Neurodiversity Celebration Week!

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Neurodiversity Celebration Week!

It’s Neurodiversity Celebration Week!

For those who are unsure about what this means, over the coming week we will be exploring the meaning behind the “labels” given to people with neurodiverse conditions and how they can be supported, along with details about some influential people from across the globe who haven’t let anything get in the way of them achieving their goals!

But firstly, what is neurodiversity?

Everyone’s brain is different, and everyone has their own unique way of thinking, interacting and experiencing the world. Neurodiversity is based on the concept that neurological variance should be recognised and respected just like any other human variation, such as gender, race or sexual orientation. Neurodiversity Celebration Week is about celebrating the strengths and talents of people with learning differences. No human brain is exactly alike!Some of the different ways in which people think, learn, interact and perceive the world have been given ‘labels’, such as the following:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC)
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Tourette’s Syndrome.

The concept of neurodiversity is the acceptance that all humans are different, with unique minds, needs and abilities. Neurodiversity Celebration Week is also about recognising hard work, resilience and determination and serves as a reminder that no matter what our differences and challenges, everyone also has their own strengths and talents.Throughout this week we will be sharing information about each of the neurodiverse conditions mentioned to give a better understanding of how people with these conditions can be supported throughout their working and everyday life.The important thing is to be kind to one another, as no one knows what another person is dealing with!Learn more at the Neurodiversity Week website.

ADHD

About 4% of the population have ADHD. It affects a person’s ability to focus, can cause inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. People with ADHD can be some of the most creative members on a team, bringing energy and new approaches to their projects. Several studies have shown that adults with ADHD tend to be out-of-the-box thinkers and good at keeping calm under pressure.

Celebrities with ADHD:

Channing Tatum, a film star, born in 1980 and diagnosed with ADHD as a child. Tatum is known particularly for films including Jump Street, Magic Mike and Step Up. In 2022, Time Magazine named Tatum as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Speaking to Vanity Fair (2013), Tatum talked about the standardisation of testing for ADHD and how the testing was geared to just one kind of child. Neurodiverse conditions are all different and are even different within each specific “label”, which reiterates how different every person’s brain really is.

Michael Phelps, the world’s most successful Olympian with a total of 28 medals and 5 broken world records. Born in 1985 and diagnosed with ADHD at aged 9. Talking to People Magazine (2017) and The New York Times (2008), Phelps talked about how both he and his mother were told by teachers that he would never amount to anything and never be successful. 2008 saw Phelps take part in the Beijing Olympics and the author of the article from the New York Times in the same year concluded by saying ‘The moral of her [Phelps’s Mother’s] story, which offers hope for parents of any child with a challenge like ADHD: too many adults looked at Ms. Phelps’s boy and saw what he couldn’t do. This week, the world will be tuned into the Beijing Olympics to see what he can do.’

Lily Allen, a musician and actor, born in 1985. Allen is quoted in NME (2018) as saying she can ‘get very easily distracted. So, if I’m trying to have a deep and meaningful conversation with someone and then something happens somewhere else, I just wander off. And that can be really hurtful and upsetting for someone who’s trying to have that deep and meaningful conversation with me.’ Allen has described herself as having ‘so many diagnoses she isn’t sure what mental health issues are even hers’. Despite the difficult times she has been through, she is a 2018 Brit Award winner, nominated for a Mercury Prize and nominated for the Best Actress Laurence Oliver Award.

Information obtained from adhduk.co.uk/famous-people-with-adhd/

Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC)

There are a few details about what it is and how it affects people, plus a few celebrities who have overcome their diagnosis to achieve their desired goals.

About 2% of the population is Autistic – around 700,000 people in the UK. It affects how a person perceives the world and interacts and socialises with others, making it challenging for them to pick up social cues and interpret them. They can be sensitive to lights, noise, touch and smells, which can sometimes cause them distress. People on the autistic spectrum can be highly logical and can be good at absorbing and remembering facts, attention to detail, and recognising patterns.

Celebrities with ASC:

Greta Thunberg, most famously known as the youngest Swedish environmental activist known specifically for challenging world leaders about climate change. At just 20 years old, Greta has stormed social media since a young age and refers to her autism diagnosis as her “superpower”. When speaking in an interview with Teen Vogue in 2021, she described her diagnosis as a positive, she says, ‘when I felt the saddest, I didn’t know that I had autism, I just thought, I don’t want to be like this. The diagnosis was almost only positive for me. It helped me get the support I needed and made me understand why I was like this.’

