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  • Writer's pictureAmy Duffy-Barnes

The Journey of Deconstructing and Reclaiming the Neurodivergent Self

Understanding False Self Constructs: False self constructs are external masks and personas that neurodivergent individuals adopt to fit into societal expectations. These constructs often suppress their authentic selves, leading to feelings of alienation, anxiety, and self-doubt. Society's reliance on neurotypical norms can perpetuate the belief that neurodivergent individuals need fixing or normalization.

Societal Institutions and False Self-Construction:

a. Education: Traditional educational systems often prioritize conformity and rigid behavioral expectations, disregarding the unique learning styles and strengths of neurodivergent individuals. This can lead to the suppression of their true identities and talents.

b. Religion: Some religious communities may view neurodivergence as a deviation from the norm, potentially fostering exclusion and misunderstanding. The pressure to conform to religious expectations may further contribute to false self-constructs.

c.Family: Well-meaning families may inadvertently reinforce societal norms, inadvertently pressuring neurodivergent individuals to mask their differences to fit in. The desire to gain acceptance and avoid stigma can lead to the adoption of a false self-construct.

d. Workplace in Toxic Capitalist Societies: In competitive work environments driven by profit, neurodivergent individuals may face significant challenges due to inflexible structures and expectations. These toxic environments can force them to suppress their authentic selves to meet productivity demands.

All of the above-listed institutions are guilty of treating autism and autistic traits and characteristics as a disease that needs to be cured. Overtly and Covertly they will relentlessly push on and attempt to shape the autonomy of the autistic person to meet their expectations, social constructs, and norms. Many of these constructs and norms are geared toxic in and of themselves.

The Importance of Deconstructing: Deconstructing the false self-construct is a vital step in the journey toward embracing neurodiversity. It involves unmasking and challenging societal narratives and expectations that have been internalized. By deconstructing these constructs, neurodivergent individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their authentic selves and reclaim their unique identities.

Reconstructing and Rediscovering a Healthy Neurodivergent Identity:

a. Self Awareness: This is the hardest part of the journey, the rediscovery of the self. You must engage in the process of remembering and realizing who you are. Stripping away the layers of the false and constructed self. This isn’t a simple process, it is complex and takes time.

b. Self-Acceptance: Embracing neurodiversity requires self-acceptance and embracing one's neurodivergent identity without shame or self-judgment. Recognizing and celebrating individual strengths and talents is crucial.

c. Self-Advocacy: Reconstructing a healthy neurodivergent identity involves advocating for one's needs, accommodations, and support systems. Building a supportive network and seeking allies can empower individuals in their journey. Often these support networks are comprised of other neurodivergent people or neurodiversity-affirming organizations.

d. Community and Connection: Connecting with the neurodivergent community provides a sense of belonging, support, and understanding. Sharing experiences and resources can foster personal growth and collective empowerment. Heartstone Guidance Center aspires to be a vital part of the neurodivergent community, supporting and advocating for community members on both the individual and societal levels.

e. Unlearning and Educating: Encouraging society to unlearn harmful stereotypes and biases is essential. Education and awareness about neurodiversity can pave the way for a more inclusive and accepting society.

The deconstruction and reconstruction of the neurodivergent self is a transformative journey toward self-discovery, self-acceptance, and empowerment. By challenging false self-constructs and neurotypical norms imposed by societal institutions and members of our society, neurodivergent individuals can reclaim their authentic identities, celebrate their unique strengths, and enjoy a more inclusive world. Embracing neurodiversity requires dismantling oppressive norms and promoting environments that value and support the diverse cognitive experiences of all individuals.

Our therapists at Heartstone Guidance Center have been honored to share the journeys of many neurodivergent community members. We specialize in helping people deconstruct and reclaim their authentic neurodivergent selves.

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