Autism misconceptions – empathy.

Hi everyone and welcome back to Neureco. Today’s post is about a popular misconception about autism: ‘autistic people have no empathy’.

It is true that autistic people can struggle with interpreting and processing both verbal and non verbal information and cues but that doesn’t mean that autistic people don’t have empathy.

Some autistic people may struggle to recognise different emotions but autistic people do have empathy. Some autistic people are able to recognise emotions and empathise with them but they can struggle with what to do with these emotions or how to react with them. Some autistic people have empathy and may find it easier than other autistic people to react to or interpret these feelings and respond to them.

Because autism is a spectrum disorder, all autistic people will have different experiences of empathy but no matter what those experiences are, autistic people do have empathy.

The stick drawing above demonstrates how I experience empathy. I can recognise people’s emotions but I often find myself taking time to think about how to react and how to respond to that person. For example if someone is feeling upset, I wonder whether it is right to comfort them with words or to give them a hug. I often worry about what to say when responding to someone’s emotions because I don’t want to say the wrong thing and upset anyone further.

Thank you very much for reading and please share your experiences of empathy, neurodiverse and neurotypical alike!

Charlotte from Neureco X

Neurodiversity and Driving.

Hi everyone! Today’s blog post is about driving with neurodiverse conditions.

Like most people at my age I was eager to learn how to drive, especially because all of my peers were doing it. I decided that I would hold off learning to drive until my gap year because I was the younger end of my school year so I would be turning 17 then going straight into year 13 and sitting A-Level exams and I didn’t want to be learning to drive on top of that.

When I received my ADHD diagnosis when I was 16, my CAMHS consultant let me borrow a book about ADHD and living with it. There was a section about driving and learning to drive. The book recommended that people with ADHD should be medicated to drive and should inform the DVLA of their diagnosis. When it came to applying for my provisional driver’s licence, I learnt that you didn’t have to inform the DVLA about Autism, ADHD or Anxiety if you felt that it wouldn’t affect your ability to drive.

Because I have severe ADHD, I thought it would be best to be suitably medicated and to tell the DVLA about my conditions.

Once I had applied for and received my provisional license, the next task was to find an instructor. I strongly recommend that if you have any neurodiverse conditions which you feel would affect your ability to drive, try looking for a disability driving instructor at: https://www.disabilitydrivinginstructors.com/find-an-instructor/

You can type in your local area and use the drop box options so you can find an instructor who is aware of your needs and disabilities and you can specify if the car needs adaptations. I found my driving instructor through this website and I have had a positive experience in my lessons so far. I am learning in an automatic for the time being because I felt that it would be too much with everything such as checking mirrors constantly and looking for hazards without having to worry about gears so driving in an automatic means I can concentrate on what I am doing and looking out for hazards without having to worry about changing gears or stalling the car.

One problem I have faced which will hopefully be resolved in the future is COVID-19. National lockdowns mean that driving instructors are not allowed to do lessons so as restrictions have changed, my lessons have been on and off. (This is nobody’s fault of course!)

Luckily, I have been able to practise a bit in my mum’s car. I got myself some L plates to put on her car and I have the odd drive to places. So hopefully when lessons resume, I will have had some practise in.

I have has so much fun learning to drive so far, even though I have only really started quite recently. I’m glad that there are instructors out there who understand neurodiverse conditions and how it can affect a person’s ability to drive.

Thank you very much for reading!

Charlotte from Neureco X

Extra curricular sport and neurodiversity.

Hi everyone! Today’s post is sort of a follow on from my last post which was about sport and PE in school and neurodiversity. This post is about sports outside of school, college and uni.

Sports can be fantastic for your physical and mental health, whether you’re neurodiverse or neurotypical. However, sometimes aspects of neurodiversity mean that we struggle to participate in sports.

For example, neurodiverse people may have lower muscle tones or reduced upper body and core strength which may mean that they find physical activities tricker than their neurotypical peers. Also those with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia may have trouble with balance and coordination which are often required for sporting activities. Neurodiverse people are capable of doing sports and physical activities, but they have to work harder than their neurotypical peers due to these physical aspects being affected by their neurodiverse conditions.

The social aspect can also be challenging for neurodiverse people. Those who have Autism, for example, may find sporting activities which involve communication difficult. Those with Dyslexia and/or Dyspraxia may feel self-conscious due to their apparent clumsiness/difficulties with balance and coordination therefore this may discourage them from doing sporting activities.

