Neurodiversity is a term that is banded around quite often in modern Britain for multiple reasons, some good, some bad. But do you know what it actually means?
According to Harvard Health Publishing, neurodiversity is the way in which people react to the world around them in different ways. It can be seen as the acceptance of different ways of thinking and the suggestion that there is no real ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to think or act to certain situations.
The word is now more commonly used in the context of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is estimated that 1 in 100 children in the UK have been diagnosed with ASD, though some families that have children with ASD face undeniable challenges, it should be also celebrated as a unique and wonderful way of thinking. There are many influential people who have ASD and have achieved some amazing things with their different, but inspiring, way of thinking.
What are traits of ASD in children?
According to the NHS there are multiple signs that could suggest that children have ASD, for young children it is as follows:
• not responding to their name
• avoiding eye contact
• not smiling when you smile at them
• getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell or sound
• repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, flicking their fingers or rocking their body
• not talking as much as other children
• repeating the same phrases
For older children it is:
• not seeming to understand what others are thinking or feeling
• finding it hard to say how they feel
• liking a strict daily routine and getting very upset if it changes
• having a very keen interest in certain subjects or activities
• getting very upset if you ask them to do something
• finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on their own
• taking things very literally – for example, they may not understand phrases like “break a leg”
If you are concerned about your child having autism, assessments can be done if you feel they are necessary or if you feel you need support.
Getting assessments through school services are notoriously difficult because of the amount of people who are requesting it, but there are services available that can provide these assessments.
The challenges of living with ASD
Unfortunately for those living with ASD, there are a few challenges that have been reported. For example, some who are living with ASD have reported that they have struggled with social situations which others may find ‘normal’ and easy, people have reported that they are not sure of people’s emotions and struggle to know what people are thinking, others have said they don’t know how to react when people certain things to them, and some just don’t feel as if they fit in.
All of these challenges are said to be very frustrating for some and some have even gone as far as finding coping mechanisms for everyday situations.
But… some just embrace the beauty of thinking differently.
The beauty of thinking differently
Some of the most influential figures on earth have either previously been diagnosed with ASD or have recently been deemed to have had it in their lifetime. People like Albert Einstein and Emily Dickinson were both on the autistic spectrum.
Without people thinking differently, some of the human race’s greatest achievements would never have been achieved. ASD is not something to be shunned or abused but rather more, it needs to be embraced.
For those who need help with ASD
The range of people on the autistic spectrum is huge. There are people deemed to have a ‘mild’ diagnosis of ASD to those who have severe autism, who find it extremely difficult to function in social situations, in work places, in education or outside of their own homes.
For those who are in need of specialist help, there are some great services that help those with ASD, there are teaching assistants that help in classes, there are children’s charities that help to support organisations who support those with learning difficulties and there are groups in most communities that can offer support, help and guidance on living with or caring for those with ASD.
Some charities, if needed, also offer access to free mental health services that can be tailored to discussing children’s concerns with ASD and other mental health issues they may feel they have.