The secret mental health crisis for neurodivergent children and their families
We have a massive mental health crisis in the uk.
Government accountability and so much money wasted
(Health) CAMHS(Children's mental health service) are over subscribed and at breaking point
(Health) NHS is on its knees
(Health) The Government do not provide local commission groups the funding or resources to commission appropriate services
(Health) LAs do not recieve enough funding from the government
(Health) Social services are under funded.
There are lots of independent children's charities trying to fill the gaps
Schools are completely and utterly over whelmed with a high focus on academic achievement and relay on the local authority in terms of additional funding through Education and #Health care plans.
The #media cover mental health but its rarely covers neurodivergent people.
Lets talk about HEALTH
To be healthy means many things.
It isnt just cleaning teeth and getting a good night sleep or eating a balanced diet.
Its so much more than that.
To be healthy is to be happy. Simple.
I wish it was.
I have seen the effect on Joe when his identity is not acknowledged and he feels he cant be authentic autistic self
Lets allow this thought to sink in.
He cant be his authentic autisitc self
A large proportion of children young/ people including adults are Neurodivergent.
What do we mean by this new and empowering term?
Neurodivergent is a term that I came across whilst reading
Notes on the Neurodiversity Paradigm, Autistic Empowerment, and Postnormal Possibilities By Queer autisitc scholar Nick walker. Neuroqueer Heresies:
Text credited to Toward a Neuroqueer Future: An Interview with Nick Walker | Autism in Adulthood (liebertpub.com)
"Nick Walker is a queer autistic professor of psychology, a cofounder of the worker-owned publishing house Autonomous Press, a long time participant in autistic culture whose ideas have influenced the emergent fields of neurodiversity studies and critical autism theory, and a transdisciplinary scholar whose work explores the intersections of neurodiversity, embodiment, queer theory, and transformative practice"
Neurodivergent means when a persons brain/mind/body significantly diverges from the majority. For example and this is not an exhaustive list. Autism, Including, PDA, Tourette's, OCD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, ADHD or as Nick walker suggests "Kinetic Cognitive Style, or KCS; (I'm not a fan of the “ADHD” label because it stands for “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” and the terms “deficit” and “disorder” absolutely reek of the pathology paradigm. I've frequently suggested replacing it with the term Kinetic Cognitive Style, or KCS; whether that particular suggestion ever catches on or not, I certainly hope that the ADHD label ends up getting replaced with something less pathologizing."
Back to Jenny
Historically and up to present day all of the above neurodivergences are known under the Pathology paradigm as Medical "conditions" or "Disorders." In other words the medical profession and all who work with the child are working under the pathology paradigm.
What is the pathology paradigm.
The term pathology paradigm was first coined by Nick Walker as mentioned above
Firstly a Paradigm is a set of fundamental principles, ideology that influences a mind set, approach, attitudes, narrative and opinions on a particular subject.
The Pathology paradigm(Pathology meaning medical) works under the belief that
Identity/neurodivergence is seen as a "Disorder" or "Condition" and under the pathology paradigm all who work under the pathology paradigm believe that there is only one "Normal" measuring all children against the same model of normal and anyone outside of "normal" is seen as "abnormal" and by using certain therapies such as ABA,PBS and interventions to change "behaviour" is therefore working under the fundamental principles of the pathology paradigm
All content in EHCPs, my plans and any other documentation used under the SEN register is focused on the "Deficits' what strategies can be used to train the child to change their behaviour.
The pathology paradigm seems to be saying..... what can we do about these people not being "normal"
The Neurodiversity paradigm
Text below, credited to Toward a Neuroqueer Future: An Interview with Nick Walker | Autism in Adulthood (liebertpub.com)
"The neurodiversity paradigm starts from the understanding that neurodiversity is an axis of human diversity, like ethnic diversity or diversity of gender and sexual orientation, and is subject to the same sorts of social dynamics as those other forms of diversity—including the dynamics of social power inequalities, privilege, and oppression. From this perspective, the pathologization of neurominorities can be recognized as simply another form of systemic oppression which functions similarly to the oppression of other types of minority groups".