Throughout my life, I have done many extra curricular sporting activities outside of school. Many years ago (as demonstrated by the drawing) I took dance classes. I mainly did ballet and tap. The dance school I used to attend would do an annual dance show at the local secondary school. These shows were always filmed so we could have a copy of them on DVD. Watching these DVDs back makes me realise how much I struggled with dancing possibly due to my Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, undiagnosed at the time. I also struggled with the social aspects of the classes. I began dancing from a very young age when I had not long become verbal. Also because of my differences, I did face negative attitudes from other students. Thankfully, the teachers at the dance school were very laid-back, positive and accepting people. I began to grow bored of dancing (possibly due to my ADHD) and I left after about three years.

Not long after leaving dancing, I began karate and mixed martial arts. I found that because I was at such a young age, I found social interaction slightly easier as I was less self-conscious, shy and awkward. I thoroughly enjoyed doing karate and mixed martial arts. I continued at the club for around five and a half years. Within that time, I was able to earn my 1st Dan black belt. However, me and my family felt that my difficulties were not fully understood at karate and the three day black belt grading resulted in me developing post traumatic stress disorder, particularly due to the two hours of strenuous fitness and exercise which I dreaded because of my limited upper body and core strength and the fact I got easily tired after a certain amount of exercise. Although these factors caused me to leave my first club, I was able to join another club where I would be able to continue wearing my black belt and working towards a second black belt in Shotokan Karate. When GCSEs came, I decided it would be best to have a break. Karate did provide me with many benefits. I have seen numerous articles and been told by one of the medical professionals I see about the benefits of martial arts for those with neurodiverse conditions. In fact, NAKMAS National Governing Body actively promote martial arts for abled and disabled people especially those with Autism and two people on the NAKMAS National Management Committee are autistic. You can read more on their website at: https://nakmas.org.uk/about

Nowadays, I am doing yoga over Zoom during lockdown. I love how relaxing yoga is, I always feel better after a yoga session.

Thank you very much for reading and please share your experiences of sports as a neurodiverse person.

Charlotte from Neureco X

Physical Education and Neurodiversity.

Happy Monday everyone!

Today I wanted to talk about the experiences people with neurodiverse conditions have when taking part in physical activity.

I will focus today’s post about PE in school, I will write another post about sports and physical activity for recreation or competition.

School was quite an ‘interesting‘ time, let’s say, when it came to PE.

In primary school I did struggle with PE and sport. I remember on sports day I had no issue with running the sprint but when I was given a sack or a hoop to skip with, I majorly slowed down trying to coordinate my arms and legs (because of dyspraxia) and when to jump through the hoop without tripping and falling over, as I often did in primary school.

I found in school that PE was almost always dominated with competitive, team sports. I didn’t enjoy competitive sports because I always thought that I would be no good as I struggle to throw and catch a ball and use a bat in rounders. I felt like people would judge me or that I would let them down.

Sensory aspects of PE also didn’t help much. People would shout and scream and being in a large, echoey sports hall made that worse due to my heightened sense of sound. Sports halls always have bright lights as well which can make it difficult to concentrate and see what’s happening.

I found that when I got to sixth form though that I began actually looking forward to PE. I was very fortunate that at the school I attended, we were allowed to choose sports and physical activities from a list which consisted of sports which can be done for leisure as well as competitive sports. The school’s aim was to introduce us to and allow us to choose sporting activities which we may carry on in our adult lives and help us to keep fit and healthy when we have left school.

It was because of this system that I got into indoor rock climbing which I enjoyed. I also found that it is probably doing me good. Because of my neurodiverse conditions, I have low core strength and very little upper body strength but as rock climbing challenges this, I feel that I will be able to develop these strengths. I also discovered activities that I enjoy in the gym. Although the gym can be an overwhelming sensory experience due to certain smells, loud music and machinery, bright lights, etc. I found that I enjoyed using cycling and rowing machines.

One thing I hope changes is how PE is done in schools and that with neurodiverse conditions can feel included.

If possible, it would be awesome for schools to allow pupils to choose from a selection of sporting activities which include both team and individual sports and sports for leisure as well as competition.

Making PE staff aware of neurodiverse conditions and ensuring that they develop an understanding of the fact that neurodiverse conditions can affect people physically meaning that they may not have as much core or upper body strength as their neurotypical peers. PE teachers should also be aware of sensory processing issues and how this can impact the experience of PE classes for individuals with neurodiverse conditions.

Sports is beneficial both physically and mentally, it is important that it becomes something that as many schoolchildren as possible look forward to rather than dread.

Thank you very much for reading!

Charlotte from Neureco X

Autism diagnosis and gender

Hi everyone!

Today I have decided to talk about the autism diagnosis process and what it means for males and females.

I received my autism diagnosis when I was 11 years old. It is often that boys are diagnosed at an earlier age than girls are. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. The diagnostic criteria used was built up with research findings . Most research into autism has been carried out on boys rather than girls.
  2. Girls are naturally more sociable than boys therefore autism is less obvious in girls.
  3. Girls are better at masking their differences therefore their autistic traits are not always picked up.

