Reprinted from the The Many Faces of Neurodiversity issue of Visions Journal, 2023, 18 (3), p. 4
The popular television show, The Good Doctor, chronicles the life of Shaun Murphy, a surgeon in an American hospital. Shaun has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The challenges he faces and the gifts he brings to his family, friends and work shine a light on “neurodiversity” and how difference can play out in the life of one fictional character. Real life can be just as thought-provoking as fiction.
Very recently, one of BC’s Crown ministers resigned her post and as an MLA as she found her experiences too difficult to continue on in her job. She noted her multiple intersecting identities including single motherhood, indigeneity, and having been recently diagnosed with ADHD. Though there were many influences on her decision to resign, of her ADHD she noted, “The challenge is a neurological disorder. And my brain is brilliant. I have a super power.” Her revelation and media comments are bringing further attention to neurodiversity.
In this issue of Visions we contribute to the conversation by exploring how some differences in thinking, learning, understanding, and behaving may be appreciated through a range of professional and lived experience perspectives. Our guest editor, Dr. Nancy Norman, begins our discussion with an inclusive definition of neurodiversity, along with some history of the term and potential impacts such differences may have on mental health. “Superdiversity” suggests broadening our view of diversity such that every learner has a place in a classroom that offers adequate structure and choice. Other contributors describe autism (ASD), Universal Design for Learning, Side School—one approach to working with neurodiverse students—and lived experiences of ADHD, dyslexia, and ASD. Their ideas and stories can help us not only understand, but support people who experience these differences in ways that can enhance both their and our lives. Gifts, indeed!
The Looking Ahead section introduces us to exercise and nutrition, the topic of our next issue. Articles on walking as a treatment for depression and a discussion of Canada’s new guidance on alcohol and health tease the thoughtful content to come your way!
It has been my pleasure to act as Guest Managing Editor for this issue of Visions. In Visions’ twenty-five year history this is the first time someone outside of CMHA has managed an issue. Lucky me! I have learned a great deal, not just about neurodiversity, but about the human need to understand and accept ourselves, others, and flourish in what can be a less than accepting environment.
About the author
Trudy is a knowledge mobilization specialist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) at the University of Victoria. CISUR is a member of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information