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Creating a Neuro-Affirming Culture:

Why "Cure" Talk is Harmful


Creating a neuro-affirming culture is crucial in classrooms and among teachers to celebrate and accommodate neurodivergent individuals.

Unfortunately, many neurodivergent individuals, including those with ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and others, face "cure" talk, where their neurodivergent traits and behaviors are seen as a problem that needs to be fixed or cured.

This kind of thinking is not only harmful but can also be downright dangerous.


Neuro-affirming culture is an important concept that refers to creating a society that values and supports neurological diversity, rather than trying to force everyone into a narrow definition of "normal."

This is particularly important when it comes to neurodivergent conditions like ADHD, autism, and dyslexia, which are often stigmatized and misunderstood.


The current scientific understanding of these conditions emphasizes the role of neurodiverse physiology, with differences in neurotransmitter levels and processing, as well as other elements of brain function that differ observably from those of a so-called neurotypical brain. These differences can result in unique perspectives, skills, and ways of processing information.


It is essential to understand that neurodiverse conditions are as heritable as height and occur across cultures.

Different cultures may take different moral or social stances on many of the behaviors associated with neurodiversity, and might not all be as punitive or shaming as the dominant culture in the U.S.

However, even in cultures where these conditions are not stigmatized, a neuro-affirming culture remains a vital aspect of creating an inclusive society.

It is important to challenge the narrative of "cure" and "normalization" of neurodivergent individuals. Rather than viewing neurodiversity as a problem to be fixed, a neuro-affirming culture recognizes and celebrates the unique strengths and perspectives that neurodivergent individuals bring to the classroom and beyond.


"Cure" talk is harmful to neurodiverse individuals and communities.

The idea of a cure implies that there is something inherently wrong with being neurodiverse, which can lead to shame, stigma, and discrimination.

Additionally, this kind of thinking can lead to harmful practices like conversion therapy, where people are forced to suppress their natural behaviors and emotions in an attempt to conform to societal norms. It also perpetuates the myth that being neurodiverse is a problem to be solved, rather than a unique aspect of human diversity to be celebrated and accommodated.


In contrast, a neuro-affirming culture recognizes that neurodivergent individuals have unique strengths and abilities that should be celebrated and accommodated. By focusing on what neurodivergent individuals can do rather than what they can't, we can create a more inclusive and diverse society that values everyone's contributions.


Creating a neuro-affirming culture involves many different aspects, including education, employment, and healthcare. For example, educational institutions can implement accommodations that help neurodivergent students learn and participate in the classroom. Employers can create work environments that are sensory-friendly and offer flexible schedules. Healthcare providers can recognize the unique needs of neurodivergent patients and provide appropriate care that takes into account their sensory sensitivities and communication differences.



Ultimately, creating a neuro-affirming culture requires a shift in the way we think about neurodivergent individuals. Instead of seeing them as a problem to be solved, we need to recognize their value and embrace their unique strengths and abilities. This not only benefits neurodivergent individuals but benefits society as a whole by fostering a more inclusive and diverse community.

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