Over the past year, employers from every section of society have been redoubling their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. Brands across the UK are successfully breaking down the barriers around gender, ethnicity, disability and sexuality. However, for the most part their efforts have stopped short of promoting neurodiversity.
Neurodiverse conditions encompass dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) and autism, including Asperger’s syndrome.
This means that neurodiveristy is by no means a rarity. Some 10% of the population have dyslexia, a learning difficulty that can result in problems with reading, writing and spelling. Of those, 4% are severely affected, according to the British Dyslexia Association.
Dyscalculia, characterised by impairments in learning basic arithmetic, processing numbers and performing accurate calculations, is thought to affect 5% of the population. The British Dyslexia Association reports that this number rises to 25% when the definition is widened to “mathematical learning difficulties”.
The information below is taken from A Practical Manual for Parents and Professionals by Madeleine Portwood and the Developmental Dyspraxia Foundation UK with their kind permission. Full details of the research and profiles of Dyspraxic children can be found in A Practical Manual for Parents and Professionals Behaviors 0 – 3 Years
There are many early indications that a child is dyspraxic and a summary is shown below:
- Irritable and difficult to comfort – from birth
- Feeding difficulties: milk allergies, colic, restricted diet
- Sleeping difficulties: problems establishing routine, requires constant adult reassurance
- Delayed early motor development: sitting unaided, rolling from side to side: do not usually go through the crawling stage
- High levels of motor activity: constantly moving arms and legs
- Repetitive behaviors: head banging or rolling
- Sensitive to high levels of noise
- Continued problems with development of feeding skills
- Toilet training may be delayed
- Avoids constructional toys such as jigsaws and Lego
- Delayed language development: single words not evident until age 3
- Highly emotional: easily distressed, frequent outbursts of uncontrolled behavior
- Concentration limited to 2 or 3 minutes on any task?
Compared to other specific learning difficulties, major research into dyspraxia – or developmental coordination disorder (DCD) as it is more formally known – has only begun fairly recently.
DCD is the term used to diagnose children who have motor skills substantially below what is expected for their age. They are not lazy, clumsy or unintelligent – in fact, their intellectual ability is in line with the general population – but they do struggle with everyday tasks that require coordination.
Take a typical boy with DCD: he is a bright and capable 10-year-old boy, but he struggles to tie his shoe laces and needs help to fasten the buttons on his school shirt. He can’t ride a bike and no one passes him the ball when he plays sports. His teacher has told his parents that while he is a clever and very able student, his handwriting is slow and difficult to read. He finds it hard to keep up in class or to complete his homework – and his performance at school is deteriorating.