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Neurodevelopmental Conditions: The Ultimate Thriving Differently Guide

Howdy, folks! Today, we’re gonna sit down, take off our thinking caps, and have a chinwag about neurodevelopmental conditions. Ever heard of it? Let me give you the lowdown.

Picture this – you’re baking a cake. Each ingredient you add affects how your cake turns out. Now, think of your brain as that cake. How your brain was put together when you were a baby in your mom’s belly or a lil’ tot, makes you who you are today. It’s like being a chocolate cake instead of a vanilla one. That’s what we call a neurodevelopmental condition, with ADHD being one of the headliners.

Lowdown on Neurodevelopmental conditions

With mental illness, it’s more like someone swiped your vanilla frosting with strawberry when you weren’t looking – your ‘state of mind’ is different from your ‘normal self’. But with ADHD and other neurodevelopmental conditions, there’s no ‘vanilla’ to compare with – we’re all different flavors from the start, making it tricky to figure out when someone is “treated”. The goal isn’t to change the flavor but to make sure every cake gets to be its yummiest.

Causes and categories of neurodiversity

What causes your cake – I mean, brain – to be a different flavor? It could be anything from your family’s secret recipe (genetics), a bumpy ride out of the oven (birth trauma), a pinch too much of a certain ingredient (immune disorders), or even dropping the cake (physical trauma).

And guess what? You could be a chocolate cake with sprinkles of other conditions, like autism, Asperger’s, Tourette’s syndrome, OCD, dyslexia, or dyspraxia. You could also be a savory-sweet mix, with mental health conditions like bipolar disorder thrown in. Or maybe you’ve got a side of fries in the form of physical conditions like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, or coeliac disease.

Check out this handy-dandy graphic representation of the make-up of neurodiversity, thanks to the folks at

Neurodevelopmental Conditions and Neurodiversity Diagram
Image Credit NeuroKnowHowcom

But enough about cakes, let’s chat about neurodiversity – a concept we owe to an Aussie sociologist named Judy Singer. She basically said, “Hey, aren’t our brains as diverse as our races, cultures, classes, and genders?” And boom – the term neurodiversity was born. It’s like a giant umbrella that includes all of us, the so-called “neurotypical” majority, and the 15% who are neurodiverse.

How common are neurodevelopmental conditions and neurodiversity?

A quick round-up of neurodiversity in the UK shows us that:

  • 8% of folks have ADHD
  • 10% have dyslexia
  • 8% have dyspraxia
  • 6% have dyscalculia
  • 1% fall under the autistic spectrum
  • 1% have Tourette’s syndrome.

And we’re learning that some conditions we thought were mental health issues might actually be cases of neurodiversity needing a different kind of TLC.

Now, there are folks who reckon that being a smarty pants might be a type of neurodiversity too. They point to conditions like savant syndrome and hyperthymesia, where you remember every darn thing that ever happened to you, as extreme forms of neurodiverse smarts.

See, our society is a bit like a one-size-fits-all hat. It’s built around the idea of one ‘normal’ human mind and ends up being a tight fit for those of us with bigger or smaller heads. We need to stretch that hat a bit, make room for the neurodiverse among us, and build a world that fits us all. After all, isn’t that what fairness is all about? Y’all think about that, and I’ll catch you in the next post. Till then, keep thriving differently, my friends.

frequently asked questions

What is a neurodevelopmental condition?

A neurodevelopmental condition is a condition where a person’s brain develops differently from the so-called “typical” way. This happens during the key stages of development before they were born or as a very young child. Examples include ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, Tourette’s syndrome, OCD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia.

What causes neurodevelopmental conditions?

There could be various causes, such as genetics, trauma at birth, infectious diseases, immune disorders, nutritional factors, or physical trauma.

What’s the difference between a mental illness and a neurodevelopmental condition?

In a nutshell, a mental illness is a change from your “normal” state of mind, while with neurodevelopmental conditions, there’s no “normal” to compare to. In other words, mental illness is like someone changed your frosting flavor, while a neurodevelopmental condition means you’re an entirely different flavor of cake from the start!

What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity refers to the natural differences between people’s brains. It encompasses everyone, including the neurotypical majority and the neurodiverse minority. Think of it as a term like race or culture, but for your brain.

How common are neurodevelopmental conditions in the UK?

Approximately 8% of people in the UK have ADHD, 10% have dyslexia, 8% have dyspraxia, 6% have dyscalculia, 1% fall under the autistic spectrum, and 1% have Tourette’s syndrome. About 15% of the population is considered neurodiverse.

How does understanding neurodiversity help us?

Embracing the concept of neurodiversity allows us to move away from the idea of impairment and instead celebrate everyone’s different abilities. It’s a step towards creating a more inclusive society where everyone can thrive differently.

Is being gifted a type of neurodiversity?

Some people believe that being intellectually gifted might also be a form of neurodiversity. Rare conditions like savant syndrome and hyperthymesia (where you have an extraordinarily powerful memory) are seen as extreme examples of neurodiverse giftedness. But hey, this is still a topic of debate.

Remember, folks, there’s no such thing as a silly question! If you have more questions, shoot me a message, and I’ll look into it. We’re all learning together!