ADHD is considered neurodivergent meaning that a person’s neurological functions deviate from regular functions of the human brain.
ADHD isn’t the only form of neurodivergence though, autism ( a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior), dyslexia (a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling), schizophrenia (a chronic, severe mental disorder that affects the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others) are also along with forms of neurodivergence. Basically, anyone who has a brain that functions differently and may need a little help.
A lot of these forms of neurodivergence are only being more thoroughly researched in recent years as more people are open to getting diagnosed and the mental health field is expanding. Previously neurodivergent people suffered prejudice and risk of being institutionalized so many people would do anything to avoid being labeled crazy. Some might say that that was only in the 1960s but if you look at the recent case of Britney Spears who lost authority over her life for twelve years and was abused for having a mental breakdown in her twenties (which realistically speaking is something that we can all relate to). Britney isn’t the only person this has happened to, for decades many stories of people who were unfairly deemed “irrational” or “crazy” were not given a chance to heal or go through behavioral therapy, they weren’t given a voice in decisions that’s pertained to their life. And as the world, we sat and watched and thought “at least I’m not crazy like that” while not realizing that there were people around us or even us suffering the repercussions of an undiagnosed mental disorder/disability.
Growing up all I knew about schizophrenics was that they were crazy, saw things that weren’t there, and needed to be institutionalized. I feared them without ever having run across an actual schizophrenic myself. The idea of the existence of someone who acted out and saw things that weren’t there frightened me. I never considered the humanity of the person with schizophrenia mostly due to the fact the media around me always portrayed them in such a negative light. Then I read the book “If Elephants Can Fly” written in the view of someone at high risk of schizophrenia and it made me realize what a hypocritical bigot I was. Here I was trying to make people understand ADHD when I was subliminally prejudiced against other forms of neurodivergence!
Reading the book triggered me to watch YouTube videos where people with schizophrenia talked about their experiences, what medications they took, whether that helped get rid of the hallucinations and I realized that the majority of schizophrenics didn’t need institutionalization, they just needed a system that understood their humanity and catered to their needs so that they could function to the best of their ability, just like people with ADHD.
Of course, people are complaining that every day someone finds a new mental illness or those things didn’t exist in their time, but maybe it’s just that we refused to acknowledge the existence of people who veered from norms for a long time and hide them in the dark corners where they could not be seen or heard so that we could feel comfortable. Neurodivergence has a lot of identities that people will struggle to understand, but inevitably each identity deserves a place in this world.