Claiming Space: Asserting Neurodiversity Identity in a Neurotypical World

In various spheres, we are witnessing a notable shift in language usage and perception. Often, I find myself engaging in discussions with individuals resistant to this linguistic evolution, fearing linguistic rigidity or deeming it improper. However, I firmly believe that language is a living organism, constantly evolving. It’s about understanding, embracing, or potentially being left behind.

Consider two examples. In a past interview on Canada’s CBC’s radio show “Q,” Stephen Fry, multifaceted actor, comedian, director, and author, discussed the evolution of language within the Twitterverse, now known as X. He likened the brevity of tweets to a modern-day reflection of the evolution of the English language from Old English.

Another instance involves the late comedian George Carlin. In his 1990 show, “Doing It Again,” (Time frame 0:16-0:39) Carlin highlighted how organizations seek to control thought by controlling language, emphasizing that we think in language. Thus, altering words and phrases can restrict information, shaping acceptable behavior and identities.

Language shapes our understanding and interactions

This article explores the profound importance of identity and perception within the Neurodivergent community. There has been a noticeable departure from terms such as “disabled” or “diagnosed,” with a growing preference for self-chosen labels. This shift aims to redefine how individuals are perceived and treated in society, recognizing that language shapes our understanding and interactions. Terms like Neurodiversity, Neurodivergent, Neurodiverse, and Neurospicy exemplify this evolving linguistic landscape, reflecting a movement towards self-empowerment and reclaiming narratives within the neurodiverse community.
Similarly, discussions within the community often revolve around whether Neurodivergence is viewed as a superpower or a disability. Each individual or group within the community has the right to choose their language, reflecting their unique identity. Crucially, respecting and understanding these choices is paramount.

Workplaces to adapt to these changing dynamics

Moving forward, it’s essential for employers and workplaces to adapt to these changing dynamics. My Previous blog and podcast posts have highlighted how requiring a formal diagnosis poses a barrier to Neurodivergent individuals receiving necessary support. This reluctance, I believe, stems from society’s skepticism towards unseen conditions.

When an employee discloses their neurotype(s), they are asserting their identity. They have lived with these conditions, conducting extensive research to understand their challenges and strengths. Employers must respect this chosen language, recognizing that each individual’s needs vary. Under EU and Maltese Law, failure to provide reasonable accommodations is considered discrimination, regardless of a formal diagnosis.

Closing Thoughts

Businesses must redefine their approach to accommodate varying needs. Neurodivergent employees are eager to contribute meaningfully to their careers. Respecting their identities, understanding their needs, and providing necessary support is not just a legal obligation but also sound business practice.



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Listen to this topic and others like it on my podcast Take A Leap & Transform: A Neurodiversity Journey

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