Neurodiversity: The Dangers of Labelling People

What is Stigma?

Stigma is discrimination against a person based on perceivable characteristics or traits. The stigma of being labelled as “different” by family, friends, co-workers, employers, and society overall is quite detrimental to one’s self-esteem.  It can have a negative impact on how you see yourself and it can affect both your relationships and your productivity. This can lead to severe mental illness such as depression, self-loathing and worst of all, an increased rate of suicide.


The Fear of Being Labelled

Due to the stigma that comes with the label “Neurodiverse”, parents don’t want their kids’ peers to know that they have been diagnosed with a learning disability. Unfortunately, the shame these kids feel is carried with them into adulthood. They are afraid of how being neurodiverse will affect their ability to hold a job or be successful.


Joseph K Muscat Consulting


As we can see, this is quite a vicious cycle.

I have to admit, I can completely relate to this. I lived under that stigma until I began confronting and embracing my neurodiversity.  It was because of that very stigma, that fear of how I will be judged despite my accomplishments, that I held myself back.

Once you actually manage to get yourself a job, there is the fear of your neurodiversity being discovered, despite trying to hide it or cope with it as best you can. Dealing with the horrible feeling of being labelled as a “difficult employee” isn’t easy. They can see there is something different about you, in some cases, they just can’t pinpoint what it is, while in others they don’t want to know. They sometimes even look for ways to make things difficult so you will be left with no option but to leave or just let you go outright.

As I thought more deeply about this I began to see things from a different perspective.


Labels Can Empower You

Unfortunately, labels give people a predefined interpretation of you, but on the flip side, labels can also empower you. When we don’t allow ourselves to be defined or we don’t embrace a label, then we stumble through life not knowing who we are and why we think or do things in a particular way.

In the case of an individual with learning difficulties, without the defined label they wander through life facing challenges and not understanding why they hit these walls.

The label of “I have a learning difficulty and it is called_______(fill in the blank)” empowers you to know what you have. By knowing the terminology, it will help you understand how you think, what tools you need to tackle the things that challenge you and help you to break through the walls you face.


Does your business or employer need help in setting up a more Neurodiverse environment?  If so, contact me  here for a free consultation

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