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Giftedness and the neurodiversity umbrella

Today, I want to share this simple but important reminder with you. Something that I remind myself of frequently as well, especially whenever I feel like I am 'bragging' when I refer to myself as gifted, or whenever I feel like I am exaggerating when I point out that gifted people have special needs too.

Because yes, these are thoughts and feelings that also creep up on me from time to time. Outside of my coaching bubble, I still hate talking about giftedness because of all the attached stigma and the fear that others will think of me as arrogant.

So here's the reminder: Giftedness is a form of neurodivergence that is part of the neurodiversity umbrella.

Colorful umbrella against the sky

The neurodiversity umbrella

If someone would tell you they have autism, ADHD, or dyslexia, you probably wouldn't hesitate to acknowledge that they deserve extra support at school, university, or at work. Right?

The same goes for us, too. We also struggle to fit into a world designed for neurotypical people. We think differently, perceive and sense differently, feel and exist differently. Not better, not worse. Just different.

And difference makes this world a more interesting place. Neurodiverse people could, and should, be appreciated for those differences. Because they can add creativity, a fresh perspective, or bring outside-the-box thinking skills to the table.

So whenever you feel overcome by imposter syndrome or fear of arrogance, whenever you struggle to call yourself gifted, try calling yourself neurodivergent first. How does that feel? Does it make it easier for you to acknowledge that you deserve tailored support?

Still a long way to go...

Just over a week ago, between 18-24 March, was the Neurodiversity Celebration Week. It's an annual event, and a great initiative. They talk about "alternative thinking styles", they celebrate neurodifference, and emphasize the "strengths and talents of neurodivergent individuals". They acknowledge that the 'challenges' neurodivergent people face, have "more to do with the environment and systems they are placed in, often designed by a majority population".

Their website contains lots of resources for schools, universities, parents, and organisations. Yet when searching through their drop-down menu of types of neurodivergence, giftedness was not listed among the options. In fact, I couldn't find any reference to giftedness on their website, or in any of the events they organised as part of their Celebration Week.

This can make you feel less included in the neurodiversity family as a gifted person. Or at least, I certainly felt that way. And that's a shame. Because it's unjustified.

Even within the neurodiversity world, the prejudices that gifted people have it easy, don't need any support, or will be fine on their own, are incredibly stubborn. We still have a long way to go when it comes to undoing these falsehoods.

So that's why I just wanted to remind you that we are in fact part of the neurodiversity umbrella. We do face struggle, and we do deserve support. We shouldn't need to feel shameful about it, or afraid of being judged. Giftedness isn't about being better. It's about our brains being wired differently. And that's totally ok. More so even: it deserves to be celebrated!

So please, do me a favor, and thank your brain today :)

Cover of The Smart Rebel Podcast

Ps. Looking for some support around being gifted? Want some inspiration around how to own this part of your identity, and how to celebrate your gifts?

Then you should listen to The Smart Rebel Podcast! Each episode, I coach a gifted person around the struggles they're facing, the existential questions that haunt them, or the marvelous ambitions they have.

Want to support my work? Leave a 5-star rating! It only takes 2 seconds of your time, and will make a huge difference to helping other gifted people discover this resource.

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