Courtney Love, an American Singer and Actress for the past forty years. Born in 1964, initially Courtney was diagnosed with a mild form of Autism where she found social communication most difficult. Despite this, she rose to fame as lead vocalist of an alternative rock band which she created. (disabilitease.com)

Hannah Gadsby, an Australian comedian born in1978. she revealed in an interview with Australian Men’s Health online, that ‘it didn’t make sense to me because I didn’t really know that women and girls could have autism, once I got diagnosed there was a sort of grief and confusion.’ Gadsby’s statement shows how much more awareness should be given around ASC at a young age, to show that it doesn’t discriminate no matter who you are and what your background is. As Hannah Gadsby puts it, ‘I’m like Eeyore but inside I’m a bundle of Piglets. Since diagnosis, I’m all embracing my Winnie the Pooh…that’s the best way I can put it.’

Dyslexia and Dyspraxia

About 10% of the population are dyslexic. It is a language processing difficulty that can cause challenges with reading, writing and spelling. IT can cause challenges with processing information quickly, organisation, sequencing, spoken language and motor skills. Dyslexic people can be very good at creative thinking, problem-solving and verbal communication. About 35% of entrepreneurs (business owners) are dyslexic.

About 6% of the population have Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder). It affects your physical coordination and sometimes can be misperceived as clumsiness. Dyspraxia can affect your fine motor skills, such as handwriting, ability to tie your shoes and doing up buttons. It can also affect your gross motor skills, such as being able to catch and kick a ball, run and ride a bicycle, as well as your ability to organise yourself. However, those with dyspraxia are more creative, determined and really good at developing their own strategies to overcome difficulties.

Celebrities with Dyslexia or Dyspraxia:

Albert Einstein, the 1921 Nobel Prize winner for Physics, who developed the general theory of relativity and is known for his influence on the philosophy of science, had struggled with his words and writing. Einstein did not speak until the age of three and once he did speak, he was described as laborious until the age of seven. Like others, Einstein was a student whose teachers thought nothing good could come from him. Little did they know!

Agatha Christie, known for writing 66 detective novels and 14 short stories with characters such as Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, Agatha Christie struggled with her written words, and is quoted as saying ‘writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was…an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so.’ Born in 1890, it would have been difficult to come across the help she required however, she was also one to not let it defeat her and became one of the most famous mystery writers of her time, and still is to this day.

David Bailey, a legendary photographer who has been interested in art and photography from a young age. From photographing models, musicians, artists, and actors – from the Beatles to Jude Law, it would be difficult to comprehend that he has dyspraxia. As a child, he was considered clumsy and struggled with writing and spelling. Commenting on their children, his wife, who was the chair of the Dyspraxia Foundation, said: “The children see what Bailey has done through his endeavours, and they realise their difficulties don’t really matter.”

Information courtesy of neurodiversityweek.com / dyslexia.com / dyspraxiakids.com

Tourette’s Syndrome (TS)

About 1% of the population have TS which can cause sudden uncontrolled, repetitive muscle movements and sounds called ‘tics’. Stressful situations can make the tics more frequent, longer and more severe. People with TS can be faster at assembling sounds into words (phonology) and are often high achieving, creative and empathetic.

Celebrities with Tourette’s Syndrome:

Billie Eilish. Born in 2001, Billie spoke about having Tourette’s on an Instagram Story in 2018. She described her tics as being ‘not super noticeable to others’ but felt the need to speak out about her condition after people were seen to be posting videos of her tics online. Billie spoke about never mentioning having Tourette’s online partly due to the reason, she says, that  ‘I’ve just never wanted people to think of Tourette’s every time they think of me.’ (womenshealthmag.com)

Dan Aykroyd. Diagnosed at an early age with mostly grunting and physical tics through nervousness, Dan also struggled with Asperger’s around the same time. From being diagnosed at 12 years of age with both conditions, he tried therapy and found it really worked for him. However, by 14 years old his symptoms began to ease. With all of what Aykroyd has faced, it’s what has made his strong character, as well as the comedian, singer, actor and screenwriter he has become.

Information courtesy of neurodiversityweek.com / womenshealthmag.com / montgomeryacademyonline.org/blog/dan-aykroyd-battling-with-aspergers-and-tourettes