Blog by Tariro Sibanda
Neurodiversity is a beautiful tapestry of human variation that encompasses a wide range of neurological differences, including autism (ASD) and what used to be called Asperger’s, ADHD, dyslexia, and more. But it can be hard to parent a neurodivergent child! Each neurodivergent child is unique, possessing their own strengths, challenges, and perspectives. It’s essential to create a supportive environment that allows them to thrive. In this blog post, we’ll explore what neurodivergence is and how you can support a neurodivergent child in their journey of self-discovery and growth.
Neurodiversity is the recognition that neurological differences are natural variations within the human population, similar to diversity in race, gender, or ethnicity. Instead of viewing these differences as disorders, we can celebrate them as valuable aspects of our shared human experience. Neurodivergent individuals can have unique talents, intense interests, and a different way of perceiving and interacting with the world. Understanding them makes interacting with them easier.
How to Support a Neurodivergent Child
- Educate Yourself
The first step in supporting a neurodivergent child is to educate yourself about their specific condition. Learn about the challenges they might face and the strengths they possess. Understanding their perspective is crucial to providing effective support.
- Embrace Neurodiversity
Embrace neurodiversity by accepting and celebrating your child’s unique qualities. Avoid trying to “normalise” them; instead, encourage their individuality and self-expression.
- Open Communication
Create an environment where your child feels safe to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Listen actively, ask open-ended questions, and validate their emotions. Effective communication fosters trust and a sense of belonging.
- Tailored Support
Recognise that every neurodivergent child is different. Tailor your support to their specific needs, preferences, and sensitivities. What works for one child may not work for another.
- Advocate for Your Child
Be your child’s advocate in school, healthcare settings, and the community. Ensure they receive the accommodations and support they need to succeed. Collaborate with teachers and specialists to develop individualised plans.
- Encourage Independence
Empower your child by teaching them essential life skills and encouraging self-advocacy. Help them build strategies to navigate challenges and make choices that align with their goals.
- Sensory-Friendly Environment
Create a sensory-friendly environment at home and school by reducing sensory overload. Provide a safe space where your child can regulate their sensory experiences when needed.
- Promote Social Connections
Support your child in building social skills and connections with peers. Organise playdates, join social groups, and encourage participation in activities they enjoy.
- Patience and Empathy
Practice patience and empathy when your child faces difficulties. Remember that neurodivergent children may have unique ways of processing information and emotions. Be a source of unwavering support.
- Seek Professional Help
If necessary, seek professional guidance from therapists, psychologists, or special educators who specialize in neurodiversity. They can provide valuable insights and strategies for addressing specific challenges.
Supporting a neurodivergent child is a journey of love, understanding, and growth. By embracing neurodiversity, fostering open communication, and tailoring your support to their individual needs, you can help them embrace their unique qualities and thrive in a world that celebrates diversity. Remember that neurodivergence is not a limitation but a source of strength and innovation. Together, we can create a more inclusive and accepting world for all children, regardless of their neurological differences.
Tariro works at our Lutwyche clinic with children from age six and helps families to see different perspectives and find creative solutions to their issues.