Rebuttal: Dr Dinesh Bhugra: My Fear Over 'neurodivergent' Tik Tok stars who make ADHD and autism seem cool

Dr. Dinesh Bhugra is an esteemed psychiatrist in the United Kingdom. This article came across my google alerts. He also ran a study to see if vitamin D and iron deficiency were autism related. This has been disproven many times over. He also wrote an article saying that Hollywood films are excellent teaching tools when it comes to how autistic people are. Hollywood does a poor job at portraying autistic people, Sia proved that one to the world. 

This article I read through, admittedly I do not watch autistic TikTok. TikTok is new to me as I was born as the oldest year you can be a millennial. I am more comfortable with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Trivializing Strangers Struggles 

He opens the article, trivializing struggles that most autistic and ADHD AFAB people deal with in every day life. He starts to describe eating too much chocolate, struggles with focuses and spending a small fortune on make up. He also mentions the influencer has pink hair. This feeds into the NCSA stereotype of the "neurodiverstiy mob." This is impulsivity and short attention span. This influencer, he does not name, thank goodness. She would not need this type of publicity. He doubts her recent diagnosis of ADHD. 

ADHD is real. I was one of the lucky ones and was diagnosed in 1988. Girls in the 80's were NOT diagnosed. A lot of AFAB go undetected until well into adulthood. This goes for autistic AFAB. I went undetected until I was 32 and Bug was diagnosed and saw similarities between me and him. I showed them my ADHD diagnosis paperwork and the rest is history. 

He said being easily distracted, hating being in busy, noisy environments, forgetting keys. Its much deeper than that. He is trivializing. If I am in an overly busy place, it feels like I travel outside my body and that I am trying to get away. Everything becomes so overwhelming, I lose control. Sensory overload is no joke. I have to set my smartphone to remind me of certain things so I don't forget. Neurodivergent people online should not feel compelled to show diagnosis paperwork. If he isn't their doctor, its non of his business. 

Issue with 'Neurodivergent'

The big issue he has is with the word neurodivergent. This term was coined by Kassiane Asasumasu to address the issue with the word neurodiversity. This is because the word neurodiversity doesn't describe individuals within neurodiversity very well. Neurodivergence comes from neuro (pertaining to the nervous system) and divergence (the processes or state of things becoming different). Neurodivergence means the state of having a brain, nervous system, or both that operates different than the norm. The term neurotypical is used to describe the typical. Had Dr. Bhugra done his research, he would have known this. This isn't a fashionable label, like he claims it to be. 

He said that they are changing their behaviors to live up to the label. That does not even deserve a response. 

The Infinity

He has an issue with the infinity is that the autistic community has a symbol. What he fails to know is that non autistic people picked a symbol for us, the puzzle piece. Why shouldn't the people who are actually effected be able to pick out our own symbol? Logical, one would think. 

Being Dismissed by Medical Professionals

There is a lot of stigma showing that autism is a boy/man disability. Girls/women/afab mask extremely well, this isn't always the case but most of the time it is. Autism presents itself differently.  There was a study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders called "The Experiences of Late Diagnosed Women with Autism Spectrum Condition: An investigation of the Female Autism Phenotype"
The study showed anxiety and depression in addition to being autistic. This is due to people not believing afab people who were not being taken seriously after a professional diagnosis. 

Claiming to Know What Meds They Take

He says that "claiming to have psychiatric or behavioral disorder has serious ramifications." Autism and ADHD are not behavioral, they are neurological. Lets get that out of the way. Just because signs can be seen through behavior, does not mean its behavioral. He says the wrong diagnosis can exacerbate symptoms. He isn't wrong there. If a non ADHD person takes stimulants, it can have the opposite effects then intended. Does he really have that little faith in the clinicians that diagnosed them? How can they get the meds if they are not prescribed?

"I can't claim to have a complete picture of any of the neurodivergent influencers." If that's the case, why write this?

Issue with Disabled "Influencers"

He is concerned that other young people will view their "normal behaviors" as "abnormal." Autism and ADHD has gone undetected in my generation much too often. People are often realizing that they are different and getting answers. It seems like he is against disabled people who found how why they are the way they are being empowered scares him. 

He has no idea if they go to specialists for this, but claims they do not. He has no clue. He is now blaming this on the COVID 19 lockdown. 

Claims Neurodivergence is Underlying stress

Again, he does not know what diagnosis we have. "But what we need to do is recognize, and possibly treat the underlying distress so many of them are feeling- the distress that makes them genuinely believe they have a medical condition. Then, finally, perhaps they can work out who they really are."

This doctor is convinced all these people have diagnosed themselves with videos they see online. This has happened in physical medicine when people google symptoms and think they are dying. It is their job to know the difference. 

It seems impossible for him to believe that neurological conditions went undetected in the 80's and 90's which is known fact that it has. There have been numerous studies showing how to identify autism in adults. Why would that be if it weren't true?

Sources:

https://danialexis.net/2020/01/09/what-is-neurodivergence/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5040731/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-9632209/DR-DINESH-BHUGRA-fear-neurodivergent-TikTok-stars.html

https://journals.lww.com/tnpj/Citation/2018/09000/Identifying_autism_spectrum_disorder_in.3.aspx


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