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Neurodiversity

A diagonal pattern of small pink brains representing neurodiversity

The 18th-24th March is currently neurodiversity celebration week and this is such a hot topic right now. It is also certainly one that we find ourselves having many conversations about with parents and families.

One of the things that makes Learn Happy so special is that we know all children have unique learning skills sets. This is so important in enabling each child to develop a strong growth mindset and achieve their best. That is why neurodiversity is such an important area to be considered when we think about our learners and how best we plan for and support them. One size does definitely not fit all!

What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is the term used for people whose brains simply work differently from the majority of people. Neurodiversity is about recognising that there are differences in how all our brains work and that there isn’t a set or correct way. Neurodivergence doesn’t always equal learning difficulties. In terms of learning, understanding neurodiversity is key to ensuring that we stay focused on supporting the learner’s skill set rather than trying to fit them into a standard model.

When do we use the term neurodiversity?

A person would be thought of as being neurodiverse if they have been diagnosed with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder including Aspergers Syndrome), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyslexia, dyspraxia or Tourettes.

At this point it might be helpful to give some brief definitions of these conditions. These definitions are very black and white but are helpful in giving clarity on the different areas of neurodiversity. Each condition is accompanied by a myth we love to bust!

ASD

ASD is defined as a condition that affects how a person interacts and communicates with others, thinks and learns. We prefer to ditch the ‘D’ in ASD as it isn’t a disorder. A myth we love to bust: People with ASD cannot feel empathy and compassion – many can!

ADHD

ADHD is defined as a condition that affects a person’s ability to focus and concentrate, impacting on organisation skills and/or learning. They may have a greater need for movement and increased impulsivity in their decision making. We prefer to ditch the ‘D’ in ASHD as it isn’t a disorder. A myth we love to bust: People with ADHD are not incapable of sitting still.

Dyslexia

A person diagnosed with dyslexia will have difficulties with reading, writing and spelling but can also experience difficulty with organising and sequencing both in terms of dates and information but also in a practical sense. A myth we love to bust: Dyslexic people have a low IQ – simply not true and they often have a strong EQ!

Dyscalculia

This is when a person will experience difficulties with number concepts and calculations. A myth we love to bust: dyscalculia isn’t as common as dyslexia. It is thought it is just as common.

Dyspraxia

A person with dyspraxia will have difficulties in motor planning and coordination. They may struggle with balance and their special awareness. A myth we love to bust: ‘It’s just clumsiness’.

Tourettes

This is where the person will make involuntary sounds and movements ( tics). It usually begins during childhood. Tics can change and evolve and also go away over time. A myth we love to bust: Everyone with tourettes blurts out obscenities – this only affects 1 in 10 people with Tourette’s syndrome.

These definitions show clearly that neurodiversity is indeed a complex area and for many people there will be overlap between conditions. However, it is really important to recognise that even if a person has been diagnosed as neurodiverse, that they are not simply that diagnosis/definition. It is vital that we think of the person in terms of their own individual areas of strength and need.

At Learn Happy we spend time getting to know our learners and their unique strength and need profiles so that we can ensure that we plan to be as inclusive as possible. Our small group sessions enable children with a variety of learning styles to work together where we celebrate the different approaches and build strength and resilience.

We work with learners who have both received a diagnosis or are waiting for one and pride ourselves on being able to support families through this process.

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