Why is neurodiversity classified as a mental illness?

Neurodiversity refers to the different ways that the mind can work and interpret information. Some people naturally think about things differently. We all have different interests and motivations, and are naturally better at some things and poorer at others.

Most people are neurotypical, meaning that the mind functions and processes information in the way society expects.

Neurodiversity includes (but is not limited to):

  • Dyslexia (estimated 10% of the population)
  • Dyspraxia (up to 5% of the population)
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • ‘ADHD’ (estimated 4% of the population)
  • Those on the autistic spectrum (1-2% of the population)

Some people have more than one form of neurodiversity, which all together involves more than 15% of the population.

Neurodiverse people often have particular strengths, alongside whatever particular difficulties they face. Concerning neurodiversity in the workplace, for instance, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) say that:

  • Those who are dyslexic “can often be very good at creative thinking and problem solving, story-telling and verbal communication.”
  • Those with ADHD “can often be good at completing urgent, or physically demanding tasks, pushing on through set-backs and showing a passion for their work.”
  • “People on the autistic spectrum are often very thorough in their work, punctual and rule observant. Many autistic people develop special interests and can hold high levels of expertise in their given topic.”
  • “People with dyspraxia often have good literacy skills and can be very good at creative, holistic, and strategic thinking.”

So why are various forms of neurodiversity cited as types of disorder in the ‘bible’ of psychiatry, namely the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders?

You can find out more about neurodiversity in the work place from here.

And below you can watch various short video clips about neurodiversity in the workplace:

Kate Gilbert from Genius Within talks about how her ADHD is supported at work
Luca Borrelli from @GSTTnhs talks about being autistic in the workplace
Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder)
Fundraiser Jonathan Levy talks about how he is supported at work
Why should employers be taking steps to support neurodiversity in their workplace?
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