The Pros and Cons of Neurodivergent TikTok

By Dr Alice Siberry

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media app dedicated to video-sharing that allows users to create and share short-form videos on any topic. Much like the growth of Facebook and Twitter, most major companies and news outlets now use TikTok to share their content. Although there is an age limit of 13+ on TikTok, it has been widely recognised that children aged 13 and under are accessing content on the app. 

The Neurodivergent Side of TikTok

Neurodivergent TikTok exploded during the pandemic, with a significant amount of people creating content specifically about ADHD and Autism. Using hashtags such as #ADHD or #autism, means that people can digest content about neurodiversity via video content on the app. Often, this is neurodivergent people sharing their own experiences.

TikToks with the hashtag #ADHD have been viewed more than 11 billion times in the last year. This has led to a surge in assessments and diagnoses across the world (mainly in the USA, the UK and Europe), particularly for over 25-year-olds.

Reportedly, there are pros and cons to Neurodivergent TikTok.


  • People from minoritized communities are sharing their experiences of diagnosis and being neurodivergent, more generally. Women and girls in particular are benefiting from seeing other neurodivergent women and girls on Neurodivergent TikTok. Subsequently, people are learning more about themselves and their brains.
  • Listening to someone’s experiences adds more nuance to what can often be a bleak Google search. Having an autistic person describe their experiences of being autistic might enable someone to identify their own strengths and challenges, in a way that the DSM-5 cannot.
  • Autistic and ADHD people are sharing their favourite adjustments, accommodations, and stimming behaviours / equipment on Neurodivergent TikTok, which not only helps other neurodivergent people (especially recently diagnosed), but also neurotypical people.
  • Arguably, much like other online spaces, Neurodivergent TikTok appears to be creating a semblance of community and safe space for neurodivergent people to explore their identities.


  • Although there are a team who quality check TikToks, there are concerns that Content Creators or Influencers (people who make TikTok content for a living) are being confused with ‘Experts’ on neurodivergence. This means that the content being shared might not be accurate or even harmful. One study found that 52% of videos analysed under the ADHD hashtag contained misinformation (Yeung et al, 2022). This is particularly concerning for people who choose to self-diagnose or refer themselves for diagnosis only to find they have been provided wrong information.
  • Children and young people may be influenced by what they are viewing and start to copy behaviours. Only last year, there were concerns about TikTok causing tics in teenage girls. Neurologists commented that brains (particularly young, adaptable brains) are susceptible to mimicry. This means that the brain can copy observable behaviour often without conscious thought. Though arguably there is nothing ‘wrong’ with being neurodivergent, seeing an influx in these behaviours leads to ‘epidemic’ type conversations, particularly in medical communities.
  • Content can sometimes make light of the condition or encourage others to do so. People might get lots of recommended neurodivergent content on their TikTok page, which might lead them to joke “My TikTok thinks I have ADHD / I am Autistic!” This might continue to perpetuate negative narratives, that to be ADHD or Autistic is a bad thing.
  • TikTok trends tend to come and go, neurodivergence is for life. Neurodivergent TikTok may go just as quickly as it came about, leaving people feeling lost and confused about their identities.

Is Neurodivergent TikTok contributing to the conversation that Autism / ADHD is ‘trendy’?

Absolutely, yes. We will undoubtedly hear more and more comments about this.

In January / February 2023, a number of articles have been written about how ADHD is being ‘overdiagnosed’. Another wrote about how ADHD is the latest ‘must-have’ condition. The increase of content being created on TikTok is only going to contribute to these ongoing perspectives. One article written by a doctor claimed that ‘neurodiversity’ is simply a ‘buzzword’. Although this does not align with our perspectives, this doctor goes onto negatively frame that “being neurodivergent gives young people an edge, a way to stand out from the crowd, a badge of honour”.

It should be noted that conversations about Autism and ADHD being ‘trendy’ are not new, with research from back in 2004 discussing whether ADHD was just a ‘trendy’ condition. In my own research, conducted between 2017 – 2018, practitioners would often suggest that ‘Autism’ was simply the ‘latest trendy condition’ (Siberry, 2021).

When considering how to respond to questions about the TikTok generation, the general consensus seems to fall towards the ‘pros’. So long as people aren’t using a 60-second video as an official diagnosis, it’s not right to gatekeep this knowledge. People should be allowed to share their experiences. Instead, we should be advocating that companies like TikTok create better systems of ‘fact-checking’ content, to ensure that only accurate, and pro-diversity, information is being shared online.

Dr Alice Siberry works at Creased Puddle as a Specialist Neurodiversity Criminal Justice Consultant and holds a First-Class Honours (BA Hons) degree in Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring and an MSc Psychology degree.

To find out more about Alice and the other members of the team visit – Team – Creased Puddle