Neurodivergent People and the Law

 Today we will look at how neurodivergent people come in contact with the legal systems in America. In this country individuals may engage with the civil or criminal courts, or both.  

Neurodivergent people are more likely to be disabled – either visibly or invisibly – as compared to the general population.  People with disabilities often seek legal assistance or protection.  That is usually a civil matter. Examples may include:
  • Getting a child evaluated for developmental disabilities, so that they can get services and supports in school.
  • Once a student is evaluated and a plan in in place some school parents and school districts are unable to agree on the services needed or provided.  In such cases parents may turn to attorneys for help.
  • Adults who cannot access things or places may turn to government agencies and attorneys to interpret or enforce laws like the ADA.
  • Adults may seek legal assistance with workplace accommodations or with workplace issues.
  • Parents may seek guardianship for disabled children.  Disabled people may challenge others’ guardianship over them.  

Neurodivergent people are likely to act different from the average person particularly in stressful circumstances.  This may be because they perceive situations differently, or because they respond differently, or because they don’t pick up messages that others receive, and therefore don’t respond at all.
  • ND people are more likely to have trouble with police and first responders, by not answering questions, not answering as expected, or responding differently to being touched.
  • ND people are more likely to be isolated, and may be more vulnerable to adopting fringe ideologies that can lead to societal conflicts.
  • ND people are more likely to be poor and socially isolated.  This translates to a lack of community support and greater vulnerability to interactions with law enforcement.
  • Being neurodivergent magnifies an individual’s chances of mistreatment, particularly for members of marginalized groups.

Society has a duty to protect its members.  However not everyone wants or needs the protection.  Sometimes protecting us from one thing subjects us to harm from another.  That makes for a difficult ethical landscape.   

Some of the problems encountered by ND people can be resolved with the help of attorneys.  Other problems are addressed by local courts.  When a court decision seems unjust it may be reviewed by the Supreme Court, and our interpretation of the law may change.  Elected officials may change or establish laws and regulations. 

When laws and regulations change and evolve they affect all of us.   


Popular Posts