Described simply, neurodiversity refers to the differences between people's minds when it comes to the way they process information and experiences. Whether you're thinking, learning, or acting, there is no one way to do it.
In contrast, neurodiversity reflects the diversity of some individuals and their ways of interacting with the world. ASD (autism spectrum disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyslexia, and dyspraxia are some of the neurological disorders that constitute neurodiversity.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by neurological differences in the brain. ASD has been identified as a common neurodevelopmental disorder in the United States, with as many as 1 in 44 children diagnosed with ASD.
The word spectrum emphasizes the variation amongst children with autism. Children on the autism spectrum have a range of intellectual abilities and challenges and will present differently depending on their developmental stage and sex.
The various disorders on the autism spectrum share some common features, such as developmental problems, social challenges, and learning disabilities.
Children with autism may find the simplest human behaviors challenging:
- Interacting with other people, making friends, and bonding with family members
- Communicating ideas, thoughts, and emotions verbally
- Understanding what others may think or feel
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. An older term many people still use for ADHD is ADD, which stands for attention deficit disorder.
In the United States, about 8.4% of children have ADHD, with symptoms typically showing around age 3-6. Children are diagnosed at different ages, with severe ADHD diagnosed on average at age 5 and mild ADHD diagnosed on average at age 8.
A child with ADHD has differences in their brain development and activity, which impact their ability to pay attention, self-control, and the ability to sit still. ADHD can affect a child at home, at school, and within their interpersonal relationships.
Executive dysfunction isn’t an official diagnosis but is a set of symptoms. Children start to develop executive functions as early as age two, and they are generally fully developed in people by their 30s.
Executive function skills usually develop quickly in early childhood and into the teen years. But they keep developing into their mid-20s. When kids are younger, some may lag behind their peers for a while.
Every person depends upon executive functioning skills that make it possible for them to function and thrive in their everyday life.
There are three main areas of executive function. They are:
- Working memory
- Cognitive flexibility (also called flexible thinking)
- Inhibitory control (which includes self-control)
Executive function is responsible for many skills, including:
- Paying attention
- Organizing, planning, and prioritizing
- Starting tasks and staying focused on them to completion
- Understanding different points of view
- Regulating emotions
- Self-monitoring (keeping track of what you’re doing)
Trouble with executive function can affect people in different ways. The difficulties often look like the signs of ADHD. That’s because ADHD is a problem with executive function.
People struggling with executive skills may:
- Have trouble starting and/or completing tasks
- Have difficulty prioritizing tasks
- Forget what they just heard or read
- Have trouble following directions or a sequence of steps
- Panic when rules or routines change
- Have trouble switching focus from one task to another
- Get overly emotional and fixate on things
- Have trouble organizing their thoughts
- Have trouble keeping track of their belongings
- Have trouble managing their time
Trouble with executive function isn’t a diagnosis or a learning disability. But it’s common in people who learn and think differently. Everyone with ADHD has trouble with it. And lots of people with learning challenges struggle with executive function, too.
These difficulties can cause trouble with learning. But that doesn’t mean that people are lazy or not intelligent. People who struggle with executive function are just as smart and work just as hard as other people.
Social-emotional and behavioral development defines how children learn to express and manage emotions, form relationships, and interact with peers in groups. A child with developmental delays may continue to show progress but at a slower pace than their peers.
According to the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, the core features of emotional development include the ability to:
- Identify and understand one’s own feelings
- Accurately read and comprehend emotional states in others
- Manage strong emotions and their expression in a constructive manner
- Regulate one’s own behavior
- Develop empathy for others
- Establish and sustain relationships
Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) found that 17% of children aged 3–17 had developmental disabilities.
With the support of our care managers and behavior analysts, we will identify supportive services available to you, develop a Plan of Care, and pursue the necessary steps to ensure you receive the best treatment possible.
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