The month of March hosts Neurodiversity Celebration Week so it seems a good time to write a blog on this subject.

I am a parent of a child who has been diagnosed as autistic. As a result I have had one experience of neurodiversity. It has shaped how we operate as a family but that is true for any family or group of people learning to co-exist in harmony.

As a term, neurodiversity can lead people to make assumptions and think of stereotypes. 

Neurodiversity, as the name states, presents in many different forms and to many varying levels of intensity. So really, as with the statement that every individual person is different and unique in their own way, it is simply that the impact of neurodiversity can be more noticeable because the differences that neurodiversity brings are often outside the experiences of neurotypicals.

Autism is one of the more publicised manifestations of neurodiversity, but it also includes ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and tourettes among others. 

As a species, we can sometimes be less understanding about other peoples differences, and we can be prone to making assumptions. What we might regard as normal, does not necessarily apply to others, but our primitive brain may often interpret “difference” as “threat”. A neurodiverse person will have a different understanding of “the world” from us perhaps, but then again, so does someone who is colour blind! 

In a society that is geared around “social norms”, all the noise and stimulus and effort to try and make sense of feelings and phrases, neurodivergent people will struggle with “conforming” and in turn struggle with anxiety, confidence, sleep and other issues of mental health.

Neurodivirsity offers challenges for those who are neurodiverse. The brain is wired a bit differently from neurotypicals. Learning to recognise the differences, accept them for what they are, and learning how best to use them is the challenge. A really important aspect is to recognise that being neurodiverse is certainly not a “disability” but is actually a strength that can be harnessed and applied and should be acknowledged as such. It shouldn’t be something to try and hide because that would be to diminish who we are. 

Solution focussed talking therapy can significantly support people to understand how their brain works. This then naturally moves to recognising that there can be more acceptance and appreciation. Helping clients to identify solutions and establishing strategies and patterns that work for them as individuals can be a real revelation. Over, time with understanding, it can become possible to reframe what were seen as issues to being positive traits and strengths. In turn, this can help individuals develop greater self confidence which is amazing.

Where appropriate, I will work with the families of neurodivergent clients too. They need support to understand that how they approach and respond to life can also have a significant impact on their own wellbeing, which in turn impacts the family as a whole.