Neurodivergence – a Short Interview

Neurodivergence speaks to the fact that people’s brains are structured differently. The “majority” are neurotypical. The non-typical group (neurodivergents: autistic people, people with ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, BPD, and a host of learning/mental “disabilities”) have different strengths and weaknesses.

The concept of neurodivergence pushes for acknowledging them as people who need a different sort of support, but can function as well. Their inabilities may not be observable at the first glance, but should be acknowledged, and their strengths (when acknowledged and pressure to appear neurotypical is taken off) can actually propel humanity through an innovative phase. Most of the ground-breaking innovators, inventors, and disruptors in history were neurodivergent, and it goes to show how much we should encourage rather than suppress them. Make room for them in society, and allow for success: in workspaces, in educational systems, in policies.

It is a call to open the doors to allow for people to achieve the same goal in a different manner, seeing other people as individuals, and not just productive units.

But all that is just one side. The flip side to inclusion is showing neurodivergents how to integrate with a largely neurotypical society. How to work around their own neurology, “default settings” and liabilities to achieve the same outcomes by taking paths unique to their own strengths so that they do not wallow in burnout in a bid to appear normal.

It means strength-based coaching, knowledge-oriented play, mental support sessions, community etc.

It’s what I do, it’s who I am, and I am happy to show others the way.

The children grow up feeling less than human (or worse than their mates). The constant anxiety and criticism sets them up to look like “lazy children with lots of potential but unwilling to to their best” ( sound familiar? It’s a huge problem). They grow into unsure adults with varying degrees of esteem issues, “anger problems”, make a lot of ” mistakes”, have strained relationships etc.

They struggle at work, with building a career… Sometimes they try to fix the growing sense of helplessness with an addiction that boosts dopamine secretion (low dopamine levels is the common condition for neurodivergents).

Sometimes they hit burnout, and just give up. Sometimes (rare cases), their struggles in adulthood lead them to stumble unto a diagnosis (this was me).

The low awareness and lack of acceptance hurts everyone. This is not even a call for special schools. Most of them would survive the normal school system if teachers are well trained. For example, eye-contact does not show learning – testing does. But some teachers would go as far as to hit children because they’re not making eye contact (even though the child was listening). When a neurodivergent (ND) child wants to survive that sort of situation they learn to forgo actual learning  for social blending, so they’d expand their “limited energy” ( let’s use this term for simplicity) to appear to blend in – which means that they’re most likely not taking in anything you’re teaching. Then you wonder why they can’t “retain anything”. They can. You’re just messing with their neurology because of your ego and your need to feel like the centre of the class. When teachers learn to treat each child as an individual with strengths, likes, dislikes, weaknesses, and humanity, they’d be able to coach their students through the learning process to produce amplified results and promote applied contextual learning (which is at the top of the learning pyramid) as against simply replicating what they (the teacher) knows. Teaching is meant to equip your students to live great lives in the world they would be living in, not to replicate yourself in a student. The word you were born into (like Dr. Cindy Trimm would say) does not exist anymore. Stop raising/teaching children for worlds that do not exist anymore.

We don’t need more/special schools. That would simply reinforce the existing discrimination, and discourage diagnosis. We need inclusion and acceptance and support.

Jane Hadassah OLUWADARE
Hadassah bath YHWH
The Father’s Daughter

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Jane Oluwadare

She helps neurodivergent people build income models, sustainable systems and learning structures suited to their own unique contexts, strengths and abilities.

Schooled as a Biochemist with clinical exposure and practice, the graduate of the University of Ibadan has spent several years curating knowledge and expressing the many facets of her talents and personality. She is now committed to showing the next generation how to do everything, and win by building bridges from the past, leveraging history, technology and innovation to forge a future that works for them.

As a coach, she continues to work with individuals (with special focus on neurodivergent people) to work through choke points in their different facets, finding strategies that'll push them through to the next phase.

With over 15 years of sewing under her belt, she has over time in her experience with a wide range of female clothing and the female form, constructed entire wardrobes from the scratch. She brings this wealth of exposure and experience to bear in running her fashion house (Hadassah's Stitches Fashion House), guiding the production of dresses for sale, leveraging on her gift for fabric selection to suit contexts and soothe sensory needs. She also teaches classes on garment construction, pattern drafting and the business of fashion.

An International Youth Council member and Global Youth Ambassador, she sits on the boards of several youth-led organizations in an advisory capacity; and continues to work with others to help develop children and young people to create a life of impact.

An avid food lover, chef and food critic, Hadassah spends her time creating new dishes, working as a private chef and running ZoéSpice Kitchen and Events. She is also curating her uniquely crafted kitchen secrets to be passed on. She puts all of her medical and nutritional experience together with over a decade of cooking and crafting recipes to create meal plans for her clients, helping them achieve a healthy lifestyle and desired body goal, based on everyday food items.

At the heart of her entrepreneurial ventures, she is the Executive Director of CriArt Skill Academy, a tech-driven school for creatives and neurodivergents to learn creative, social and life skills as backed up by their school curriculum. The wide array of options mean that no one is left behind, and there's an option that works for every student.

An avid writer, she uses her books and articles to educate, inform and entertain, making them valuable supporting resources in her work as a coach, mentor and teacher. They are available as e-copies, audiobooks, and in print.

At Phronesis Lighthouse, she continues to link people with knowledge, and ready to share, with people who are hungry to learn via programs, training, courses, and networking events.

She speaks, trains and consults, and has received numerous awards across her various spheres of influence.

At the very core of her being, Hadassah keeps chasing after The One who keeps her balanced and finds the ultimate fulfillment in her fellowship with the Holy Spirit. She quips that He is the real super power that keeps her functioning as an autistic person with ADHD, and often shares the insights He teaches her on Personal Development, Business Development and mindset reorientation according to the Word with Deborah's Court (her ministry expression).

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