Neurodiverse means "showing patterns of thought or behaviour that are different from those of most people, though still part of the normal range in humans".
The word neurodiversity refers to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other neurological, developmental conditions, and / or learning differences. This page aims to point you towards sources of support, information and resources that may be helpful to you or your loved one.
Each person has a brain that is unique to them; no two brains are quite alike and some people’s brains simply work in a different way. These differences should be understood, accepted and embraced as part of the colourful and wonderful diverse world we live in, rather than cured or fixed. Although it's important to know, many neurodiverse people face many challenges, judgement and barriers in life, living in a world that has been created around neurotypical norms. Simply, they may have different needs. Therefore, they may require extra support, assistance, and most importantly understanding (of themselves and from others).
Sadly, owing to this lack of awareness and access to support, many neurodiverse people face exclusion from school, employment and / or socially. It's extremely common to have comorbid mental health conditions like anxiety, OCD and depression as an outcome of the struggles of living as a neurodiverse person.
What is classed as a Neurodiversity?
“Neurodivergent” isn’t a medical term, condition or diagnosis. People who are neurodivergent have differences in the way their brain works. People who identify themselves as neurodivergent typically have one or more of the conditions or disorders listed below. People with these conditions may also choose not to identify themselves as neurodivergent.
- Autism spectrum disorder (this includes what was once known as Asperger’s syndrome).
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Dyscalculia (difficulty with math).
- Dysgraphia (difficulty with writing).
- Dyslexia (difficulty with reading).
- Dyspraxia (difficulty with coordination).
- Tourette syndrome.
- Sensory processing disorders.
- Acquired Brain Injury.
- Intellectual disabilities.
- Some mental health conditions
Neurodiversity in Northern Ireland
Access to support and diagnosis in Northern Ireland is difficult to get. Statutory services are overwhelmed and have huge waiting times which can be really frustrating when you have reached out for support.
Using Autism as an example, in Northern Ireland, 1 in 21 children have a diagnosis of autism (2022, Prevalence of Autism in School aged children, DHSSPS). It was estimated in 2021 that almost 4,500 children in Northern Ireland have been recorded as waiting for an autism assessment - and there could be more. Thousands of children with suspected autism are waiting over two years to get a diagnosis so that they can access services (Belfast City Motion: Waiting Lists for Diagnosing Autism in Children - Response from Minister of Health)
Figures from the NI Census 2021 has recorded that there are 35,367 adults and children with an autism diagnosis in Northern Ireland. The Census figures recorded 5.25% of 0-14 year olds have a diagnosis of autism, compared to 0.32% of 40-64 year olds (2022, Census 2021 main statistics for Northern Ireland phase 2, NISRA) which indicates that there could be a huge number of undiagnosed adults, as there are many adults who do not yet have a formal diagnosis of autism.
The good news is that there are lots of great voluntary, community and charity organisations that do provide information, advice and support which you can find in our Directory "Find Help Near Me"
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- The Reason I Jump - One boy's voice from the silence of Autism, an account of life as a autistic child, Written by Naoki Higashida
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - a story of a 15yr old boy and how his autistic mind works, Written by Mark Haddon
- Can you see me? - An account of life written by an 11 year old autistic girl, written by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott.
- Taking Off The Mask - Practical exercises to help understand and minimise the effects of Autistic Camouflaging or Masking, Written by Hannah Louise Belcher.
- More Coming Soon... Got a suggestion? Please let us know at the bottom of this page!
- What is Neurodiversity? - Counselling Psychologist Stephen Munt introduces us to Neurodiversity supported by client insights. We also hear from an individual who has faced and overcome challenges with her Neurodiversity and differences.
- What Exactly is Neurodiversity? - The neurodiversity movement has been around for some time, but what exactly is it? In this video, How to ADHD talk about what the neurodiversity movement is and how it's linked to the autistic community.
- Neurodiversity: The New Normal | Cynthia Coupé | TEDxOcala - In this talk, Speech Language Pathologist Cynthia Coupe, MA, CCC-SLP describes what neurodiversity is, and what happens when neurodivergent individuals are not supported by society.
- More Coming Soon! Do you have any suggestions? Join the Conversation at the bottom of this page!
Find Help Near You - Neurodiversity
There are many support agencies in Northern Ireland who specialise in providing support to support people to live a more fulfilled and content life. Everyone is different and some people may benefit from increasing their social interaction, gaining employment, counselling or becoming more active outdoors. Browse our directory to find local organisations to explore and consider reaching out.
We currently do not accept requests for ongoing support from us.
Instead, please browse or search our directory to find the most appropriate service for your needs to ensure you
get the best support possible.
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