Having neurodiverse kids can mean a variety of different things, and each family has their own routine and rapport. There are so many ways that people can experience neurodiversity, which essentially refers to any condition in which someone’s brain functions outside of the expected norm. This can refer to autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, attention disorders, dyslexia or any combination of those conditions which impact the brain’s functioning. In recent years, diagnosis and management have gotten better than it ever has been before, which can lead to all new opportunities for kids living with neurodiversity of all kinds.
When it comes to relating to peers — both between parents and between the kids themselves — there are definitely a few things that are helpful to know when interacting with neurodiverse kids. At the end of the day, they’re just like any regular child, and all children have unique needs. Just like any regular child, neurodiverse kids need love, compassion and understanding. Whether your child has friends who are neurodiverse or you want to become more educated in the future, here are a few things that parents of neurodiverse kids want you to know.
1. All Parenting Is Hard Work
One thing that’s important to know no matter who you are is that parenting is hard work no matter what your children are like. While it’s likely that everybody is already familiar with the workload that comes along with parenthood, the parents of neurodiverse kids might have unique challenges to deal with. But regardless, all parents have unique challenges, and adjusting to your child’s needs is a part of any parenting journey, and that’s something that everybody can relate to.
2. Our Kids May Be Sensitive
Being sensitive to your child’s needs can take many different forms, and with neurodivergent kids, it’s about listening and adjusting as needed. Kids with learning disabilities may need more academic support and specialization, while kids on the autism spectrum may need sensory soothing and other forms of support. Again, neurodivergent kids are just like anyone else in this aspect, that people have their own needs that should be cared for by their support systems.
3. There are Moments for Celebration
Some people may look at differences as something odd or something to be ashamed of. On the contrary, there are plenty of moments that neurodiversity allows families to celebrate what makes them unique! From celebrating Autistic Pride Day on June 18 with games and activities to discovering all new ways to communicate and interact with one another, neurodivergent kids can open up all new realms of exploration and expression, and creating a welcoming environment for that is key.
4. Friendship Is Just as Important
One highly important thing that parents of neurodiverse kids want everyone to know is that even if our kids are different from the norm, friendship and companionship is still crucial to healthy development. Our kids are just like yours in that they want to be around others who understand them. Even if understanding them and their needs might be a unique experience, encouraging friendships can lead to lifelong connections and healthy communication for everyone.
5. Every Child Is Unique
Neurodivergent can mean a variety of things, and even within the subsets and classifications, it’s important to remember that every child has their own needs, personality and experiences. No two kids are alike, and the same goes for neurodivergent kids. That’s why it’s important to connect on a deeper, more personal level instead of making generalizations. No two dyslexic or autistic kids are the same, and recognizing that can help build friendships and pathways to understanding.
6. Neurodiversity Is Nothing New
One thing that people can sometimes forget is the long history of neurodiversity throughout humanity. While diagnosis has certainly gotten better in recent decades, people have been neurodiverse for centuries, which means that people have interacted with one another even without the modern insight we now have that helps us understand neurodiversity as well as we currently do. While diagnoses and care are always improving, people have always managed with neurodiversity. And while it’s not entirely possible to know for sure, many famous historical figures — as well as current celebrities — are thought to have been neurodivergent in some way. From world-class supermodels to ground-breaking scientists, neurodivergent people can truly achieve anything.
What Everyone Should Know about Neurodiverse Kids
Everybody is different, and everybody’s kids are different. While that may be a bit daunting to think about, it’s no different than any other unique parenting journey. Neurodiverse kids have been around throughout history, and now we have the best developments yet to help them succeed. From the classroom to the playground, there are so many moments to celebrate neurodiversity. Neurodiverse kids have needs and imaginations, just like regular kids, and we can give them the love and compassion that can support them through anything. Do you have any neurodiverse kids in your social circle?