Working together, improving lives

March 2024

Neurodiversity Celebration Week

Neurodiversity is a term used to describe a range of differences in individual brain function and behavioural traits, which affects how people experience and interact with the world around them in many unique ways. First coined by Australian social scientist, Judy Singer, in the late 1990’s, she asserted that these differences are nothing more than simple variations in each of us, likened to differences in eye colour, hair colour or height and that being neurodivergent does not decrease or affect cognitive ability or IQ.
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Neurodiversity in the United Kingdom

According to some studies there are approximately 1.3 million neurodivergent individuals in the UK, but many believe the figure to represent 15-20% of the general population. In the UK, recognition and acceptance of neurodiversity has been steadily growing and more recently, going through something of a boom, that is, to say more people than ever are seeking support and guidance about a range of neurodiverse conditions and diagnoses as symptom’s are being better understood and acknowledged.

As the understanding of neurodiversity deepens, it becomes apparent that embracing these differences are not just a matter of accommodation but an opportunity to acknowledge and support individuals to live better, more fulfilled and more accepting lives. As part of Neurodiversity Celebration Week, we’re going to explore some different forms of neurodiverse conditions and their strengths.

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Exploring Neurodivergent Conditions

It is important to note that Neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of neurological variations and is not limited to a number of specific ‘types’. Even people with the same neurological condition can inhibit different qualities unique to themselves. Let’s explore some of these most known forms of Neurodiverse conditions.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Autism is perhaps the most well-known of all neurodivergent conditions, and in the UK, there are approximately 700,000 individuals with ASD. Those who are autistic are sometimes described as being on a ‘spectrum’, that is a perceived scale by which people experience variants of difference with social interaction, communication and behaviour. Prejudice towards autistic people often stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding. Those with ASD inhibit many unique strengths which can include; intense focus, which can benefit individuals with mental or physical tasks. Attention to detail, higher than those who are neurotypical, as well as innovative thinking, often with an ‘out of the box’ mentality towards problem solving.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • With the advent of social media, like TikTok, ADHD has become increasingly searched-for and raised awareness and consciousness is clear, with the hashtag #ADHD receiving some 17 billion views. The Guardian reports that ADHD services are becoming ‘swamped’ as people look for diagnosis and statistics show diagnosis in men has grown 20-fold in the last 18 years as awareness increases. ADHD is diagnosed as difficulties with attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It can impact various aspects of daily functioning including academic and occupational performance. It is important to stress that ADHD does not always affect behaviour as is traditionally considered. Those with ADHD may struggle in typical learning environments but will often thrive creatively. Their ability to hyper focus on different areas of interest can lead to remarkable achievements too.
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  • Dyslexia is a condition that affects learning and processing, specifically reading, spelling and writing. It is not related to intelligence, but rather difference in the way the brain is able to understand written language. People with dyslexia are also likely to experience issues relating to phonological awareness (how things sounds), verbal memory (things that have been said or instructed to them) and verbal processing speed (the speed it takes to acknowledge what someone has said). Because dyslexic people might struggle with learning, they’re far more likely to possess strong problem-solving kills as well as spatial reasoning skills, that is, to understand something and see it from different angles or perspectives. Many prominent figures, including Sir Richard Branson, have spoken openly about their experiences with dyslexia and their success highlights how neurodivergent minds can excel in various settings, contradicting the stereotype that dyslexia impacts intelligence.

Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder)
  • Dyspraxia is a condition that is often confused with dyslexia, likely as a result of the two having similar-sounding names and with the latter being more common in people, however individuals with dyspraxia are likely to face challenges in coordination, movement and planning as opposed to processing language. Dyspraxia affects both fine and gross motor skills, fine motor skills involve focused tasks like handwriting or tying shoelaces, while gross motor skills relate to physical activity performance like running, jumping or kicking a ball. As a result, dyspraxia can also impact balance and coordination and the inability to understand spatial awareness surrounding them. Because individuals with dyspraxia face coordination challenges their strengths are far more likely to result in creative thinking, perseverance and resilience, which makes them useful contributors in workplaces that require a diverse range of skills.
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Additional Neurological Conditions

In addition to the most common types above, there are other conditions that are associated with neurodiversity, in in many instances, someone can inhibit one or multiple neurodiverse conditions.

  • OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) This is an anxiety disorder that is characterised by persistent, or unwanted thoughts and obsessions, repetitive behaviours or mental acts.

  • Tourette Syndrome – A neurological condition that induces repetitive, involuntary movements or vocalisations, which are also known as tics. Tics can range from mild to severe and may change at any point in time.

  • Bipolar Disorder – This is a disorder characterised by episodes of depression and anxiety. It can severely impact a person’ ability to perform day-to-day activities and can result in low energy levels and poor mood.

In Conclusion

Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a time to appreciate the unique strengths that neurodivergent individuals bring to our communities and workplaces, including; innovation and creativity, detail-oriented thinking, diverse problem solving approaches and enhanced memory and hyper focus. By fostering an inclusive environment that recognises and values the unique abilities that stem from neurodiversity, we can unlock the full potential for every individual, creating a society that celebrates the richness of diverse minds and enables them to thrive. For more information on Neurodiversity Celebration Week, please visit: INSERT WEBSITE LINK and be sure to follow us on social media as we’ll be exploring these conditions in more detail, just search for @deanhealthcare.