Beyond Labels: Embracing Personal Growth and Empowerment in the ND Community

A man and woman connecting
The Neurodivergent (ND) movement does some disservice in that it has introduced concepts like “society is to blame for your disability” and “neurodivergence doesn’t need to be cured or corrected.”
 
Considering the ND community is largely made up of people inclined to all-or-nothing thinking, they deduce from this that they bear no personal responsibility for anything because it’s “society’s fault.”
 
They’re also encouraged to believe that their diagnosis is their entire identity and that any effort to help them learn skills of any kind is a refusal to accept them for who they are. “I shouldn’t have to change for you, you need to change for me.” That’s a one sided-relationship where the other person is set up to fail.
 
This may not be your experience, and that’s wonderful, but I’ve seen enough folks like this over my 18 years doing this work that its worrying.
 
I emphasize personal empowerment and self-determination, which is difficult to find when it’s everyone else’s fault and you are exempt from personal growth because you have a fixed idea of who you are and who you can become, believing a diagnosis tells you everything you need to know about yourself.
 
I’ve been diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and more, but I see them as part of my experience, not all of it. Thinking of myself as human puts me in touch with far more capacity to connect with people than only thinking of the parts of me that make connection difficult.
 
I’ve received criticism for not toeing the line in terms of language and for challenging fellow folks with ND to question the limits of their diagnosis, and I’m accused of wanting to change people.
 
I’m glad I’ve done the work to improve my communication skills over the years because the fullness of my life has grown exponentially. To do that, I needed to work a lot on relating differently to my erratic emotions, intrusive negative thoughts, and depersonalizing my diagnosis.
 
This post is entirely my point of view, I make no claims of immaculate perception. I can however state emphatically that I’ve experienced far better results with my approach than by throwing up my hands and waiting for society to change.
 
Yes, I know many reading this will insist this isn’t what the ND movement is about. Maybe not in your mind, so I encourage you to read the posts getting the most traffic and I suspect their themes are, “here’s what someone else is getting wrong,” or “I am this way because of a diagnosis PERIOD.”
 
I challenge a lot of that thinking and not because of a philosophy but because myself and so many other folks with the same diagnosis have experienced tremendous growth. I admit I had the privilege of insurance, therapy, and an advanced education. Making these privileges is a sin of our capitalist system.
 
I share as much as I can online and through my newsletter to help others without these privileges to have a starting point. But they aren’t much use to people more inclined to blame than curiosity.
 
Perhaps reflecting on how you view your diagnosis and its impact on your identity could be helpful. Challenge yourself to seek personal growth and empowerment, taking steps to learn new skills and improve communication, regardless of societal perceptions.
 
Embrace the parts of your experience that go beyond your diagnosis, and recognize the potential for meaningful connections and personal development. Encourage open conversations within the ND community that promote balance, personal responsibility, and the pursuit of self-improvement. You know I’ll keep doing it.
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