The terms around neurodiversity are controversial for many reasons. If our goal is to improve mental health for all we should maybe think about adjusting terminology.
Issues around current terminology
Neurodiversity is not clearly defined. The term has been co-opted by many ableist organizations pushing the “superpower” narrative of living with Autism especially and using productive and capitalist language to talk of inclusion.
This focus in the neurodiversity movement has made some, especially those with higher current needs for support who feel excluded by this movement.
Neurotypical – this is possibly my biggest issue with language at the moment. What is a neurotypical person? When I see this used it’s always in a negative framing. There are many who feel isolated when we use this language, also people who are undiagnosed may feel excluded, they might not be neurotypical, but due to the ambiguity around the definition do not identify as neurodiverse.
Neuroplasticity – there is substantial evidence that the brain can change dependent on factors in someone’s life. If we limit to lifetime conditions in our definition of Neurodiverse then people who experience short-term mental health issues (which do happen) feel excluded.
A set of new terms, and clarification of existing terms.
Neurotypical should go (in my humble opinion). It’s divisive in nature.
Neuroinclusive/Neuroinclusive Society/Neuroinclusivity as the movement– this means anyone who has different ways of thinking including long-term disabilities, varying needs of support, temporary mental health problems, with a strict definition to exclude productive capacity from using this term. It should be a movement focused on increasing positive outcomes, especially those with the current highest needs as a priority.
Neuroexclusionary society instead of neurotypical. In the context of growing up in a society that was not Neuroinclusive.
Neurodiverse/Neurodivergent – as a self-identifying term is fine. It should be used in place of neurotypical, this allows opt-in rather than divisiveness. You can also frame questions with ‘or when you were growing up Neurodivergent/neurodiverse?’
This is an open discussion. Would love to hear your feedback.