What is Neurodiversity?

Quote from Leena

Hi, I'm Leena. I work on a BBC project researching Neurodiversity in employment. I also happen to be neurodiverse, because I have autism.

Note: Leena's autism means she sees things better in pictures - we here at BodyPositive have tried to replicate her original article as accurately as possible with images of our own.


So what's Neurodiversity? At the BBC we define it as a wide spectrum that covers a range of hidden neurological conditions like Autism/Asperger's, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Tourette's, learning disabilities - to name just a few!

I'm not weird, I'm a limited edition

Being neurodiverse means that your brain is wired differently - it doesn't mean you're weird or stupid. It means you think and learn in a different way to other people and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can mean that you are better at some things than many other people.

Growing up with a hidden or learning disability can make it difficult to relate to the world around you, especially when it comes to socialising and communicating with people. It can feel lonely, but it does get better with time.

Three dinosaurs, one wearing a hat

It helps to spend time with people you trust, like your friends and family. Having a group of supportive people around you is important because they can encourage you to be the best you can possibly be. You want to be around people who can tell you that you can achieve instead of telling you that you can't.

The outside world can seem like a pretty scary place, especially when you get bogged down by so much information (people talking at you, crowded places, sirens), so your anxiety levels shoot up to the point where you hide. That way you don't have to worry about the rest of the world seeing you freak out.

you are not alone

Sometimes you feel people don't understand you or you don't understand them. Don't worry about expecting acceptance from others, first learn to accept yourself. Be happy with who you are. Don't change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love you.

A lot of people experience anxiety, but if you're neurodiverse it can feel like the end of the world as you know it. It can be challenging growing up knowing that you are different and that you struggle more than other kids. It can also affect your self esteem.

a girl feeling that she is still not good enough

As if that's not tough enough, sometimes other people also have a go at you for being different. This can be really difficult to deal with on top of everything else and it helps to find someone to talk to.

You're not alone, even though it might sometimes feel like it. There are lots of people who are going through the same things you are.

Don't worry about keeping up with other people. Use your own methods and strategies and go at your own pace.

a tortoise and a hare in a race

Whatever you want to do in life, find a place where you can achieve things based on what you're good at and what you're interested in.

Like these cool talented people who were just like you when they were younger, they're successful now because they focused on what they enjoyed doing and played to their strengths. If they can do it, so can you!

a silhouette of a crowd dancing with one member orange

Remember - be unique, be you!

For more information on neurodiversity at the BBC, visit our Diversity website.

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