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

Author: Jane Oluwadare
Jane solves hard problems so you don't stay stuck Jane (Hadassah) OLUWADARE is an autistic, dyslexic multi-dimensional woman who uses her different dimensions to amplify one another, and is committed to showing other neurodivergent people how to replicate working wisdom in their respective contexts. In the PKH Network, she brings her various facets, strengths and skills to work together in viable business models, creating solutions for other visionaries, and providing platforms for young people to grow into their own strengths, develop experience and expertise As a data analyst, strategist and business development consultant in PKH Consulting, she sits with business structures to help them identify the gaps in their processes, build the blueprints, strategy, process flows and structures that will get them from where they are to where they want to be. As a productivity and execution coach in PHRONESIS Lighthouse, she works with neurodivergent people to get more productive, and do more with less effort, with particular attention to autistic people and people with ADHD. As a fashion consultant in HSFH, she styles, illustrates, and brings 15+ years of sewing experience to bear as she works to produce and sell stylish clothing that meets sensory, functional and fashionable needs. She teaches creative and trade skills in CriArt Skill Academy, working with neurodivergent children (with particular attention to autism, dyslexia and ADHD) to show them how their natural talents and tendencies can be an advantage inside and outside of the classroom and school curriculum. Utilising games and play as tools, as well as drawing from her own personal experience as a designer, chef and writer she helps them transfer the skills from the creative arts into school subjects and real life. She writes extensively, sharing her thoughts in books, articles and through her various enterprises as creative stories and non-fiction think-pieces available in Books By Hadassah. An International Youth Council member and former Global Youth Ambassador, she sits on the boards of several youth-led organisations in an advisory capacity; and continues to work with others to help develop children and young adults to create a life of impact. At the very core of her being, Hadassah keeps chasing after The One who keeps her balanced and finds the ultimate fulfilment in her fellowship with the Holy Spirit. She quips that He is the real super power that keeps her functioning as an autistic, dyslexic 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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