There seems to be a huge debate flying around on social media at the moment on whether you need to be officially diagnosed with a learning difference or not. Or whether you are ‘Neurodivergent’ or not, and what actually that really means. So what’s your viewpoint, where do you stand?
First of all let’s look at the reasons why people do, or don’t, get an official diagnosis:
- The waiting list is too long
- Can’t afford private assessment
- The forms and assessments required are too difficult for me to fill out
- Self-regulation is helping (lighting, noise, fabrics, comforting stimming)
- I do not need any adjustments making at work (work from home, self-employed)
- I don’t feel I need medication
- I need the diagnosis to be sure
- I would like the support and guidance from qualified professionals
- Diagnosis is needed to ensure I can request reasonable adjustments in the workplace
- Diagnosis would help with family and friends who do not fully understand as of yet.
I also think it’s useful to understand the exact meaning of the word ‘Neurodivergent’, which in itself can cause a lot of differing opinions.
The range of differences in individual brain function and behavioural traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population (used especially in the context of autistic spectrum disorders)
However, more often now Neurodiversity also includes ADHD (encompasses ADD), Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dyspraxia.
A lot of people feel this term is now overused, some even don’t like its use at all (please do comment below and let me know your feelings).
So why the shift?
Between 30% and 40% of the population are thought to be neurodiverse, and rates of SEN have been rising steadily since 2017. Not only that but when we consider that there has been a huge increase in late diagnosis of adult Dyslexia, ADHD, and ASD. As well as raised awareness, due to charity campaigns, awareness weeks/months, and celebrity stories. When we look at all this together then we can start to see why the term Neurodiverse is used more.
For me, it covers an awful lot of learning differences, that possibly not everyone is aware of. There is a huge drive to raise awareness of learning differences and difficulties. And we also have a year-on-year increase in diagnoses. I don’t personally feel that it is being overused, but maybe I’m naive.
To diagnose or not…
When we get down to whether we believe that self-diagnosis is valid or not then I have to say why does it matter?! If you understand that self-diagnosis does not give you the legal protection of an official diagnosis. That you may not be able to access the support and reasonable adjustments in education settings and the workplace. Or that you don’t feel you need those adjustments/support, then that is absolutely your choice. However do consider that while you may not need it now, it may be something you might need in the future.
If you’d asked me if I needed an official diagnosis when I was in my 20s or 30s then I would probably not have cared so much. I know someone in their 40s who knows she has ADHD but does not feel the need to have a formal diagnosis. She has a supportive partner and does not need any adjustments at work. Whereas I, at 47, have found that the Menopause and hormone imbalance has impacted my ability to cope with everyday life quite severely.
Having spoken to the doctor, I am waiting to be assessed for both ADHD and ASD. For me, it was the fact that my symptoms may have a different underlying cause than Menopause and/or Anxiety and Depression. I wanted to make sure that I was getting the correct support and medication. It was also affecting my ability to cope at work. So an official diagnosis gives me the ability to talk to my employer and work with them to ensure that reasonable adjustments are put in place.
What do I think?
I think the reality is that we have to be kind always. There are so many reasons why some people may not feel, or want to go down the route of official diagnosis. I think that we have to respect others’ choices. Whilst there may be a small percentage who self-diagnose incorrectly or do so for altruistic reasons, then isn’t there always going to be that with everything?
For me, it’s still all down to raising awareness, reducing stigma, personal educated choice, and just being kind.
Many aspects of society are based on the assumption that there is one form of ‘the human mind’ and accordingly, many systems (education, employment, health and social services, social relationships) have been built up premised on being neurotypical. Building a society that is accessible for neurodiverse people is not only beneficial for everyone, but fair.https://adhdaware.org.uk/
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