Neurodiversity in children

A new evidence-based resource from raisingchildren.net.au helps parents understand neurodiversity in children and gives them tips on how they can help embrace neurodiversity in family life, communities and schools. It can be helpful to share this resource with parents who are seeking information about neurodiversity.

Understanding neurodiversity

Neurodiversity is the idea that there’s natural variation in how people’s brains work and how people understand and interact with the world. This means that there are natural differences in the way people learn and communicate.

Most children’s brains develop in ways that are seen as typical for their age and stage. These children can be described as neurotypical. About 1 in 5–6 children have variations in their brain development. These variations include those seen in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and dyslexia. These children can be described as neurodivergent.

Embracing neurodiversity

Embracing neurodiversity is about accepting, including, celebrating and supporting neurodivergent children. It acknowledges that their differences are part of natural variation and don’t need to be treated or changed.

Embracing neurodiversity includes:

  • acknowledging that neurodivergent children might do things differently
  • adjusting tasks and activities so that neurodivergent children can fully participate
  • making the most of neurodivergent children’s skills, especially the skills they are proud of
  • making sure that schools, sports clubs, social groups and community organisations include and support neurodivergent children.

This is important because when communities embrace neurodiversity it takes away the pressure for neurodivergent children to behave in neurotypical ways, hide behaviour like stimming, mask or hide who they are, or cope with sensory overstimulation. This is good for neurodivergent children’s mental health, wellbeing, sense of self and identity.

Embracing neurodiversity is also good for society. Just like the planet needs a diversity of plants and animals to survive, society needs neurodiversity to thrive. Neurodivergent people bring many strengths to society, including creative, innovative and analytical thinking and expertise in areas of special interest.

How to embrace neurodiversity

There are many ways for families, communities and schools to embrace neurodiversity. See Neurodiversity and neurodivergence: a guide for families for more information.

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