Discovering your neurodiverse identity and personality
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
One of the more controversial topics in the neurodivergent community revolves around the validity of self-diagnosis. Autistics and ADHDers are proudly sharing aspects of their daily lives, struggles, and inner workings of their brains in a way that we as a society have never been privy to. It's making a lot of people think - hey, this sounds like me!
There are benefits to getting a formal diagnosis if you suspect you need to request accommodations at school or work, need to access governmental programs, or feel that diagnosis would be a validating experience for you. However, there can be a lot of barriers to diagnosis - not having an understanding doctor, not having access to psychiatrists or psychologists in your area who are skilled in autism and ADHD assessments, or fear of being labelled.
Self-diagnosis or self-identification is the alternative to this. If it wouldn't necessarily benefit you to go through the assessment process, there is validity in self-identifying as neurodivergent if you know you are. Remember - all those people who went through the formal process of assessment too, at some point, had that same thought of "Maybe this is me", or had a parent or teacher think this about them. You are allowed to be curious about your own brain and no one will ever know you as well as you know yourself.
An additional way to get to know yourself and the way your brain works is to try out personality testing. Although the Big Five Inventory (BFI-2) is, I believe, the only psychological personality inventory that has been validated in neurodivergent populations, other more accessible personality tests may provide you with some guidance as you develop your identity, whether you identify as neurodivergent or not.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI):
This widely-used personality test gives you a 4 letter code based on the combination of where you fall on 4 different scales:
Extroversion (E) - Introversion (I)
Sensing (S) - Intuition (N)
Thinking (T) - Feeling (F)
Judging (J) - Perceiving (P)
There's some thought that Autistics tend to fall into the Introverted typologies, with INTJ being particularly suspected to overlap with neurodivergence, but again, as far as I can find, not a lot of actual research done on this.
If you're curious, you can find a free online version here: Free MBTI Personality Test & 16 Myers-Briggs Types Functions (mbtitest.com) or, if you'd like a more formal evaluation - reach out to me. I'm certified to administer and interpret the psychometric MBTI, which gives you a far more detailed and personalized report compared to the free online version.
Enneagram is a Latin term meeting "figure of 9", and it's organized into 9 personality types that are based on your internal thoughts and motivations, not necessarily on outward behaviours. The best way to identify your enneagram type is to do a lot of studying on the different types and identify the type that resonates most with you. You can also work with an Enneagram coach if you need some guidance in figuring out your type. Many coaches will do online consultations.
Truity has a basic, free Enneagram test which can give you some direction in discovering your type: The Enneagram Personality Test (truity.com)
The Enneagram has additional facets that can add on degrees of complexity to typing, including wings and subtypes. Experts in the Enneagram will often say there's always more to learn about the Enneagram!
A great place to start in considering your Enneagram type as a neurodivergent person is to watch this recording of a 2020 panel discussion organized by Taylor University's Students for Education on Neurodiversity (SEND) group: The Enneagram and Neurodiversity — Sarah Duet