Proposal: Neurodiversity

The description of the proposal is currently:

Proposed Q&A site for the people looking to know more about neurodiversity (autism, ADH-D, dys- spectrum, OCD ...) and for neurodiverse people looking for some advice on how to deal with neurotypical-based situations.

It's the "..." that's bugging me ;)

I noticed that most of the questions in the proposal currently relate to people on the autism spectrum. When I searched for definitions of neurodiversity, many of the results focused on autism as well. A few mentioned ADD/ADHD and dyslexia, and fewer still mentioned things ranging from OCD to epilepsy, to even left-handedness and homosexuality - I'm not sure how legitimate that particular source is, but it goes to show that there's a wide variety of things that people may consider to be "neurodivergent".

So I'm wondering, how will we decide what is on- and off- topic? Is there a specific definition of "neurodiverse" to use?

(FWIW I was trying to figure out if things like anxiety, depression, BPD, etc. were on topic (probably not, right?). So while this might be a slightly ignorant question, I'm sure if this site is launched there will be others like me trying to ask about all sorts of things!)

  • FYI: the "..." are only here because the proposal's description length is too short to write them all done... If you have a better idea on how to phrase this, please share, I'd be happy to put a better alternative :) In the meantime, should this proposal be launched someday, we could include the full list of all those conditions in the help center or tour. – avazula Feb 6 at 8:03
  • OCD is normally considered a mood disorder, not a neurodiversity. Are there psychologists, doctors, etc who do call it a neurodiversity? – curiousdannii Feb 10 at 23:36
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    @curiousdannii The Wikipedia page and a couple other sites I found include OCD as examples. But I'm no psychologist; I asked this question because I couldn't find a clear, authoritative definition. If you know of a standard for what professionals "normally" consider to be neurodiverse vs. something else, that'd make a really helpful answer :) – Em C Feb 11 at 0:16
  • @EmC Interesting, thanks for the link. Personally I'd worry that makes the term too broad to be useful. Definitely highlights the need for this question to be answered though! – curiousdannii Feb 11 at 0:20

autism, ADH-D, dys-spectrum, OCD

These things all have a common trait. Namely, they are neurologically based conditions that are diagnosable by a health care professional. I think that this is a good place to start when it comes to defining what qualifies as neurodivergent. We should be looking for reliable medical resources to help us define what is and isn't a form of neurodiversity. The only resource I'm aware of is DSM-5. We could start with that, but I think we'll want to have the input of professionals, at least to begin with.

  • Ok, so that would include things like anxiety, depression, epilepsy, plus Alzheimer's, dementia.. I think it's the specific examples that were throwing me off. I'm still a little hazy on what is considered "neurologically based" (not being a professional and all, I'll have to research some more) but this seems like a good start :) – Em C Feb 5 at 21:27
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    @EmC Mood disorders, epilepsy, dementia etc may be in the DSM-5 but they shouldn't automatically be included here. – curiousdannii Feb 10 at 23:37
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    Neurodiversity seems to me to be about a positive approach of neurological differences (alternate ways of thinking/being, of processing information). Dementia and epilepsy both probably aren't viewed as a positive thing or an alternate way of thinking. Depression, though it makes one think differently (more negativity) for duration of the episode, is also not a positive thing. Depression also is a state of mind, like anxiety is. Autism or ADHD clearly are not "just" a state of mind, they have the factor of 'consistency' and some traits can be viewed as positive instead of 'symptoms'. – Wieger Apr 16 at 19:33
  • I would say this approach ties the proposal to things that society has already determined it does not like. Neurodiversity is an attempt to reframe on our own terms to show that we're not a problem. We're not going to manage to do that if we define it in terms of what most people currently think are terms for crazy. – Ed Grimm May 4 at 16:41

You're right, the specific examples do make it ambiguous and confusing as to where the boundary lies.

Existing Stack Exchange sites don't bother with enumeration like this. The entire parenthetical should be removed so that the description is exactly that: a description. There's also a bit of fluff that is unnecessary as well.

Proposed Q&A site for those looking to know more about neurodiversity and for neurodiverse people looking for advice on how to deal with neurotypical-based situations.

Other than that, what is and isn't neurotypical (for the purpose of topicality) will end up being determined once the site is in beta, since one of the basic points is that it's a huge range of things, not all of which might be exemplified before then.

  • I like that proposal! Just one question: should we adopt this phrasing, do you think we should provide a list of all conditions labeled as neurodiverse in the help center or tour? While I agree that this phrasing is way clearer, I think it'd be helpful for people to know what qualifies as a neurodiverse condition. What do you think about it? – avazula Feb 6 at 8:05
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    No. You might offer a set of criteria by which the grey band between black and white is narrowed, but there will always be things that require case-specific decision, and other sites have found that kind of thing takes months or years to truly settle down, so trying to do it from the start won't help anyway. – Nij Feb 6 at 8:45
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    I like this description as well - not trying to prematurely narrow the scope, just was confused whether it was a coincidence that the first batch of questions were about autism. I've proposed a couple more "diverse" examples to test the waters :) – Em C Feb 6 at 14:02
  • Yes, it will just be that one or two users asked about a subject they're specifically interested in. A broader range of questions should develop if the proposal is functioning well. – Nij Feb 6 at 18:43

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