One of the biggest misconceptions in the modern age is equating being “different” or “neurodivergent” with being wrong or with having a disability. Society tends to push for normative culture, and this pushes the narrative that in being neurodivergent, and therefore wrong, something in a neurodivergent person needs to be fixed. This line of thinking is false. The words neurotypical and neurodivergent, with their respective positive and negative connotations, suggest that there is a single, correct way to think, to accomplish tasks, and to live life. This is far from reality. Neurodivergent people are actually wired to achieve wonderful, crazy, and awesome things.
The world has consistently been against neurodivergence until the modern era. You might ask, “Is this a 21st century problem? Where were the neurodivergent people in history?” The sad truth is that people got rid of children with disabilities because they were different from the norm society demanded. Neurotypical brains are just what they sound like: The typical line of thinking that can be described as in-the-box. Neurodivergent brains are wired to think outside of the box, to come up with brand new ways of executing jobs, to be creative, and to turn things upside-down with questions that help people reexamine the “why” behind how certain tasks are done. Normative culture squashes this type of creative, fun brain by trying to shove every child’s brain through the same mold and giving them the same tools.
Visualize an elementary school classroom. Inside this classroom is a poster that reads, “Imagine a wizard who’s responsible for your grades, choices, successes, words, and alat berkebun actions.” Under each of those words on the poster is a mirror. The child sees him or herself inside the mirror. Successes and grades look different for everyone but are often harder for neurodivergent students to achieve in a way that fits within neurotypical culture. Neurodivergent children may develop a fear of achievement, aversion to pressure, or consider themselves not enough because they cannot meet the demands society and academia makes of them.
To turn normative culture on its head and make room for children and adults like us who struggle with neurodivergent wirings and diagnoses like ADHD or autism, society needs to understand that being different is a superpower! For most people, including neurodivergents, a steady routine coupled with a healthy lifestyle helps promote a calmer and cleaner mindset. Those who are neurodivergent will have their own best way of accomplishing tasks and connecting their inner “responsibility wizard” to their work and life.