This post is about living with a neurodivergent brain, what it means? how we are different? is it all bad? Here’s why I wanted to write it.
Today as we had a massive breakthrough with Thomas, He overcame a really big issue for him. He showed us how he was finally learning to live with his hardest Autistic traits at last. (To read about this it’s here) However, when I came to share our massive win within our extended family, I realised that although we are accepted as we are by them. Those around us don’t actually understand what Neurodivergent conditions we live with or how these affect us.
So I decided to do a post to help explain a few things about our family and the struggles we have in the day to day life. Therefore, I hope those reading this without an understanding what that means will hopefully learn a little more about what it means.
In this house, there are 5 of us in this house and we ALL have a diagnosis of a neurodivergent brain.
- Thomas is ASD/ADHD, Dyspraxic (DCD) and dyslexic He also suffers SPD but is Hyposensitivy and Sensory Seeking
- Jessica is Dyslexic, Dyscalculia and awaiting assessment for Asperger’s and ADD
- Emily is ASD/ADHD Dyslexic and has SPD she is complex with both Hyper and Hypo sensitivities
- Myself am Asperger’s/ ADHD/OCD with Anxiety Disorder and SPD Like Emily I have Hypersensitivities to most senses except Pain where I am Hyposensitive therefore I don’t notice pain like someone else might (leading to me walking around with broken limbs without noticing more than discomfort)
- Duncan – Dylexic
What is Neurodivergent and Neurotypical?
To put it simply neurodiversity describes the way in which a brain works. For instance, a Neurotypical brain is what has considered normal it is what most people walking this earth has. Therefore we live in a world that is designed for neurotypicals.
Neurodivergent was originally used to describe just the autistic brain in the 1990s. However, as understanding has evolved around Autism and other social communication disorders or Mental health conditions have grown. So has the understanding of Neurodiversity. Therefore the term neurodivergent now also covers other conditions such as:
- ADHD/ ADD Attention Deficient (Hyperactivity) Disorder
- ASD/ Aspergers (Autistic Spectrum Disorders) ASC in America
- Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD or dyspraxia)
- SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder)
- Tourette Syndrome (TS), and others
How living with a neurodivergent brain differs?
The list is as wide a spectrum as those who fall under it. However, the basic meaning is our brains don’t function like neurotypicals.
The Neurodivergent brain is basically one with conditions that actually make up who a person is. Therefore if you took it away you would also take away parts of who that person is.
Unfortunately, as much as each of these conditions has some great positives to them. They also come with life-limiting negatives that are hard to control. These downsides are often seen in the neurotypical brain too. However you may recognoise experiencing these but it is in a much milder way.
How they appear in a neurodivergent brain is to the extremes. Also in lots of areas all at the same time meaning they are debilitating. Therefore this means things that the neurotypicals find easy to cope with, we don’t.
How and What is effected varies on the condition/s of the person living with a neurodivergent brain has. However, in this house, our biggest issues are those that align with ADHD and Asperger’s/ASD.
- Time management,
- personal hygiene,
- Mood Control,
- Sensory Issues (hyper senses and hypo sensory seeking)
- changes in routines
- problems keeping a routine
- organisation (both too overly organised and lack of organisation lol)
- excess energy regulation
- hyper- focusing
A lot of these needs clash with the needs of another in the house which then also causes issues. However, we are all learning how to work with one another.
Myths VS reality that affects our family.
There is no mild autism to the person who has the condition. Every Autistic person struggles as much as the next but some have learned to hide their struggles from the world.
ASD and Asperger’s is medically separated literally their speech development. Those who don’t have a delay in speech are given Asperger’s as a diagnosis those who do are given ASD.
High-functioning and Low Functioning has nothing to do with how the disability affects the Induvial. It is purely gauged on how their disability affects those around them! So next time you hear high-functioning, it does not mean the condition affects them any less than how it affects low-functioning. All it means is they have to learn to internalise their condition so as not to affect those around them.
This internalisation is normally paired with mimicked or copied behaviours of those around them. Some of us learn to hide our struggles to blend in. This is known as MASKING and can be detrimental to mental health. Especially if they have nowhere they are comfortable enough to drop the mask. This makes us a higher risk in general.
We are more likely to suffer severe and comorbid conditions of ASD, ADHD, OCD, ODD, Anxiety, depression, sleep problems etc. Furthermore, are more likely to fall victim to abusive relationships, have substance abuse problems or end in prison. Comorbidity means the presence of a disease or medical condition that is simultaneously present with another/others in a patient
Not all Autistics have Sensory Processing Disorder (although most do) and those that do aren’t all Hypersensitive. It’s not all or nothing either, one person can have both hypersensitivity and Hyposensitivities. For instance, being Hypersensitive to noise and touch but also be hypo sensitive to pain.
Most Importantly despite all of the above, we are AMAZING and CAN achieve so much!
Even with the challenges, we suffer in life from living with a neurodivergent brain, some of the most inspirational people in the world are Divergent!
- Albert Einstein
- Henry Ford
- Bill Gates
- Richard Branson
- Emma Watson
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Dan Akroyd
- Van Gogh – There is a little Controversy over Van Gogh but I think his paintings say it all
- Sir Antony Hopkins
“My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am, and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.”
We really do ROCK living with a neurodivergent brain!
Although we may be different, each of us is awesome in our own way. We are some of the most Wonderful strengths!
- creativity – we see the world in ways that inspire and are totally unique to us but appreciated by all
- Unrelenting Kindness without strings
- loyalty – if we have your back we have it unconditionally
- Problem-solving – we have a wonderful way of finding abnormal solutions to problems.
- Strong work ethic – If we get on board we give it our all and give our best every time
- A precise eye for detail – we see things others miss we are amazingly adapt to see the smallest things
- Exceptional memory skills – normally for facts when these fall within our interest.
- Honest – We tell things how they are and are expressive
- Empathy – We can feel the pain others are going through and will try everything to stop it or help it
- Hyper-focus – when we get into something we keep going until it’s complete and able of such amazing feats!
- Strong moral Compass – We fight for the underdog, We like things fair and appreciate rules.
- Thinking outside of the Box – again we see those things others don’t
- Determination – We aren’t scared of hard work! After all for most of us just being “normal” takes effort
- Risk assessment – this goes two ways. Some are able to see risks easily while others are “free” due to their lack of risk assessment abilities. When they align right we make end up making massive progress for those around us.
- Young at heart – We mentally age slower than those around us. Therefore, we are great inspirational and fun teachers. We also bring a touch of fun for those around us and able to help those around us enjoy themselves.
- People pleasers – For many of us this can be our downfall. Especially when we try to please the wrong type of people. However, for those at work, we will happily go above and beyond in our work. As a result, when in a supported placement willing to put us above the results, we make amazing team members!