Celebrating and recognising neurodiversity

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Toni Cooper is Service Manager for the Neurodevelopmental Service at Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

October marks ADHD Awareness Month, as well as Dyslexia Awareness Week (2 – 8 October) and Dyspraxia Awareness Week (October 9 – 15). This gives us an opportunity to talk about each of these conditions, and neurodiversity more generally.

Neurodiversity is a word used to explain the unique ways people’s brains work. While everyone’s brain develops similarly, no two brains are the same. Being neurodivergent means having a brain that works differently from the average, neurotypical person.

Many people that are neurodiverse have differences in their social preferences, ways of learning, ways of communicating and/or ways of perceiving their environment.

While neurodiversity is often framed as something that individuals, “lack” or “struggle with” or “find challenging,” each condition has benefits for the person, and for the world at large.

For example:

  • People with ADHD may struggle with managing their time, but may be creative thinkers with an ability to focus deeply on things that interest them
  • People with dyspraxia may struggle with physical coordination, but are good at problem-solving
  • People with dyslexia may find it challenging to read quickly and accurately, but may be observant and empathetic

Despite these strengths, it’s very common for people – especially young people who are still learning to navigate the world as neurodiverse people – to need support. CAMHS is developing our Neurodevelopmental Service to provide support to neurodiverse children, young people and their families. 

We already provide assessments pathways for ADHD and Autism, and are working on getting waiting times down. However, we also know that for children and young people (and their families) getting a diagnosis is just the first step. Understanding how this diagnosis might impact family life, school life and social life is key.

That is why the Neurodevelopmental Service provides:

  • Welcome and information sessions for young people and their families to help them understand their condition(s), and what support is available
  • Information packs, webinars, and support groups to give parents the information they need to provide better support
  • A dual assessment that means we can screen children and young people for Autism and ADHD at the same time, reducing delays
  • A young person’s participation group to make sure that the service meets their needs

Although this month is a good opportunity to foster more conversations around ADHD, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, the work of the Neurodevelopmental Service will continue to grow and develop throughout the year.

I’d invite any parents or young people who want to provide feedback to contact us via email: camhsneuropathway@health.gov.je.

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