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A New Type of Diversity: Neurodiversity in Media

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

While fairly new, neurodiversity has picked up traction within the past decade to affirm people with disorders and difficulty in social contexts, such as those with ADHD and autism (Damiano et al., 2014). With that, several media outlets have come with representations of these disorders. Most notably, Markiplier and CrankGamePlays have helped normalize ADHD on YouTube, and Sophie on Netflix’s Season 3 of Glow Up brought light to autism.

Markiplier (2017) and CrankGamePlays (2020) are both gaming YouTubers with millions of subscribers who have both brought up that they have ADHD. However, they have different approaches to bring awareness to ADHD and demonstrate success with the condition – helping normalize it. Markiplier (2017) takes an online ADHD test while CrankGamePlays (2020) has two videos testing fidget toys. Markiplier’s video demonstrates the difference, to an extent between a legitimate, hours-long ADHD battery test and a quick online test that caters more to personality (2017). Meanwhile, CrankGamePlays (2020) helps play a role in normalizing ADHD by representing and normalizing the population that plays with fidget toys. While the two do a good job of representing a successful life with ADHD, it does strike a chord with me that no female or femme-identifying YouTubers have risen to prominence with the same condition.

Glow Up’s Season 3 features a winner with self-admitted autism, with one of her signature pieces referring to a process called masking and another representing coping mechanisms for difficult situations (Ott, 2021). Like Markiplier and CrankGamePlays, she has demonstrated success by winning Season 3 and graduating an arts program shortly after (Ott, 2021).

These representations are extremely important because these conditions are lifelong and affect one’s day-to-day life (CrankGamePlays, 2020; Ott, 2021). While they normalize these conditions and help people “understand themselves a bit better” (Ott, 2021), these portrayals on media demonstrate a troubling gender gap between the two disorders that tends to mimic real life. They aren’t perfect, no, but they demonstrate success and a sense of normalization of these conditions that people deserve to see, and they have an overall positive impact.

References

Damiano, C. R., Mazefsky, C. A., White, S. W., & Dichter, G. S. (2014). Future directions for research in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology43(5), 828-843. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4163956/

Fishbach, M. [Markiplier]. (2017, July 5). I take an ADHD test [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2oIoL9Va8E

Nestor, E. [CrankGamePlays]. (2020, July 20). I bought a box of fidget toys to cure my ADHD [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLLlyKdyeks Ott, V. (2021, August 16). Glow Up: What season 3 winner Sophie has been up to after the show. Screen Rant. https://screenrant.com/glow-up-season-3-winner-sophie-baverstock-update/

Hi, I'm Kylie! I am currently a Psychology major at the University of North Texas. In my downtime, I enjoy many artsy things, so that's what most of my writing will be about.
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