Autism and Neurodiversity
Neurodiversity is a term first coined in the late 1990's by Judy Singer and it is estimated that around 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent. This means that more than 15% of the UK's population are neurodivergent; meaning that their brain functions, learns and processes information differently.
Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain can work and interpret information. It highlights that people naturally think about things differently. Neurodivergent people often do not process information in the same way as neurotypical people.
Judy Singer was on the autism spectrum herself and was adamant that autism was not a disability. She instead believed that it was just a different way that the brain worked and since then, the goal has been to embrace and provide support to people to accept them as part of a mainstream community.
It is important to encourage neurodivergent people that they do not necessarily have a disability, but that they simply learn and process things in a different way instead. This helps to reduce stigma and can help build confidence, improve self- esteem and increase motivation.
Types of Neurodiversity & Symptoms
There are many different types of neurodiversity, some of the common ones are listed below:
- Autism/Asperger's Syndrome - 1-2% of the UK's population are autistic. An autistic person may perceive the world and interact with others differently. Social interaction may be difficult for them due to being unable to pick up on and interpret social cues. The way in which they express their own emotions may be different as well. Change is often difficult and unwelcome as they rely on set routines and often follow instructions literally. Most autistic people often develop special interests and are hyper-fixated on these topics.
- Dyspraxia - Sometimes known as Developmental Coordination Disorder, refers to issues a person may have with physical co-ordination skills as well as organisation of thoughts. Around 5% of the UK's population are estimated to have dyspraxia. Dyspraxic people may be quite clumsy, have a speech impediment or be unable to organise efficiently and thus may also have poorer time management skills. Often times people with dyspraxia are found to be quite creative and have good literacy skills.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - People with this are often restless and may have trouble concentrating. Sypmtoms can be categorised into 2 types of behavioural problems: inattentiveness, and hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Often people with ADHD fall into both categories. This is not always the case: for example, some people with the condition may have problems with inattentiveness, but not with hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This is instead known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). ADD can sometimes go unnoticed as the symptoms may be less obvious than ADHD. Sometimes symptoms can be the opposite, for example hyperfocussing can often be linked with ADHD.
- And Many More - Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia and Tourette's syndrome are some other common examples. Like other forms of neurodivergence, these can bring strengths as well as difficulties.
It is important to encourage neurodivergent people that they do not necessarily have a disability, but that they simply learn and process things in a different way instead. This helps to reduce stigma and can help build confidence, improve self- esteem and increase motivation. Tony Attwood is regarded as one of the worlds leading experts for the autistic spectrum; he has made various talks and other resources over the years that can be used to support neurodivergent people. You can view these on his website by clicking the button below:
You can read more about Autism on the NHS' website by clicking the button below: