The term ‘neurodiversity’ is one that’s fairly new – and as such, perhaps one that’s not all that commonly used in the wider world. Essentially, it’s a word that sums up a certain point of view; the fact that the different ways our brains work and the variety of ways we view the world is normal. In short, neurodiversity is a part of life. In fact, it’s a very big part of life if you, or someone you know attend The Donaldson Trust.
That’s why we thought it would be useful to write this blog and outline some advice and guidance on the subject.
Many with additional learning challenges can have feelings of acute anxiety. Some things that could cause that might be; a change in routine, uncertainty about the future or concern over others’ wellbeing.
Professor Amanda Kirby likes to think of anxiety as a bucket. Something with a defined capacity. “If our bucket becomes too full and overflows, we then feel overwhelmed. In normal circumstances, we would find ways of coping by reducing the level in the bucket,” she explains. But what can we do about it? One memorable way to try and curb these feelings, as outlined by Professor Kirby, is ‘FACE’:
Focus on what you can control. Do remember that we can’t control everything, of course.
Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings and allow yourself to recognise when you feel anxious.
Come back into your body by taking some slow and deep breaths, standing up, pressing your feet to the floor, placing your hands on a chair or shrugging your shoulders.
Engage in what you’re doing.
Having a set structure to the day can be especially helpful for those with young children. A structure could include regular mealtimes, planned activities and even chores! As Professor Kirby points out, creating a list of chores and appropriate rewards can help children actively decide on how they engage in day-to-day life. Not to mention the opportunity to participate (and lend a helpful hand!) around the household. You could perhaps dedicate part of the day towards discussing worries – simply talking about concerns can make things easier sometimes.
Many parents of neurodivergent children are understandably clued up on developmental milestones. These are progress points based on normative data that give a rough idea of what abilities their child ‘should’ have in their repertoire at a given point in time. Our tip here is to remember that every child is different. It’s very easy to become concerned about developmental milestones that haven’t appeared at the ‘right’ time – but it’s important to be patient and understand that each individual child moves at their own pace.
It’s not only fairer to cultivate and encourage an inclusive environment – be it at the workplace, school, the home or anywhere else – it’s beneficial too. Different points of view make for a more rounded outlook and way of doing things. Simply being aware of neurodiversity and what it means not only helps neurodivergent individuals, it helps the collective. So how can you be inclusive? Use positive inclusive language, raise awareness amongst others in the community and recognise and account for the challenges that neurodivergent individuals might encounter in day-to-day life.
By reading this article you’re already doing your bit in normalising neurodiversity. If you’d like to know more about the subject and what we do here at The Donaldson Trust you might like to explore our other blog articles