What is neurodiversity?

 Everyone’s brain is different and develops in its own way. Neurodiversity refers to diversity in the ways in which people experience the world, be it at school, at work or in social settings. Neurotypical individuals’ brain functions are considered “usual” or “expected by society.”

Understanding neurodivergence

Individuals naturally approach thinking in various ways. Neurodivergent individuals’ brains are unique and their behaviors or responses differ from what is expected socially, physically or verbally. Approximately 15-20% of the population is neurodivergent. Some of the most prevalent conditions among individuals who identify as neurodivergent are:

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Down syndrome
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.
  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Social anxiety
  •  Tourette syndrome
  • Williams syndrome

Myths and facts about neurodiversity

 Understanding neurodiversity and the specific challenges neurodivergent individuals face is crucial for creating inclusive and supportive environments. By educating ourselves, we can dismantle stereotypes and stigmas that inadvertently affect others.

Myth: Neurodiversity is the same as ASD.

Fact: Neurodiversity includes ASD, as well as other neurological conditions, such as ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, intellectual disabilities, Tourette’s syndrome, obsessive- compulsive disorder (OCD) and other mental health conditions.

Myth: All neurodiverse individuals are the same/similar.

 Fact: All individuals, whether neurotypical or neurodiverse, are unique in their learning and experiences. Recognizing the diversity within neurodiverse individuals is key to developing inclusive environments.

Myth: Neurodivergent individuals lack communication skills. 

Fact: Like neurotypical individuals, neurodivergent individuals have diverse communication styles. Many communicate effectively in their own unique ways. Tailoring communication strategies to diverse styles fosters inclusivity and supports personal growth.

Myth: Neurodivergent individuals choose not to engage in forming relationships.

Fact: Many neurodivergent individuals genuinely desire connections with others but often feel sadness or a sense of isolation when faced with difficulties in forming those connections. Nonetheless, they can have authentic, enduring relationships, particularly when others are accepting and mindful of their differences.

Myth: Neurodivergent individuals have little chance of succeeding in school, at work or in their communities.

Fact: With equitable opportunities and tools, neurodivergent individuals can be just as successful as others.

Famous neurodivergent personalities

 Many well-known individuals are neurodivergent and have made extraordinary contributions to our world.

  • Benjamin Banneker—Self-taught African American mathematician, astronomer and inventor who was appointed by President George Washington to assist in the surveying and planning of Washington, DC
  • Simone Biles—African-American gymnast who has won numerous Olympic and World Championship medals and is considered one of the greatest gymnasts of all time
  • Tim Burton—American filmmaker, artist, writer and animator known for his unique and imaginative film style, including “Edward Scissorhands” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”
  • Lewis Carroll— English writer, mathematician and photographer who is best known for his literary works, particularly “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass”
  • Bill Gates—Co-founder of Microsoft and a leading figure in the development of personal computing
  • Thomas Jefferson—One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and third president of the United States
  • Michaelangelo—Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect and poet who is renowned for masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the statue of David
  • Nikola Tesla—A Serbian-American inventor who made significant contributions to the development of alternating current (AC) electrical systems and other inventions
  • Emma Watson—English actor and model known for her role as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” film series and being an advocate for women’s rights

Neurodiversity involves acknowledging and valuing the diverse ways our brains work. Neurodivergent individuals experience, interact with and interpret the world in distinctive ways. When we appreciate and celebrate neurodiversity, we cultivate inclusive communities that allow neurodivergent individuals to thrive.

 How can I learn more about neurodiversity and neurodivergence?

Find more information and helpful resources at, including online and tech-enabled resources to help neurodivergent individuals navigate daily life and empower parents, families and caregivers to support children on their journeys.