Just as the prevailing culture entrains and pushes people into the embodied performance of heteronormative gender roles, it also entrains and pushes us into the embodied performance of neurotypicality—the performance of what the dominant culture considers a “normal” bodymind. And just as heteronormativity can be queered, so can neurotypicality: we can subvert, disrupt, and deviate from the embodied performance of being neurocognitively “normal.” That's neuroqueering (or being neuroqueer).6,32
When I say that a future society that's been transformed by the neurodiversity paradigm would be a neuroqueer society, what I mean is that in such a society there would be no such thing as neurotypicality, no such thing as a “normal mind.” It would be commonplace for people to regard their own minds and embodiments as fluid and customizable, as canvases for ongoing creative experimentation, in much the same way that more and more people are doing with their genders. I should note here that part of the idea of neuroqueerness is that heteronormativity and neurotypicality are inextricably entwined with one another, and to queer one is inevitably to queer the other to some degree. In addition to embracing both gender-fluidity and neurofluidity, a neuroqueer culture would recognize gender-fluidity
and neurofluidity as being entwined and as synergistically interacting with one another.
End of text
please go to Toward a Neuroqueer Future: An Interview with Nick Walker | Autism in Adulthood (liebertpub.com) to read the interview in full. She(Nick) is a power house of information.
Back to Jenny
The Neurodiversity paradigm is the exact opposite of the Pathology paradigm in that anyone working under the TNP works from the fundamental principles based on opportunities to embrace difference, autisitc culture, that there is much to be learnt. Creativity and their neurodivergence is not described as a "deficits" or "symptoms"(language used under the Pathology Paradigm) and do not believe "curing "or "treating" the persons neurodivergence.
The narrative, mindset approach evidences empowerment, validation and a strong sence of self and autonomy of their own decisions and identity.
A strong focus on children learning about their brain/mind/body and central nervous sytem as a neurodivergent human being. Crucial in terms of sensory processing, advocacy, confidence, self esteem, assessing risk, learning to say no to uncomfortable situations or harmful environments. Safeguarding. This benifits are endless.
When we compare the language used under the pathology paradigm and the neurodiversity paradigm, we need to take a very serious look at the impact that this having on our children's #mentalhealth and how they are being taught to feel about themselves as humans beings and how they are valuing their neurodivergence and how others value them. Teachers, TAs wider network of proffessionals, across education, HEALTH and social care, their peers, the wider community.
In comparison to the pathology paradigm the neurodiversity paradigm is asking.... what can we do about this minority group being oppressed, marginalised and discriminated against?.
Which one reinforces/supports and harnesses positive mental health do you think?
Some of these humans will not have had the privilege of obtaining a diagnosis. Some of them may go through their whole lives not understanding their neurodivergent identity.
Some of this group will have gone through ABA, PBT and "Intervention" therapy.
Some of this group will have been referred to CAMHS either for "anxiety" "behavioural difficulties"
Some of this group will have been discharged for "not being able to engage"
Some of this group wont be able to access due to being autisitc/neurodivergent
This is why most of the IEPs, My plans and EHCP are focused on what behaviour adults want to change by training/strategies and interventions, by training that person either through general conditioning/compliance/ABA/PBT/intervention strategies from early years to which we are all exposed to as a population in western cultures and can be extremely harmful causing trauma and PTSD hence a referral into CAMHS for neurodivergent children and young people
What does neuronormative mean?
Neuronormative is, one way of being, based on one model, whereby anything outside of that model is seen as not "Normal" and can therefore be marginalised, oppressed or discriminated against or pathologized for not fitting into to a model of what other people think "normal" should look like. In essence being able to conform and comply in a way that the general population can relate too in thinking, feeling, and behaving to meet neuronormative/neurotypical expectations when the persons brain /mind functions in a way that does not significantly impact on their central nervous sytem and does not impact on their day to day life.
Of course in reality and as a species we are all uniquely different from one another and this is called Neurodiversity.
