Struggling Learner or Neurodiverse?

When searching for resources for your child with learning differences, you’ve likely come across the term neurodiversity a time or two.


The trouble that I have with this popular label, strangely enough, is the same point that some people make in favor of using it.


5 children sitting, looking toward city skyline

That point is, neurodiverse essentially describes, well, everyone.


We humans all think and feel and act differently.  Our brains are like fingerprints; no two are alike.   Therefore, we are ALL neurodiverse.


I get it.  That’s essentially the point.  Dyslexia, for example, is simply a variation in the way someone thinks and learns.  Autism is a variation from what we might refer to as “the norm.”


In the eyes of many, variations shouldn’t necessarily be considered disabilities.  I agree.


The term neurodiverse, however, is often used to describe students with autism, students with learning differences, students with intellectual disabilities, students with severe emotional trauma, behavioral issues, sensory challenges, and on it goes.


Lumping every unique learner into a single-word descriptor essentially nullifies how unique they are.  Not only that, but finding services, organizations and communities tailored specifically to your child’s unique needs becomes even more difficult and confusing.


Yes, describing dyslexia and autism in the context of neurodiversity is a sign of respect.  It means that we recognize we ALL think and learn differently.  We are ALL just as neurodiverse as everyone else.


So, my position is this.  When you want to help your child with learning differences feel just as capable and just as smart as everyone else, by all means, explain the concept of neurodiversity.  When you’re looking for training and services that fit, on the other hand, embrace your child’s unique “learning differences.”


Care to learn my take on another popular term?  Read: To Say or Not to Say Dyslexia.