We all remember March 2020, when our world changed in a matter of days. We had to relearn new ways of living much more quickly than our brains would have liked. Some people noticed that their brains were not adapting quite like everyone else’s. The sudden and drastic changes brought about by the global pandemic had a profound impact on individuals, both physically and mentally. As we faced unprecedented challenges, our brains were forced to adapt to a new reality that none of us could have prepared for.

For some, this process of adaptation was relatively smooth, as they quickly adjusted their routines and embraced the new normal. However, others found themselves struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of change. They noticed that their brains seemed to be functioning differently compared to the majority of people around them. These individuals experienced difficulties in grasping and incorporating the new information and guidelines that were constantly being introduced. They often felt overwhelmed and mentally exhausted, as their brains struggled to keep up with the constant stream of updates and changes in daily life.

It is important to understand that each person’s brain is unique, and we all have different capacities for adapting to change. Factors such as pre-existing mental health conditions, personal circumstances, and individual coping mechanisms can greatly influence how our brains respond to challenging situations.

The Pandemic’s Impact on Neurodiversity Diagnosis

 Billy Roberts, LISW-S, is a licensed therapist who owns a private practice that focuses exclusively on adults with ADHD. He points out that because of the pandemic, “Many undiagnosed folks are connecting the dots for the first time,” noting that he has seen an increase in outreach from many neurodivergent folks, including individuals with ADHD and autism: “The pandemic created new organizational, emotional, and social demands on all people, which tends to highlight the challenges in both populations.” Roberts felt the pandemic left many feeling like their coping skills were ineffective and caused them to reach out for support.

person wearing a medical face mask looking through window bars

Because of quarantine, many of our support systems, such as therapy, moved to the virtual world. This flexibility led to more people learning about their neurodiversity. Sharon O’Connor, LCSW, is an autistic psychotherapist who specializes in neurodiversity and anxiety. She believes the increase in telehealth has made therapy more accessible to neurodivergent folks. She says, “The ability to meet with a therapist remotely eliminates the barrier and stressor of traveling to an office. It also widens the network of accessible providers, as one is no longer limited to a therapist in their immediate geographic area,” she adds. “ Telehealth presents a new opportunity to choose from therapists anywhere in your state, which can increase the chances of finding a provider who meets your needs.”

Two people talking in chairs facing each other, one is taking notes

Understanding the Advantages of Neurodiversity

There has also been a recent movement to understand that there are plenty of upsides to brains working differently in the context of the pandemic. As highlighted in an article by Verywell Mind, neurodivergent individuals have exhibited a range of benefits during these challenging times. Specifically, they have shown remarkable creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation in the face of adversity.

Many people who think differently from the majority are good at paying close attention to details and can focus intensely. Due to these abilities, they have found it beneficial to work remotely. It has been noticed that they often perform better from home compared to people who think in more typical ways. They are able to make the most of their unique strengths in a home-based setting.

chalkboard sketch of "my adhd mind"

The pandemic has shed light on the valuable contributions that neurodivergent individuals can make to various fields and industries. Their unique perspectives and abilities have the potential to drive remarkable advancements in creativity, problem-solving, and productivity. Ultimately, embracing neurodiversity can lead to a more inclusive and dynamic society, where everyone’s contributions are recognized and celebrated.

If you feel like you could use some extra support or coping skills, reach out to one of our therapists at Heartland Therapy Connection. You can call or text us at 816-287-0252. Or email us through our website.

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