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  • Writer's pictureDee Crute

On Neurodiversity

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

Is Coaching a Game Changer?


Please Note: I have included my nature photographs within this article to rest your eyes on something green and take breaks whilst reading.

Grass with meadow in the background
Black Forest, Seebach, Germany by Dee Crute

Having had autism coaching in 2021, I found it the only way to help and support neurodivergent folk without the need to change who we are.

It was a life-saving experience.

You may quite rightly wonder, why, then did I end up having a total ultra breakdown lately?

Valid question.

Without it, this would have happened much earlier, and I do not believe I would have been able to cope with the breakdown.

Before coaching, I went through many therapy sessions, but nothing worked. Not a single CBT and psychotherapy provider was trained in neurodiversity, nor any of such treatments were tailored so.

Also, in my profession, I came across far too many medical and mental health practitioners with no appropriate neurodiversity training.

Conclusion: NHS (England and Wales's health system) has no suitable ways of supporting neurodiverse people.

But before telling you more about coaching, I wanted to discuss some important matters first. I know there is a lot of controversy regarding therapies and autism/ADHD.

Some see neurodivergence as a gift and identity. Others deem it as a disabling condition they would rather be 'cured' of. Some want to embrace and accept it. Others want to change it.

To me, autism and ADHD make me - me. I would not change it, but I would like to have support to manage it and, most importantly, understanding and acceptance.

Let us start by exploring the following subjects first:
  • What is neurodiversity

  • Neurodiversity Awareness

  • Neurodiversity Acceptance

  • What is the legal definition of disability

  • Disability Inclusion

  • Whether to embrace your neurodiversity or start changing things around? Or, in other words, is Autism/ADHD a gift or disability?

  • Coaching

green pastures with sheep
South Downs, Sussex by Dee Crute

What is neurodiversity

Many people say, "we are all on the spectrum".

Often causing upset or anger within Autism and ADHD community.

I myself was told this many a time - sometimes, people just tried to make me feel better and be awkwardly inclusive. Other times, they were dismissive of my struggles.

But actually, both sides are correct - semantically and scientifically speaking.

My coach drew me a diagram explaining this, which I am sharing here with you:

diagram showing neurocognitive spectrum

Not a single person has the same brain wiring, and thus we are all on the spectrum of neurocognitive abilities.

In the middle of the range lays what is now deemed as typical.

I will not agree nor disagree with this as it is a subject for another day.

Beyond this range are people who find some things harder than their neuro-typical folk, like working memory, emotional regulation, time perception, etc.

Neurodiversity and neurodivergence are often used interchangeably - but according to this definition, what is beyond the 'typical' range is neurodivergent, often called neuro-minority.

The most broadly known 'untypical' neurotypes are Autism, ADHD and dyslexia.

But it is so much more: dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and Tourette syndrome.

Intellectual disabilities, mental health and neurodegenerative conditions, and brain injury will also sit within neurodivergence.

Even Long-Covid causes similar symptoms as autism and ADHD.

green fields
Saddlescombe, West Sussex by Dee Crute

On Neurodiversity Awareness

To me, It means that society knows what neurodiversity is, what symptoms are, and what effect these conditions/differences have on a neurodivergent person.

It also involves the public sector having a knowledge and understanding of this. We talk about the criminal justice system, social care and, most importantly, the health care system.

*** Technical Bits ***

In England and Wales, Public Bodies answer to additional legislation. They must discharge positive obligations under Human Rights Act - right to life. For instance, the police may face an allegation of negligence in their duty of care to preserve life.

The medical profession has even more legal requirements stemming from the Hippocratic Oath and Declaration of Geneva. These are embedded in the General Medical Council's Good Medical Practice.

To summarise - or extremely condense it:

Do no harm. Keep up with your knowledge.

With the new investigative Channel 4 Programme Dispatches, "Locked Away: Our Autism Scandal" (Season 22, Episode 3), we have learned that this is not the case. Harm is being caused, and changes are protracted.

Neurodiversity acceptance

It is a movement promoting accepting that differences should not be corrected, dismissed or treated as deficits.

As much as I would love this to happen, that would involve slow changes in society's thinking, including unconscious bias.

This is not to say that it is a futile exercise.

No, we should, and we must promote this, with perseverance and acceptance that it will take time.

wooden gates against the sky
Sussex Downs by Dee Crute

On Disability

Is Autism or ADHD a disability?

This is a very personal matter.

It is, in fact, covered by legislation - and looking at the definition, it makes clear not everyone who lives with autism has a disability.

"You are disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

'Substantial' is more than minor or trivial, eg it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed
'long-term' means 12 months or more, eg a breathing condition that develops as a result of a lung infection"
Some conditions like multiple sclerosis are deemed as disability automatically."

That's why we should not generalise, as some people may feel very strongly that they are not disabled, whereas others feel that they are.

On Disability Inclusion

The inclusion is embedded in the Equality Act (UK), and in short, it goes this way:

  • Listening to the needs of a disabled person and making reasonable adjustments.

  • Being aware that disabled people are often isolated and face barriers in society or the workplace.

There are two crucial matters I want to highlight:

Making adjustments and creating an inclusive environment should not be a tick-box exercise or lip service.

s 13(3) of the Equality Act 2010 allows a disabled person to be treated more favourably than a non-disabled person when making reasonable adjustments.

In summary: inclusion is showing genuine care and understanding.

That's all, folks!

We shall continue in the next episode - Part 2 - where we will look into coaching!


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