You may be surprised but I wasn’t always a professional organiser. Once upon a time I was deep in the trenches of a teaching career, and dug even deeper in my role as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator. Although my actual job role was to ensure provisions were in place for those that needed them, I was more often than not, called on to support a child that was experiencing a difficult moment. These are the moments that I remember the most because helping those children navigate difficult times taught me so much about neurodiverse conditions and how to bring compassion, an open-mind and an open-heart every time they need support. Here are just a few things that I have learned.
1) Most people with a neurodiverse condition are VERY observant. Their brains are fantastic databases collecting information about what others say, how others act or react because it may be useful later on to help them understand or know how to deal with a difficult event that may present itself. They have the ability to spot really, teeny, tiny specific details that no one else would even see or notice. Just ask a neurodiverse person about something they have a special interest in, and the level of information they will be able to share will amaze you. It’s incredible!
2) Every person with a neurodiverse condition operates differently. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to how they deal with life situations. Each person will have some things that really annoy them and stop them from performing at their best but on the flip side, they will also have some things that really help them to be at their best. For instance, one neurodiverse person may need it to be perfectly silent to get on with things, and another may need background music to help them concentrate. Finding out what works for each person is such a key element to build their self-esteem and help them out.
3) Ideally, for every difficult encounter, argument or challenge, a person with a neuro-diverse condition would have lots of extra time to think about what’s happened and then decide how to respond. But we know that life doesn’t work like that, and there is rarely the opportunity for them to stop and ponder not only about how someone else is feeling but how that makes them feel, too. So, being able to give someone the time and space to feel safe and really listened to is super helpful. No judgment, just give the gift of time and be really curious.
4) You know that feeling when you discover something that you’re actually quite good at, AND you really enjoy? Having an ‘AH-HA moment’ like this for someone that is neurodiverse is so, so important. For most neurodiverse people, school is not the easiest, and often times, their confidence gets knocked because things can be hard. Now, think about how long one person spends going to school in their life, ten years at least! That’s a very long time for someone’s confidence to get battered and bashed so for them, being able to identify something THEY feel they are good at can provide a much-needed boost to their self-esteem.
5) Having information about big changes before they happen, and having the chance to ask any and all questions about it can be such a big help in supporting a person with neurodiversity. Take time to think hard about any changes that you know might be happening because something that seems small to you and I might seem mountainous to someone navigating neurodiversity. Winning at challenging situations again will really boost a neurodiverse person confidence and make them feel like they are ahead of the game. This is a huge boost for them because so often they feel like they are on the back foot in many situations. So, let’s get up the wins!
This list is only a fraction of what I have had the privilege of learning about neurodiversity, and I’m grateful that I continue to learn each and every day when I help others organise their home and their lives. The more compassion, open-mindedness and open-heartedness we can bring to all life situations but especially when supporting a neurodiverse person of their life journey will make things feel lighter. Who doesn’t want that?