Text credited to Toward a Neuroqueer Future: An Interview with Nick Walker | Autism in Adulthood (liebertpub.com)
"Neurodiversity, simply put, is the diversity among human minds. For 15 years or so after the term was coined, it was common for people to speak of neurodiversity as “diversity among brains.”
There still are plenty of people who talk about it that way. I think this is a mistake; it's an overly reductionist and essentialist definition that's decades behind present-day understandings of how human bodyminds4 work.
Mind is an embodied phenomenon. The mind is encoded in the brain as ever-changing webs of neural connectivity. The brain is part of the body, interconnected with the rest of the body by a vast network of nerves.
The activity of the mind and body creates changes in the brain; changes in the brain affect both mind and embodiment. Mind, brain, and embodiment are intricately entwined in a single complex system
We're not minds riding around in bodies, we're bodyminds.4
A lot of people hear neuro and they think, brain. But the prefix neuro doesn't mean brain, it means nerve.
The neuro in neurodiversity is most usefully understood as a convenient shorthand for the functionality of the whole bodymind and the way the nervous system weaves together cognition and embodiment.
So neurodiversity refers to the diversity among minds, or among bodyminds".
End of text.
Back to Jenny
You cant have Neurodiversity by the way. This is when pople misunderstand the term.
Joe doesnt have autism
As an alternative a person might say......
I am autisitc or I am an autistic person. This is my identity
I am a neurodivergent person. This is my identity.
In my case my neurodivergence is ADHD and my neurodivergence is the state of being neurodivergent.
There are lots of different ways a person can be neurodivergent.
Autistic, PDA, ADHD, DLearning Disability, OCD, Tourette's, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, dyscalculia Again, as stated above this is not an exhaustive list. There are lots of different ways a person can be neurodivergent.
We are living in an age were language is become a leading tool in how humans would like to be addressed and respected. We have the neurodiversity movement to thank for this including another once marginalised and minority group. LGBTQIA+
however in terms of neurodivergence we are still very much in the dark ages.
Identity should be validated across all minority groups.
I am apposed to (ABA)Applied Behavioural therapy) or (PBA) Positive behavioural therapy) or intervention therapy. This is another area in which people are being instructed to mess about with neurodivergent cognitive wiring. Imagine deciding to mess about with a neurotypicals cognitive wiring to behave like a neurodivergent person!! they'd be hell to pay.
Right this next statement is written very sensitively and respectfully.
The majority of people from with the child's network may come from a neurotypical/neuronormative/ perspective and not as a neurodivergent person. Scrap that, some maybe in fact neurodivergent themselves and are being directed by their employer. Yes we do exist in the workplace!!
This word is doing the rounds at the movement and triggers my very sole.
"We must teach children to be resilient because we cant afford the alternative.
It is cheaper for us to train the child to change their identity so we dont have to support them or validate them as neurodivergent humans
So we will do everything we can to train change, oppress and make these children feel that they do not function properly or have a place on our planet unless they conform to our model of being/existing/ and eventually after much trauma, medication and probably be diagnosed incorrectly with a personality disorder or schizophrenia.
Then, if that doesnt work we can secure them under the mental health act for their own good because we feel they dont have capacity."
Is this what success look like for neurodivergent people?
Joe had to have 3 years of therapy due to Trauma and ptsd and remains a vital part of his support package to thrive
3 years of additional funding from Health that should not have been needed as the trauma had nothing to do with being neurodivergent/autistic it had everything to do with his neurodivergent identity not being acknowledged and as referenced above, due to the pathology Paradigm. and his past setting not understanding his identity and sensory processing.
There has to be a better economic model.
So much money is being wasted on crisis management instead of preventing crisis and empowering our neurodivergent children and young people.
So many children not being enabled to go to school.
So many children being excluded from school
So many children being placed in isolation booths
So many parents having to give up work
So many parents having to sell their houses for private assessments
So many parents with trauma and PTSD
This is happening TO children /young people and their families which has nothing to do with their neurodivergence and every thing to do with the government not investing in neurodivergent humans.
#mentalhealth #sensoryprocessing #neurodivergent #neurodivergence #neurodiversity
#identiy #empowerment #validation #freedom