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AUDIBLE EDITOR'S PICK
A paradigm-shifting study of neurodivergent women—those with ADHD, autism, synesthesia, high sensitivity, and sensory processing disorder—exploring why these traits are overlooked in women and how society benefits from allowing their unique strengths to flourish.
As a successful Harvard and Berkeley-educated writer, entrepreneur, and devoted mother, Jenara Nerenberg was shocked to discover that her “symptoms”--only ever labeled as anxiety-- were considered autistic and ADHD. Being a journalist, she dove into the research and uncovered neurodiversity—a framework that moves away from pathologizing “abnormal” versus “normal” brains and instead recognizes the vast diversity of our mental makeups.
When it comes to women, sensory processing differences are often overlooked, masked, or mistaken for something else entirely. Between a flawed system that focuses on diagnosing younger, male populations, and the fact that girls are conditioned from a young age to blend in and conform to gender expectations, women often don’t learn about their neurological differences until they are adults, if at all. As a result, potentially millions live with undiagnosed or misdiagnosed neurodivergences, and the misidentification leads to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and shame. Meanwhile, we all miss out on the gifts their neurodivergent minds have to offer.
Divergent Mind is a long-overdue, much-needed answer for women who have a deep sense that they are “different.” Sharing real stories from women with high sensitivity, ADHD, autism, misophonia, dyslexia, SPD and more, Nerenberg explores how these brain variances present differently in women and dispels widely-held misconceptions (for example, it’s not that autistic people lack sensitivity and empathy, they have an overwhelming excess of it).
Nerenberg also offers us a path forward, describing practical changes in how we communicate, how we design our surroundings, and how we can better support divergent minds. When we allow our wide variety of brain makeups to flourish, we create a better tomorrow for us all.
JENARA NERENBERG lectures widely on neuroscience, innovation, sensitivity, leadership, and diversity. Selected as a “brave new idea” presenter by the Aspen Institute for her work on re-framing mental differences, Jenara is also the founder and host of The Neurodiversity Project. She holds degrees from the Harvard School of Public Health and UC Berkeley. Her work has been published in Fast Company, New York magazine, Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution, Garrison Institute, Elaine Aron’s HSP, Healthline, KQED, and elsewhere. In addition to her work as a journalist, Jenara is a frequent workshop facilitator, speaker, and event host for institutions including the Stanford Graduate School of Business and elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.