~8% of people in the UK are thought to have ADHD.
~10% of people in the UK are thought to have dyslexia.
~8% of people in the UK are thought to have dyspraxia.
~6% of people in the UK are thought to have dyscalculia.
~1% of people in the UK are thought to have an autistic spectrum condition.
~1% of people in the UK are thought to have Tourette’s syndrome.
It is thought that as research develops, certain mental health conditions such as psychopathy, some personality disorders and schizophrenic conditions will come to be re-interpreted as having been diagnosed both in people who experience symptoms due to poor mental health and people who are experiencing neurodiversity and require different approaches to care.
An additional ~3% of the population are known to have generalised intellectual disability.
Some people believe that being generally intellectually gifted might be a form of neurodiversity, citing rare conditions like savant syndrome and hyperthymesia (highly superior autobiographical memory) as extreme examples of neurodiverse giftedness. https://adhdaware.org.uk
Autism affects the way a pupil perceives the world and how they interact with others. It's associated with challenges including social communication difficulties and sensory sensitivities.
Pupils with autism may have difficulty understanding both verbal and non-verbal language, communicating verbally, and expressing emotion. They may also experience sensory sensitivities, and encounter anxiety in response to change in routine. They can also be literal thinkers, and may find it difficult to follow instructions that aren't specific or focus excessively on tasks, or worries. Alongside their challenges, pupils with autism have many associated strengths. For example, a thorough, creative and attentive approach to tasks and problem solving; often with creative thinking and superb attention to detail. Routine and structure is important, so autistic individuals are often very punctual. They also have the ability to focus intensely on a given task. Often, they develop special interests. Their passion and enthusiasm in the topic can lead them to hold a high level of expertise.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a behavioural condition. It's associated with challenges including: the ability to control attention, impulse and concentration. Pupils with ADHD may experience hyperactivity and impulsiveness. They might become easily distracted and prone to being restless or fidgeting, often finding it difficult to maintain their focus. Pupils with ADHD may also be proactive and have the ability to work well under pressure. Other associated strengths include creativity, and the ability to think holistically. As well as resilience, which can often make them great leaders. Hyper-focus is also associated with ADHD; individuals that experience hyper-focus are driven by their interests. They're able to focus with deep concentration and energetic drive.
Dyslexia is a language processing difficulty. Pupils with dyslexia may experience challenges with aspects of reading and writing, such as spelling and proofreading. They may also experience difficulty processing information in their short-term memory. This can mean a difficulty in putting detail into order, as well as maintaining focus. They may also find it challenging to concentrate with background noise. Alongside challenges, dyslexia can also come with many strengths. For example, dyslexic minds process information visually. That means that they're often able to recognise patterns and see trends in data. They can discover connections that others have missed. Such strengths lend themselves to good problem solving abilities. They also have good verbal communication skills and are very detailed story-tellers. Dyslexic pupils can also bring out of the box, original thinking. They're often able to look at tasks with a holistic and creative approach.
Dyscalculia is a specific and persistent difficulty in understanding numbers which can lead to a diverse range of difficulties with mathematics. It will be unexpected in relation to age, level of education and experience and occurs across all ages and abilities.
Mathematics difficulties are best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and they have many causal factors. Dyscalculia falls at one end of the spectrum and will be distinguishable from other maths issues due to the severity of difficulties with number sense, including subitising, symbolic and non-symbolic magnitude comparison, and ordering. It can occur singly but often co-occurs with other specific learning difficulties, mathematics anxiety and medical conditions.
Dyspraxia is known as a Developmental Coordination Disorder. It's commonly associated with challenges related to movement, such as planning and processing motor tasks. Pupils with dyspraxia may have difficulty with physical coordination. They may present with general clumsiness, disorientation, and poor balance. This can cause difficulties in handwriting, typing, and aspects of physical work. Individuals with dyspraxia may also have difficulty organising the content and sequence of their language. Dyspraxia can also affect short term memory, causing difficulty in remembering tasks. Alongside challenges, dyspraxia can also lead to many strengths. For example, pupils with dyspraxia are often creative, holistic and strategic thinkers. They have very complex minds that excel at innovation and problem-solving. Individuals with dyspraxia often have high motivation and a determination to succeed. With a strong sense of empathy, they tend to have a good awareness of others; making them great team members.
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a condition of the nervous system. TS causes people to have “tics”. Tics are sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly.
Pupils who have tics cannot stop their body from doing these things. For example, a person might keep blinking over and over. Or, a person might make a grunting sound unwillingly. Having tics is a little bit like having hiccups. Even though you might not want to hiccup, your body does it anyway. Sometimes people can stop themselves from doing a certain tic for a while, but it’s hard. Eventually the person has to do the tic.
Challenges include becoming distracted by tics or by trying not to have a tic. In addition, because many people do not understand TS, children are sometimes teased or bullied by others. Generally, children with TS have the same intelligence range as other children.
Mental health difficulties can present throughout a lifespan, especially when the neurodiverse individual is fatigued, stressed, and unsupported or ignored. Some unique contributors to mental health and wellness for neurodiverse individuals include different expectations and opportunities, vulnerabilities, isolation, and stigma. Common co-occurring difficulties include anxiety, obsessive compulsive, and mood disorders. Neurodiverse individuals often present different symptoms and therefore psychometric testing can often be limited; many neurodiverse individuals are inaccurately diagnosed with behavioural, psychotic, or personality disorders, leading to increased mental health difficulties.
Neurodiverse individuals are at greater risk for experiencing trauma, which can also influence development. They are more likely to experience emotional neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and bullying. They are also subject to more traumatising incidents such as hospitalisations, out of home placements, physical restraints, and seclusion. Further, unrecognised and unsupported differences in neurodiverse individuals result in being continually misunderstood and mistreated.