What is Neurodivergency?
At age 12, Jennifer Smith decided to write a book. While a daunting goal for anyone, let alone a child, for Jenny it was truly remarkable. Because up until age nine, Jenny couldn’t read at all. Jenny has dyslexia, an unexpected difficulty with reading that affects as many as one in five people. People with dyslexia are smart and capable, yet due to a neurological glitch in their brains, they have intense difficulty with word retrieval and decoding. A combination visual, auditory and kinesthetic teaching approach used with great success on those with dyslexia gave her the tools she needed to learn to read. Certainly Jenny benefitted tremendously from this tutoring. And while trying to help a neighbor boy struggling with reading, Jenny came up with the idea of writing a book about her experience.
This is a real life story we all need to get inspired from. She is a ‘neurodivergent’ kid who exhibits a wide array of differences in brain functioning from what’s considered standard. Jennifer Weber, director of behavioral health for PM Pediatrics Behavioral Health in New York suggests that these problems are not pathological, but any number of slight changes or variations impact a wide array of functioning such as mood, social skills, learning style, attention, cognition and concentration. Rebecca Kolb, a special education researcher at the University of Minnesota, says educators should use evidence-based instruction to help neurodivergent students. Education should be tailor made for neurodivergent students as it provides a bridge from what children do know to what they’re learning.
How Parents Can Support Neurodiverse Children?
The single best thing any parent can do to support their neurodivergent child is to identify their needs and provide high-quality intervention as early as possible. When children are old enough, have an open and clear conversation about their diagnosis. Reach out to your child’s school and teachers in particular to obtain support and finally address their anxiety and allow them to do what makes them happy and contended.