center Report,