A parent's perspective
Last year, my daughter was diagnosed as having Dyslexia, and 9 months later, we discovered she has both Dyslexia and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). She was assessed by an amazing educational psychologist following concerns raised by myself and her then teacher about how she was developing at school, in areas such as reading, spelling and writing. You see, like many other children with Dyslexia and ADHD, she is extremely intelligent, above average in fact; but when it comes to these common areas, their performance does not match their potential ability.
So what hinders their potential ability? What is Dyslexia and ADHD?
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. (British Dyslexia Association)
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurological condition that affects a young person’s concentration, impulse control and time awareness. People with ADHD can be impulsive, forgetful and easily distracted, without meaning to be. They may interrupt frequently and not pay attention, and some will be hyperactive. Young people with ADHD need a consistent approach, regular and immediate feedback to help stay on track and make progress, and to be rewarded for good behaviour. (ADHD Foundation)
Both ADHD and Dyslexia are referred to as “neurodiverse” along with other diagnoses such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia and Tourette’s. Neurodiversity is a positive term established as we move away from the negative stigma of a disability. It is a set of strengths and weaknesses.
Did you know that:
1 in 20 people have ADHD, 1 in 100 people have Autism, 1 in 10 people have Dyslexia
Did you also know that many famous people past and present were/are Neurodiverse?
Bill Gates – ADHD, Michael Phelps – ADHD, Justin Timberlake – ADHD
Anthony Hopkins – ASD, Andy Warhol – ASD, Tim Burton – ASD
Albert Einstein – Dyslexic, Richard Branson – Dyslexic, Steven Spielberg – Dyslexic
Many large and successful global businesses are now seeking to employ individuals that are neurodiverse, as they carry exceptional skills in areas that these companies want to succeed in, such as creative thinking , visual/spatial skills, conversation skills, attention to detail, excellent reasoning skills, innovation, persistence and intuition.
You only need to look at the likes of successful businessmen like Bill Gates and Richard Branson to understand how amazing these neurodiverse skills are.
As parents of a neurodiverse child we have done a lot of research into her different diagnoses and are members of extremely helpful support groups run by specialists in these areas, so we have learned how to support our daughter in her educational, psychosocial and emotional needs.
At school, her teachers are aware of her areas of strength and weakness, and she receives additional support from the school’s learning support department.
In the classroom, there are extra accommodations in place to help her, such as extra time with tests, instructions need to be explained to her step-by-step and repeated, and she needs to be allowed regular breaks to help her concentration.
There is a lot of support and information available to parents of neurodiverse children, as well as for our children – support groups, charities, professionals, books and the internet, to name only a few... and school. School has such a vital role, from early detection, learning support, accommodations, reward systems, understanding, boundaries, consistency and empowerment.
My daughter and I are just starting out on our neurodiverse journey, and we are very much looking forward to meeting, supporting and empowering others along our way.