Just like the beautiful colors in a rainbow, there are so many cultures, religions, races, orientations, and beliefs to be aware of and celebrate. And as we become more aware of all of this beautiful diversity, we can share and teach our children about how to accept the diversity within themselves, our own family, and those around us.
What is Neurodiversity?
In addition to our cultural diversity in the community in which we live, if you are a family like mine, one of the things that we are aware of and discuss is neurodiversity. Simply put, this is the fact that all brains and minds are different, just like there is not one snowflake that is the same. Some brains have stronger visual or verbal skills. Some have musical talents, an affinity for sports, or the ability to do a math equation without writing anything down on paper. And some brains have challenges in these areas or lagging skills in other areas that affect academics or social or life skills. Neurodiversity describes how we all are different from a neurological perspective and that we need to accept all brains as a part of humanity (from Beyond Behavior, Mona Delahooke), not just the ones that excel in the areas that society calls out as “better” or “brighter” with grades and awards.
The Legacy of Neurodiverse Brains
Steve Silberman writes in his book Neuro-Tribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, “Neurodiversity advocates propose that instead of viewing this gift as an error of nature—a puzzle to be solved—society should regard it as a valuable part of humanity’s genetic legacy.”
This realization and belief are so important for all children, not just those who are neurological diverse. We can teach our children that everyone has different strengths to contribute to the world we live in. If we didn’t have diverse brains in this world, we wouldn’t have inventions, businesses, leaders, doctors, movies, music, art, and sports to watch developed by people such as Thomas Edison, Temple Grandin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Gavin Newsom, Nelson Rockefetter, Ben Carson, Charles Schwab, William Hewlett, Bill Gates, Tony Bennett, Harry Belafonte, Adam Levine, William Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Vince Vaughn, Magic Johnson, Michael Phelps, and many more.
Shining a Light on Your Child’s Strengths and Abilities
As parents, we can have a tendency to focus on what is not going well or what is “different” than what we see in society. This can be detrimental to our children if we are constantly pointing out what they might be struggling with or “lacking.”
Although it might take a conscious effort to identify and/or focus on your child’s strengths on a daily basis, it is an essential ingredient to build your child’s skills in other areas and help them thrive. (And a huge bonus is that it helps to strengthen your relationship with your child.)
To help you get started, here are three questions to ask yourself:
Now, write down three core positive traits or strengths to focus on with your child:
Attached is a chart with a list of words to help you brainstorm and identify your child’s superpowers AND a list of ways to reframe some of the negative words that might come up from time to time.
Once we become aware of what neurodiversity is and all of the benefits, it’s easy to accept and can move forward with a focus on strengths and celebrations. Doesn’t that sound like more fun and a better place to be with your thoughts and relationships with your child? Join the movement to make our world one where we celebrate diversity of all kinds, including all of the beautiful and diverse minds.
Some steps to take action right now are: