As studies in diversity and inclusion continue to be regular practice for psychologists, more and more data is being produced to prove that an inclusive environment is one that is best for the well-being of children at home to the quality of performance done by adults in the workplace. Whether racial, cultural, gender-related, or otherwise, diversity and inclusion are paramount practices for maintaining a positive mindset in your youngsters.
Neurodiversity is the understanding and acceptance that people learn by different styles and at different levels, and that is completely normal and something that should be embraced. No matter where your youngster falls on the neurodiversity chart, they should understand that there is no “normal”, especially as we live with the after effects of the pandemic. They should feel comfortable and empowered right where they are.
Here are some ways to teach neurodiversity with your youngsters, as well as ways to deal with the inevitable truth that some children simply aren’t raised with the same levels of acceptance as others, especially when neurodiversity is involved.
It’s not uncommon for a child (or an adult, for that matter) to experience a neurodevelopmental difference, and, in fact, nearly 1 in 6 children get diagnosed with some sort of neurological difference. These differences do not mean, however, that a youngster is any less capable of learning or achieving, simply that their neurological makeup is different. Many individuals who have neurological differences are actually a lot more capable at certain jobs than others. Many brains that are structured for mathematic prowess also contain neurological signifiers that may require treatment. Obviously, these mathematical brains are extremely important to many jobs, like business analysts, and serve as a great example where “different doesn’t mean less” regarding neurodiversity.
Sharing things like this and reiterating that point can help your youngster understand that he or she is exactly where they should be mentally, no matter where that is.
No matter where your child falls on the spectrum of neurodiversity, accommodation is very important to show them that the differences are normal and accepted. Accommodations can help empower your children to utilize their differences, ultimately making them something a child should be proud of no matter where the difference lies. Many digital options exist for development of neurological prowess, and you should always be pushing your youngsters to learn, no matter how they tend to learn best. Many learning institutions are starting to incorporate mindfulness into the classroom, and that’s something you could start doing at home as well.
Flexibility is also another aspect of accommodation, and especially if you’re in a household with multiple children who have different levels of cognation, being able to help them learn in different ways should be point number one as a parent and/or at-home educator. This, too, serves as a way to show you youngster that no spot on the neurodiversity scale is wrong, it’s just different than others’ and should be accepted as such.
Communication is also in line with accommodation, but taking it a step further is being able to teach your youngster how to talk to different people. Some of these people may be adults, some may be very sharp kids, and some may take time to open up. Preaching the same acceptance for these styles of communication further teaches the view that there is no “normal,” simply different, and all should be accepted.
Just as neurodiversity discussions are kind of new on the grand scale of inclusion (but equally as important), the strategies for teaching and accepting will surely change. Take a look at these teaching engagement strategies to try out at home. It is important to continue these conversations as your youngsters move through the ranks of school and even college, but it’s also important to self-educate and be sure to change your strategies if data decides that some are better than others!