Neurodivergence basically means being in your brain in a way that’s outside of what’s considered the norm. Here’s how to determine if you’re neurodivergent or not.

People come in all shapes and sizes, so it makes sense that our brains would be diverse, too.

Neurodivergence refers to those with thought patterns, behaviors, or ways of learning that don’t neatly fit into what’s considered neurotypical. Rather than a clinical term, it’s a subjective identity that can help people adapt better to the world around them.

According to the National Institute for Health (NIH), an estimated 15–20% of the world population has some form of neurodivergence.

Here’s what else to know about being neurodivergent.

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Since there’s no standard clinical definition of cognitively normal, defining neurodivergence can get tricky. But some conditions that may be considered to manifest with neurodivergent tendencies include:

The term neurodiversity started catching on in the late ‘90s, around the time when there was a significant spike in the number of diagnosed developmental disorders like ADHD and autism.

While it may make some aspects of life more challenging, neurodivergence also can often come with “superpowers” like extreme creativity, memory, or heightened flow states. For that reason, it can even be a reason to celebrate. 🎉

Some traits that are commonly associated with neurodivergence include:

  • enhanced pattern recognition
  • advanced problem solving
  • increased sensory perception
  • feelings of overstimulation
  • issues with time management
  • either hyper-focus or lack of focus
  • extreme sensitivity
  • challenges learning or retaining info
  • more creativity
  • nonlinear thinking
  • synesthesia
  • challenges working in groups

At the moment, neurodivergence is based on subjective societal standards and not on an official medical diagnosis. For that reason, being neurodivergent is an identity you can identify with.

You may want to take an online test like this one to gauge your level of neurodivergence. If you score relatively high for neurodivergent traits (since it’s more of a spectrum), then you may want to seek the support of a mental health pro.

Answering the following Qs might also help you assess your level:

  1. Do you often feel overwhelmed with day-to-day life?
  2. Do you find it challenging to understand or regulate your emotions?
  3. Are you sensitive to big crowds, noises, lights, or other stimulation?
  4. Do you feel like your thoughts are constantly racing?
  5. Do you feel stressed when plans suddenly change?
  6. Do you struggle to stay organized, focus, or keep up with work or school?
  7. Do you often feel uncomfortable, confused, or anxious in social situations?
  8. Do you sometimes feel like the world wasn’t “set up” for you?

FYI: Online quizzes can suggest conditions like OCD or ADHD, but only doctors can diagnose them.

Yes, it’s possible to be neurodivergent and not know. Since we may not understand precisely what others’ inner experiences are like, it can be challenging to recognize abnormal cognition within ourselves.

But remember, since there’s not yet a formal, clinical definition for neurodivergence, it’s ultimately up to you and a mental health pro to find the language and labels that work best for you!

A pro can also formally diagnose you with a condition commonly associated with neurodivergence, such as ADHD, OCD, or autism.

Neurodivergence is an umbrella term for a range of cognitive patterns, behaviors, or ways of thinking that fall outside what’s considered normal.

If you relate to signs of neurodivergence, seeking support from a mental health professional for a formal assessment is recommended. A professional can guide you to the coping mechanisms, resources, and treatments needed to live fully and well.