Dawn, Bright Horizons Early Childhood SEND Director shares 5 top tips on how to talk to your little one about neurodiversity… The brain is an amazing organ, and no two brains are alike. Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain can work and interpret information. People naturally think about things differently. We all have different interests and motivations and are naturally better at some things and weaker at others.
When people are described as neurotypical, it means that the brain functions and processes information in the way that society expects. It is estimated that around one in seven people (more than 15 per cent of people in the UK) are neurodivergent, meaning that their brain functions, learns and processes information differently and this person sees the world in a different way.
People who are neurodivergent are often diagnosed with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia or Tourette’s as these differences are more pronounced.
People who are neurodivergent may need some adjustments to their environments to help them. At Bright Horizons, we acknowledge our neurodivergent children and staff and make adjustments to enable them to flourish. This may be by providing a quiet place to work or unwind or giving them breaks if they find the busy rooms challenging.
Why is it Important to Talk to Your Children About Neurodiversity?
Just as its important to talk to your child about how people and families come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours, its is also important to let them know that people can think and feel differently too. It is never to early to talk about this together, as the more they know about the differences between us, the more they will understand and accept other children and adults who are not like them.
5 Tips for Talking to Your Child About Neurodiversity
1. Start by talking with your child about what they are good at and the things they find challenging. Explain to them that everyone is different and if we were all brilliant at football or dancing but not good at baking, there would be no more delicious cakes for us to eat!
2. Talk to your child about the fact that everyone learns in a different way. Some people like to be read to and other people like to read to themselves, some like to read instructions and some like to watch a video that shows them how to do something. This will help your child to understand that there is no right or wrong way to learn something.
3. Discuss the topic of ‘fairness’ with your little one. They might see a child being treated differently from them in nursery and think that this is not fair. Talk to them about the fact that being fair doesn’t necessarily mean treating everyone the same. Some people might need more help to get to the same place.
4. Read books and watch TV programmes that celebrate diversity. This is a great way for your child to learn about the world, and it gives you the chance to start that conversation about being different. The lovereading4kids website has lots of ideas for books that support diversity and you will find these books in your Bright Horizons nursery. You can also ask your child’s Key Person for some ideas too.
5. Talk about being kind and understanding. Remind your child that everyone can be good at one thing and not at another. Being kind to someone who is struggling with something can help them feel much better.