If my memory is correct, I first heard the term “neurotypical” while watching the TV show Atypical*, about a family with a teenage son with Asperger's. Although I understood what the word meant, I looked up the definition for the sake of this post.
Google said, “not displaying or characterized by autistic or other neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behavior.”
Urban Dictionary told me that it's a word “used to describe a person who has a typical brain. This not only includes non-autistic people, but also people without mental illnesses, intellectual disabilities or any other neurological illness or disorder such as epilepsy or brain tumours.”
Between first being exposed to the term “neurotypical” and googling it, I saw it used in older articles about ADD and ADHD and other brain health conditions.
I quickly decided that I don't like the word. To me, classifying people as “neurotypical” or “atypical” indicates individuals either have a “normal” (neurotypical) brain or an abnormal one. While there is such a thing as a “healthy brain” and brain health is one of my primary areas of focus these days, I've always been bothered by classifying people in ways that marginalize them. We are all different, yes, and I believe in embracing those differences, but “neurotypical” and “atypical” make me uncomfortable.
However, humans see the world through words and classification, and I understand that it's easier to make sense of the world that way.
If a healthy brain is neurotypical and AD(H)D, depression, Alzheimer's, dementia, anxiety are all brain health issues, then people with those conditions are atypical.
Mental health=brain health
Mental health and brain health are not the same, but they are interconnected, and people often miss the “brain health” part of the picture.
Perception is interesting. Someone contact me twice via contact form on my website, both times referencing that I write about disabilities. Except, I don’t write about disabilities. At least, I don’t think I do. My reaction to those two emails was to recoil and think, “Has this person read my website? I don’t write about disabilities.” It’s possible that she didn’t read my website (it’s common for bloggers to receive pitches from people who haven’t read their blogs). However, it’s also possible that some people could perceive it that way.
It's not how I define myself. I don't consider myself disabled because I have ADHD. I have a different brain. That said, if I had a brain scan that was compared to the scans of others, my brain activity would differ. Of this, I have no doubt.
I was born this way, and symptoms may have been intensified by activities such as antibiotic use when I was a child (though antibiotics were probably necessary, we didn't know about probiotics), eating foods that aren't good for my gut, and other factors. The mind and body are one, which I'll discuss in my next post.
I have what I call ADD “flare-ups” when the symptoms are predominantly active, and then there are times when the symptoms are dormant. I created my PRIMED system of AD(H)D management based on what makes mine flare up and what keeps it dormant.
My different brain also contributes to anxiety and depression as well as candida flare-ups, which are common in people with AD(H)D. Fungal infections and yeast overgrowth affect the brain. Clearing that stuff up can go a long way to reduce or eliminate symptoms of ADD, depression, anxiety and other brain/mental health issues. Again, brain-body connection.
When I use the phrase “brain health” I'm talking about the physical brain. It's neurological. It involves neurotransmitters. When I talk about “mental health” it's less tangible. It's more the affect of stress, which can be environmental, social or physical.
A healthy brain relies on the right nutrition, feeding it what it needs both in the form of whole foods and supplements, and water. It relies on physical exercise. A healthy mind is aided by thoughts, brain exercises, meditation, routines and the right environment. Both a healthy brain and a healthy mind rely on downtime and rest.
You'll learn more about this from me over time. Without intending to, I've just described my PRIMED system for bringing your life into balance so that you can achieve harmony.
There's more to come.
Taking it back to the term “neurotypical”
As I was finishing this post I came across a term that I do like. I will save that for another day.
(Here is that post.)
*Find it. Watch it. I don't know how realistic it portrays Asperger's because I don't have experience with it, but by the end, I saw it as a show about a family. Asperger's was secondary.