It needs to be said: language has become a weapon. As slurs and medical ailments come to define a person’s whole self, they quickly become invisible. But it doesn’t have to be this way—and the neurodiversity movement understands this completely.
“Neurodiversity” is nothing new, referring to those on the autism spectrum, those with unconventional learning needs, and people struggling with incapacitating mental illness—in short, those that society has otherwise labelled ‘mentally different’. But “difference” can be isolating: by labelling people as an ‘other’, people fail to take their needs into account, and as such, forget their humanity.
Modern Divergence, also known as MoDiv, wants to change this narrative. We’re looking to raise awareness on how neurodivergent youths’ mental and developmental health is impacted by stigma, inefficient pediatric healthcare, and society-at-large. Soon, we see even more neurodivergent individuals rising up to lead this cause.
With everything happening in our midst, making a direct impact has proven difficult. But this isn’t an excuse to remain inactive: during a time when connectivity proves so volatile, collaboration is one of the many ways we can keep it going. In working together with dozens of other youth non-profits, MoDiv has launched several initiatives to appeal for more mentally-inclusive and neurodiverse policies in schools all over the world.
Since our launch in June of 2019, we have gained over 90 members spanning 12 American states and 21 nations (with headquarters in the Philippines). But we concentrate our efforts on the challenges faced by all neurodivergent individuals: regardless of where they are. Neurodivergence is truly and wholly a cultural movement, and we see this reflected in every single one of our projects. With MoDiv Talks, an award-winning, minority-led podcast discussing the mental health aspects of today’s biggest social issues, we allow our audience to tune back in to the very real and very raw voices of today’s youth.
Through our efforts, we hope to empower our communities-at-large to thrive as themselves, living in harmony with the idea that there is no one ‘right’ way for the brain to work. “We need more people seeing us as people who can do great things in our own right,” says one of our partners. “And not just people to pity.”
As we hop over the hurdles our current pandemic throws our way, we recognize the growing importance of keeping mentally healthy. As the world meets more conflict and social unrest, dialogue proves more critical than ever—and we the youth are ready to take a stand.