As someone with Dyslexia who went to school during the 70s and 80s, I know firsthand the difficulties of slipping through the cracks. I was frequently told I was lazy and awkward, not realising that my struggles were due to my Neurodiversity.
Because what I could do verbally and what I could do written down didn’t match, I was told off for not having worked hard enough. Obviously, this mismatch is a classic sign of Dyslexia. I tried hard but found getting my ideas down like wading through treacle. I found spelling hard, but it was later explained away because I was at school during a progressive period when spelling rules weren’t taught. That was true, but it wasn’t the whole picture.
Sadly the reasons for my difficulties were not picked up at any point during school or during either of my university degrees. Through my own teaching knowledge and experience, this was something that I realised some time ago and then finally chose to have assessed. I am indeed quite Neurodiverse, which makes so much of my life now make more sense…
It wasn’t until later in life that I finally received a proper diagnosis and comprehended why my mind operates differently. I have Dyslexia, ADHD and ASD.
The good news is that there are now so many things we can put in place for our children or ourselves to help us with Dyslexia and navigate the World set up for Neurotypical people when we are Neurodiverse. Advancements in assistive technology and other resources have made life easier for Neurodiverse individuals like myself. I now use tools such as Grammarly and speech-to-text software to help me overcome my weaknesses, such as my poor spelling, working memory and Executive Functioning issues.
As an advocate of children with Neurodiverse needs, I firmly believe they should be provided with support and resources as soon as possible. This will enable them to learn coping strategies and avoid years of struggling in a system not set up for their unique needs.
If it is evident that a child of age 7 or 8 is having issues, we shouldn’t say, ‘Well, we’ll see; we’ll wait until they’re 11.’ No, we should be helping them straight away, putting things in place and teaching them strategies to help them cope, rather than years and years of waiting until the gap is so big and their self-confidence has just been decimated.
Is it a Superpower? The jury’s out on that one…
The concept of Neurodiversity as a superpower is liberating and empowering, allowing individuals to embrace their uniqueness. However, children may not see it in the same way, feeling overwhelmed by their challenges and not viewing their Neurodiversity positively.
We, as adults, have a level of autonomy that a child simply doesn’t have. We can choose what to do and how to do it in our lives far more than a child ever can.
Continuing to be a square peg in a round hole in an education system set up for round pegs. Being hammered 🔨 into 🕳️ 🕳️ 🕳️. For them having a brain that works differently almost certainly doesn’t feel like a superpower (yet).
A child must keep struggling to jump through the system’s hoops, even though they could jump easily if asked to do slightly different things.
So, it is essential to validate their feelings and help them find success and hope in areas where they can flourish.
I received my Neurodiversity diagnosis late in life, with my issues only being finally acknowledged at this extremely late point. I am still emotionally coming to terms with all that I missed out on and how hard studying at school, university, and various worlds of work was for me.
- To know that it shouldn’t have been nearly that hard.
- To know that I shouldn’t have felt so awful and so anxious for decades.
This is difficult to come to terms with…I am in therapy…and working through the emotions…
But by embracing my own Neurodiversity, I have been able to achieve greater success and be true to myself. I am now my own boss, free to pursue my brilliant, albeit unusual, ideas in a way that suits me best. I hope that children with Neurodiversity will find success and fulfilment in their own unique way, just like I have (albeit eventually.)
If you’re a parent, teacher, or caregiver of a Neurodiverse child, take action now and help them get the support and resources they need to thrive. Get involved with local Neurodiversity organisations, attend workshops, and learn more about how you can make a difference in the life of a neurodiverse child. Your support could change their future for the better!