Why it’s good to know if your brain works differently than the usual

What I really liked about my ADHD diagnosis a few years ago is that I finally understood why my brain, thoughts and actions often worked so differently than others. That doesn’t my brain is wrong, or stupid. But I tried, so to speak, to fit into a round shape while being a square figure. Of course that never fits.

Most people don’t even think about why things are the way they are. Because for most people how things work make a lot of sense, because everything connects well to their brain. There is an average, something that most people fit or meet, and that is what the usual school, work and living systems are designed for.

And that can be a problem if what is seen as ‘normal’ doesn’t feel so normal to you at all. Because you bump into things again and again. And you – usually unintentionally – do things differently than how it ‘should go’. And the weird thing is: most people somehow do know what the intention is. As if a great manual of life has been written, but you can’t read it.

For people who recognize themselves in terms like AD(H)D, autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, giftedness and high sensitivity, ‘the common way’ is not always logical, normal or easy. And that is why they – in all degrees – may have more difficulty in functioning well in the field of learning, school, work or everyday affairs. Not because they are dumber, lazy, or unruly, but because their brain really works differently and doesn’t connect well with things like learning methods, rules, workplaces and forms.

Fortunately, more and more attention is being paid to this, and the term neurodiversity fits in nicely with this.

‚ÄúNeurodiversity simply means that there are differences between people’s brains and thus different ways of thinking and learning. The standard brain does not exist. Just as we have biodiversity, cultural and racial diversity, so too there is diversity in brains and we call that neurodiversity. The neurodiversity approach invites you to look at the overall picture of a person’s capabilities. By approaching all brains as diverse, more equality is created.” (Source: impulsenwoortblind.nl, translated it myself)

So instead of trying to fit everyone into the ‘common box’, and label everyone who doesn’t – quite – fit as a problem, it can help if we are aware of and acknowledge that there are always natural differences people’s brains. And embrace that. Because we need all types and sizes of brains for a healthy, sustainable, fun, productive, pleasant and creative society!

(This is the second column I wrote for the Dutch site about mental awareness ikbenopen.nl. Here you can read this column on that site. )