neurodiversity

Neurodiversity: Awareness, Compassion and Accommodation

As a practitioner who understands and works with high sensitivity, it’s important for me to keep learning about neurodiversity. I realize that I need to expand my knowledge and understanding in order to help in the best way possible.

High sensitivity is generally viewed under the umbrella of neurodiversity. HSPs process information differently, our brains work differently. There’s much talk these days of neurodiversity and inclusion, thankfully. More and more are becoming aware of the high sensitivity trait and that’s amazing and awesome.

There are other experiences under that neurodivergence umbrella, like ADHD, autism and dyslexia. And we’re all just different in how we see the world. That’s a given.

Good, bad, neutral?

It’s important to realize or remember, that having differences in processing does not mean lacking or being wrong or abnormal. It’s also necessary to recognize that with these differences come benefits and bonuses, things that help not only the neurodivergent but all of humanity.

One thing to be aware of as we’re interacting with or helping in a professional capacity is that what we see and do and assume might not be so for others. Some things that seem obvious to us may not be considered by others. Some things that help or soothe us might actually trigger or annoy or otherwise bother those with certain processing styles or life experiences.

neurodiversity

For many, closing our eyes to meditate or breathe deeply or tune out the immediate environment is very helpful in shifting into a calmer state. For some, perhaps with a trauma background or different perceptual experiences, this can be very unsettling or scary or may even trigger an escape response.

To some, the sound of a bell chiming at the end of a guided meditation or time of journaling is subtle and nice and helps to shift states of consciousness. For others the sound can be jolting or at least discordant.

Some people are quite visual and can easily imagine and create internal visual landscapes, or identify colors or images for parts of their bodies or sensations. Not so for others. If we ask someone to visualize something and they’re just not visual…they don’t readily bring up an image, this can be frustrating and even lead to feeling less than or wrong.

It’s easy to maintain biases, because we live within them. We operate according to what we think and believe and it can be challenging to consider something other, something different than we experience. A way to shift this is to be aware that we’re all different and might not have a clear picture about another’s perception, and what helps and doesn’t.

Compassion and Accommodation for Neurodiversity

Here are some thoughts we can keep in mind when working with or among others who may have different ways of perceiving:

1.Check our language. Metaphors or jokes might make perfect sense for some, but not necessarily for everyone. Cultural cliches might be completely lost on those not within that group. Being clear and direct helps get our message across with less opportunity for confusion. 

2. Pay attention to the surrounding environment. Are the sounds, lighting and activity level mild enough to not offend or disturb others.

3. Offer different ways of connecting and communicating. Texting, emails, phone calls and video chats, even written correspondence, all serve a purpose but aren’t all appreciated nor navigated equally well by everyone. Allow folks to choose what works best for them.

4. Don’t assume, anything. You know the adage, “To assume makes an @** out of u and me.”

One simple example: When people make a comment or joke based upon a tv series, I’m completely out of the loop. I don’t watch tv, at all. I have no frame of reference for some people’s comments…it’s like hearing a foreign language, but they assume I would understand because everyone has seen that series, right? Nope.

5. Ask! Take the initiative to ask how something is working for someone and if there’s anything that would make things easier or more enjoyable, make more sense, alleviate stress. Neurotypical folks may not be able to see or guess how the neurodivergent experience things.

It’s important for us as helpful, compassionate human beings to put ourselves in others’ shoes. This is particularly important for accommodating everyone within the neurodiversity arena. Everyone is unique and special and part of what makes humanity amazing and the world keep functioning.

If you’d like a little guidance in accepting yourself as highly sensitive or whatever your uniqueness is that’s feeling like a struggle, please reach out. I’m here for you.

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