Let’s stop with the negative labels
Neurodivergent people are not rude, lazy or disrespectful but simply misunderstood. One of the big debates currently in education, is do we need the labels for children? We certainly do not need the negative derogatory labels that are used daily within some systems. We can most definitely take these labels off the jar, thank you very much. However, a diagnosis of a neurodivergent condition and sub conditions present, is a good thing.
Who is considered neurodivergent?
A person may be considered neurodivergent if they have a diagnosis of (or self identify as having) Autism, ADHD, ADD, Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD) (formerly known as Dyspraxia), Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or Tourette Syndrome. This list is not exhausted. Research has indicated for years that these conditions do not travel alone and come with friends, a person can have up to 3- 4 conditions present. It is unlikely for an individual to have one. Autonomy of identity is with the individual.
I personally have found it really supportive for my personal growth to be diagnosed with Autism and I self identify with having ADHD. Recent research suggests that around 75% of people with Autism have ADHD also. I have a sneaky suspicion that I might be dyslexic and have become increasingly aware of my high masking strategies in this area of need.
Parenting neurodivergent children is difficult because we live in a neurotypical world. Every day family life on the spectrum, when raising children, can feel like swimming in treacle. Many families I support feel under the personal attack and judgement of people that have no understanding of the challenges within their family life. The emotional pain of blame shifting and lack of awareness into masking, melt downs at home and double jeopardy is becoming increasingly problematic. I personally can relate to many of these experiences and feel super passionate about empowering parents to take their power back.
Your child is not broken, the system is. Sit tight, patriarchy is loosing it’s grip.
Although, there is a shift in the right direction, we have a massive amount of work to do! I am delighted to take up this mission and advocate to promote a neuro affirming community for everyone.
The heart sink of a parent
One of the things that can be most frustrating for parents is the constant celebration of the neurotypical children for achieving high grades, 100% attendance and a constant celebration of ability. If you are a parent and you aimlessly scroll on the school’s social media page (usually main stream) with a heavy heart knowing that your wee square peg or trailblazer will not be there … you are not alone. It is time to shift the culture of perfectionism within the education system and start acknowledging effort. What about the pupil who gave 110% and managed to attend school for 3 whole days a week? Or the child that gave everything to passing an exam with a grade C … wow! How about the camera shy student, that has not yet learned to feel safe and comfortable to be seen in the world? Who is advocating for them?
We can be the change
It is up to us as advocates to challenge with patience and compassion, encourage the adults to get curious and see the world through another lens. Ask the more meaningful questions, what is this child’s behaviour communicating to me and what are the other possibilities? A deepening of the understanding in how the Autistic mind thinks, is a wonderful adventure. One will learn that Autism burnout is a real thing. Professor Tony Attwood and Dr Michelle Garnett share 80 years between them in the clinical practice and research of Autism. Both have a wealth of knowledge and support. Autism burn out and the dangers of masking, featured as a big topic in their recent conference in London.
I believe that teachers are in a privileged position to make a difference in the future of young people, by simply being kind and empathetic. Know that the support given in schools, may be the determining factor to whether young people with ADHD continue to be over represented in the juvenile justice system. Imagine an education system that shared the same ethos and sense of love in the community of special schools. The harmony and love that permeates these educational environments is breathtaking.
Would I be going too far to call for the criminalization of detention, suspension and exclusion in schools? These imperialistic sanctions and punishments are over subscribed by children with additional needs and neurodivergence.
A word of hope for parents and carers
Your child needs one constant adult, holding unconditional love for them. It is the role of the parents to provide a safe nurturing space for the child to be themselves. Allow them to take off the mask, build the confidence to unmask (remembering that masking is harmful) and blaze the trail to create neuro affirming environments. Value what they value and give evidence of this every day! Health and wellbeing first and stay deeply connected to your child. Whatever the problem, love is the answer.
A note to educators
Ask the question, What is the most loving thing I can do as a grown up in this situation?
Let’s create a neuro affirming community for everyone to flourish
It is time to develop an appreciation that we are all wired differently, thrive in certain environments and remember that intentional consideration MUST be given to the sensory and social challenges a situation and environment might present to each unique individual.
Finally the process that changed everything for me.
It is all easier said than done when you are in the thick of the chaos but let me bring some calm to choppy waters. Unmasking with the VBIP, Value Based Integrative Process is the most therapeutic process, pioneered by Heather Morgan in Canada. This is a compassionate process to help you identify YOUR values and redirect your life and thinking, no longer a hostage to any system, I am trained in this coaching process and KNOW first hand the life changing effects it can have. If you are ready to create freedom and flourish as a family, you may request more information here
OR feel free to WhatsApp me to learn more 0044 7972 040 236
In the meantime be gentle with yourself …