We all are different in terms of everything. So, how can someone be similar in their cognitive functions? Neurodiversity is considered abnormal everywhere and has mostly been treated as a problem to be solved. Although, mental health professionals are trying to build an inclusive model which not only addresses the issues of children but also focuses on the unique capabilities that come with it. They must receive the support they need and deserve to live their life fruitfully.
Recognize Neurodivergence in children
The term originally was coined by Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist in 1998. She stressed that everyone is different and so does their mental functioning. Neurodivergence refers to people who function differently in terms of brain functioning to atypical children, who function according to their age. It simply means that children who are neurodivergent have different abilities and challenges.
Following are the conditions that are mostly common among neurodivergent children:-
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Down syndrome
- Dyscalculia(difficulty with maths)
- Dysgraphia( difficulty with writing)
- Dyslexia( difficulty with reading)
- Dyspraxia( difficulty with coordination)
- Intellectual disabilities
- Mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more.
- Tourette syndrome
Signs in Neurodiverse Children
There are many types of characteristics that children with neurodiversity show mentioned below:-
- Children show no pointing or babbling by the age of 1 year
- They have poor eye contact
- No one words by the age of 16 months
- No two-word phrases by age 2 years
- No smiles or responsiveness
- Limited interests
- Repetitive behaviour
In adults, the following are the signs which include:
- Lack of social interaction
- Difficulty in communication
- Lack of social interaction
- Repetitive language
- focused interest
- Fixed timetable
- Inability to maintain eye contact
Exceptional Abilities in Neurodiverse Children
Children with neurodiversity face many challenges in their lives because of different levels of brain functioning. However, they are born with exceptional abilities in some domains, which are mentioned below:-
- Extraordinary memory
- Attention to detail
- Willingness to try new things
- Visual strengths
Supportive Parenting Strategies for Neurodivergent Kids
Raising a kid is a very responsibility, and this responsibility doubles when one has a neurodivergent kid. They need special attention because their abilities are different and they require a different treatment. There is not one success strategy but parents have to employ several strategies while keeping many things in mind:-
- Adjusting one’s Expectations: it has been seen that many parents disregard their children because of their different abilities and vent their frustration out on them. For example: In the movie “Taren Zameen par.” It is important to keep in mind that these kinds of expectations and behavior are not right and one should always be conscious about their kid’s feelings.
- Seeking community help: children who have neurodiversity will grow in adults with the same level of difficulties. So, parents should seek help from communities of adults who have the same problem, so that they can understand their child’s needs and expectations.
- Professional help: It is always better to seek help from a professional. They can help you understand the different abilities of your child and can also provide you with a plan to follow so, that your children can live as normally as they can.
- Seeking help from teachers: communicating with your kids’ teacher is a great way to help your child. You can tell them more thoroughly about your child’s needs, interests, likes, dislikes, learning patterns, etc
- Inclusive learning: As we know every child has different needs. It is very important to cater to individual needs and accordingly, design study plans, using tech aids and different methods for teaching rather than the traditional ones which are used for everyone.
- Teaching children: It is perhaps, the most important strategy parents can employ. If they teach their children about their uniqueness in a positive and supportive way, children will be able to operate in a better way in their environment.
- Encourage peer understanding: It is very important as well to teach your friends, colleagues, and society overall about neurodiversity and its challenges so that everyone can build a required support system.
- Nurturing individual strengths: children with neurodiversity often have different kinds of interests and abilities. It is very important to appreciate them, encourage them in their talents, and help them feel good about themselves by building a positive self-image and feeling accomplished.
Flouring together: Educating, advocating and Buiding Strong Neurodivergent Families
Diversity is seen everywhere. What is important is to appreciate it. All of us can give our support to neurodivergent families, so they can bring up their child with less difficulty. A minimum amount of support goes a long way. Let us see, what we can do together to build a community that is not only inclusive but also helps in the growth of these families.
The following points should be kept in mind:-
- Understanding neurodiversity: The foremost step is to understand neurodiversity. Before doing anything, it’s important to understand what we are dealing with and what the right way of doing it is. After that accepting the differences and living collaboratively should be the idea. Valuing differences and showing acceptance is the key.
- Taking personal responsibility: it’s very important to be aware of the language that we use while communicating with children, showing them respect, challenging attitudes that are unhelpful, avoiding assumptions about their situations, etc.
- How schools can embrace neurodiversity: Changes to the environment for children with sensory sensitivities or high anxiety levels, using diverse teaching methods to suit diverse learning styles or needs.
- Building trust: Trust is a very important component of any relationship. It forms the foundation of safety and security, allowing children to feel comfortable being themselves.
- Being Inclusive: It is of utmost importance to make neurodivergent adults feel welcomed in a professional setting. These adults can have difficulty communicating with their colleagues, so, a system must be made where they they can express themselves without any hesitation or guilt. It is also important to make them feel part of a group with similar power to make a choice.
- Thoughtful Feedback: it becomes very necessary for teachers, officials, society, and parents when providing feedback to be generous kind, and not harsh. Feedback should be such that it helps them understand rather than feel devalued or rejected. It can have an impact on their emotional health.
Read More: 10 Helpful ways to motivate your Child
- Making kids feel belong: Belonging goes one step further from inclusion by ensuring people feel valued and fully a part of their community. It’s important to understand the needs of neurodivergent individuals and make them feel like a part of society. Creating a space, where they can identify themselves.
- Committing to wholeness: An inclusive community values all people, and becomes whole by embracing its diversity and making everyone feel like they belong. A major role is played by schools, offices, and society as a whole to create a collaborative and uplifting environment.
In conclusion, it can be said that neurodiversity is not something to be ashamed of. No kid is similar and there is no right or wrong way of learning, thinking, feeling, or doing something. The core idea should always be to make children feel welcomed, appreciated, respected, and valued for who they are instead of criticizing them for what they are not. We all are different and this difference should be embraced and celebrated with an open heart.
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