Supporting Neurodivergent Children

Understanding Neurodiversity in Young Children
Neurodiversity is primarily the idea that different people experience and react to things in different ways, emphasizing the fact there is not one set way of learning or behaving. It is typically used to refer to people with a range of neurological disorders, a few of them being ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and more. It is especially important to acknowledge that being neurodivergent is not a problem that has to be corrected but rather just a variation of the human brain. creating an environment where neurodivergence is accepted allows for the creation of a place in which differences are valued rather than trying to fit every single person into one set of standards.

Creating Supportive and Inclusive Environments
Developing a supportive environment is crucial for neurodivergent children, regardless of whether at home or school. It is important to recognize what your child needs as an individual, it often differs from person to person; Taking these small steps of identifying their personal preferences has been seen to help them feel significantly more supported as well as comfortable. A few of the steps that can  be taken as a parent or educator to offer complete support to your child can include

  • Encouraging self-advocacy skills- doing so can allow your child to develop their own sense of independence as well as a sense of self.
  • Giving them time to explore their own interests.
  • Dimmed lights and limiting noises- Depending on the child they can have sensitivities to lights or have heightened auditory sensitivity so using dimmed lights and limiting how loud things are can help.
  • Safe play areas- Providing a space in which your child can play safely without hurting themselves or others can allow them to have fun without other stressors.
  • Limiting textures they may not be comfortable with-Oftentimes, children with ADHD and autism can have sensory issues that make it difficult for them to be completely comfortable, finding the perfect fabric for them can allow for a less overwhelming overall school and home experience. 

A large majority of these factors as mentioned earlier, often depend on the child themself and though it can take time to develop the most helpful environment for them, it is especially important to stay patient.

IEPS (Individualized Education Programs) and Accommodations
Individualized education programs were developed in order to ensure that neurodivergent students receive the help and support they need to flourish. The development of these plans has aided in several ways, one of the main ones being it allowed for the recognition and advancements in understanding what neurodivergent children may need in terms of academics as well as the challenges they can encounter in school settings. The creation of a personal IEP plan consists of a combined effort between parents, specialists/counselors, and educators in order to identify a child’s particular needs as well as develop achievable goals based on those needs; focusing on their own learning styles and how they can use it to benefit them. Though they differ greatly based on the individual, a few of the many accommodations typically offered include

  • Extended deadlines.
  • Quiet workspaces/noise-cancelling headphones
  • Particular sensory accommodations based on their preferences.
  • Opportunities for breaks
  • Preferential seating
  • Uninterpreted work time 

The use of an IEP can provide a structured way to measure the progress of a neurodivergent student while ensuring they are thriving academically to their full extent without causing them stress.

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