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Understanding Neurodiversity

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What is Neurodiversity? It’s the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioural traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population. In other words, if you are neurodivergent your brain processes differently to what is classified as typical.

There are a range of neurodivergent conditions, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Condition/Disorder (ASD), Dyspraxia/DCD, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Tourette’s Syndrome. Each condition can often be very unique for that individual but there are common traits. It means that we process things in a different way and have to do things differently: to some this can be like a superpower! (I personally like to see it like that). That’s not to say anyone is better than anyone no matter how your brain is!

I have ADHD, Autism and Dyslexia. Often with neurodiversity you will get co-occurring conditions. ADHD is often seen as being hyperactive but that isn’t always the case, as hyperactivity can be internalised and not noticeable. You can have combined type, inattentive (previously known as ADD) and hyperactive type.

Autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication plus many more things. It is seen as a spectrum and is no longer classed as mild, severe etc. This is because symptoms can change depending on the person’s scenario and situation, such as change and stress. For example, I will be ok if things are calm and quiet but when I have had to deal with a lot of people and noise, I often go quiet, struggle to understand what people are saying to me – it’s like they are suddenly speaking a foreign language. I then start stimming by wringing my hands and biting my lip. It can take days to recover as my energy levels are depleted and can lead to a shut down or melt down. So, for socialising I need to prepare, whereas for most, it wouldn’t affect them at all. Add on outside factors such as stress which can make it even harder.

Dyslexia mainly affects the ease with which a person processes language and is typically recognised as a specific learning disorder in children. However, this can also include numbers and again there is a range as to how this can affect a person.

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Article written by Kiah Waite


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