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Not Defective: Ending the Stigma of Neurodiversity

Krystal Revai Sodaitis, MD writes about Dr. Jeffrey Singer, and his transition from clinical medicine to health policy.

July 4, 2024

When it comes to neurodivergent behavior, such as ADHD and autism spectrum disorders, there is often a stigma attached to seeking diagnosis and help from physicians.

This stigma may lead to reluctance to seek help, as individuals fear being judged or labeled “defective”.

Many believe these conditions are not illnesses or disorders but simply different ways of being human.

 

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It is important to recognize that neurodiversity is a normal part of human diversity.

Just as we accept different ethnicities, sexes, and sexual preferences, we should also accept and embrace individuals whose brains have different strengths and weaknesses.

Neuro-developmental differences are not diseases that need to be eradicated; there is no “cure” for autism or ADHD.

Unfortunately, the stigma around neurodivergent behavior often leads to a lack of documentation and diagnosis.

Many individuals may struggle with difficulty focusing or socializing but are hesitant to seek help due to fear of being labeled or judged.

This can have serious consequences, as without proper diagnosis and documentation, individuals may not receive the support and accommodations they need to thrive.

 

"Unfortunately, the stigma around neurodivergent behavior often leads to a lack of documentation and diagnosis."
Krystal Revai Sodaitis, MD, MPH, CHIE
doctorsonsocialmedia.com

 

While self-diagnosis and non-pharmacological management do have a place, depending on the diagnosis, it also could put a physician's health and well-being at risk.

Doctors need to seek the expertise of clinically trained professionals who can provide specialized treatment and support, especially when their condition impacts their professional or personal lives.

By consulting with healthcare professionals, physicians with neurodivergence can receive the necessary tools and resources to better understand and cope with their condition.

Additionally, having a safe and understanding environment that allows for open discussion of challenges can help reduce the stigma and isolation often associated with these conditions.

Collaborating with medical providers can ultimately improve mental health and overall quality of life for neurodivergent physicians. Seeking medical support is not a sign of weakness but rather a proactive step towards self-care and holistic well-being.

 

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Physician colleagues play a crucial role in addressing this stigma and providing support.

Physicians should approach behavior among peers that may suggest neurodiversity with empathy and understanding rather than judgment or pathologizing.

By creating a safe and welcoming environment for individuals to seek help, physicians can help break down barriers to diagnosis and support for neurodivergent individuals.

 

Many neurodivergent physicians are hesitant to discuss their condition with human resources out of fear that it may be used against them in the future, either by their employer or in potential conflicts within the workplace.

This fear can prevent them from receiving the necessary care and accommodations needed to perform their duties effectively. As a result, these physicians risk feeling isolated and ostracized by their colleagues, further exacerbating their mental health struggles.

 

"Many neurodivergent physicians are hesitant to discuss their condition with human resources out of fear that it may be used against them in the future."
Krystal Revai Sodaitis, MD, MPH, CHIE
doctorsonsocialmedia.com

 

Physicians need to break this cycle of fear and stigma by openly discussing their neurodivergence with human resources and advocating for the support and accommodations they require.

Doing so can create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for themselves and their colleagues.

Physicians must come together to destigmatize neuro-developmental conditions and create a supportive environment for individuals to seek help.

By recognizing that all brains function differently yet normally, we can ensure that all individuals receive the support and accommodations they need to thrive.

 

Physicians play a crucial role in this process and must approach neurodivergent characteristics with empathy and understanding. Let’s work together to create a more inclusive and supportive world for all individuals, regardless of their neurodivergent behavior.

I am committed to continuing to speak out about neurodiversity and advocating for a more accepting and understanding society.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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