Thankfully nowadays autism is picked up at younger ages because there is more awareness of autism among society and the medical profession.

However some people may still be misdiagnosed or not picked up. There is a chance that if more research is carried out on girls and women, females may be diagnosed at younger ages in the future which will mean that they will receive help and support earlier in their lives.

Thank you very much for reading!

Charlotte from Neureco X

UK Lockdown #3.

Hi everyone.

The UK has gone into its third national lockdown and I thought it would be nice to share a few positive thoughts and actions.

I’ve made a small list (pictured above) of positive things to think about.

  1. There is less uncertainty with this lockdown because we have been through two previously so we roughly know what’s going to happen. With the first lockdown there was so much uncertainty but as we know what it’s all about now, it’s a bit less stressful this time round.
  2. The new vaccine in the UK is being rolled out at the minute which will hopefully get us back to some normality 👍
  3. There’s plenty of stuff to do at home. For example, plenty of TV shows and films to watch on streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ and reading books.

It’s also nice to have a rough routine for example taking up an online course. Also practising some self care is very important at times like this, for example going on a walk in the local area with other people from your house, or with any pets you have.

Hopefully soon there will be more certainty and normality and we will all be able to meet each other again and share hugs! 🤗

Charlotte from Neureco X

Grunya Sukhareva – a pioneer of Autism.

Happy new year everyone!

Today I thought I would write about Grunya Sukhareva, an incredible woman who did pioneering research into autism.

Sukhareva was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1891. She worked in a psychiatric hospital there between 1917 – 1921. She relocated to Moscow in 1921 and this was where she met and observed six boys who inspired her to write a detailed description of the signs and symptoms of autism. She was the first person to publish this. It was originally published in Russian, then into German a year later and then into English in 1996.

In 1935, she founded a Faculty of Pediatric Psychiatry in the Central Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education. She also spent much time working as a councillor and the leader of the Psychiatric Hospital of Kashchenko in Moscow.

The Moscow Scientific and Practical Center for Mental Health of Children and Adolescents was named after her by the Moscow Department of Health. The centre is devoted to the care and treatment of those under the age of 18 in suicidal states.

One of the possible reasons as to why her work was never cited by Hans Asperger was due to her Jewish heritage and the fact that Hans Asperger had been affiliated with the Nazi Party.

Thank you very much for reading this.

Charlotte from Neureco x

(information came from Wikipedia and https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/history-forgot-woman-defined-autism/)

What causes autism?


Hi everyone, today’s post is about the causes of autism.

Over time, there have been many misconceptions about the causes of autism and it’s important that these myths are not taken to be fact.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition, it is not an illness or disease.

Autism is not the result of bad parenting or vaccinations. The truth is that those with Autism Spectrum Disorder are born that way therefore environmental factors do not cause it.

For example during the late 1990s, a British medical professional made a claim that there was a link between Autism and the MMR vaccination which led to controversial research. This also deterred people from having their children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella which resulted in a rise in cases of these illnesses. In truth, there is absolutely no link between the MMR vaccination and autism and the medical professional who made this claim was struck of the UK medical register and is no longer allowed to practise medicine.

To this day, professionals are not exactly sure what causes autism. Although it is likely that there are genetic/hereditary factors. I know of people who do have multiple family members with autism. This is possibly true of other neurodiverse conditions such as dyslexia.

Thank you very much for reading this because it is so important that these myths are exposed for what they truly are (lies) and that the truth about the cause of autism is told.

Charlotte from Neureco x

Autism, Special Interests and ADHD.

Hi everyone, I hope you have all had a great Christmas!

My blog post today is going to focus on special interests.

People on the Autism Spectrum often have fixations/intense/special interests in certain things and topics. When our minds have an idea, we often get stuck on them and they circulate around in our heads. When these ideas are positive, they are often known as special interests and one of the best things I personally find about being on the Autism Spectrum.

Special interests could be in anything such as a type of music, a TV show, collecting something, crafts, reading or a specific activity, the list could go on! :D. The picture at the top shows some of my special interests such as Geography, Doctor Who, The Mighty Boosh, books and reading, the Britpop era, Minecraft, Lego and radiation science (nuclear physics).

When looking at males and females on the spectrum, females have more camouflaged special interests than boys do which is one of the contributing factors as to why girls are diagnosed at a later age than boys But this is only a generalisation and will not necessarily apply to everyone on the spectrum.

One thing I wonder is whether other neurodiverse conditions can influence how special interests work in the brain.

As well as High Functioning ASD, I have Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Sensory Processing Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and severe ADHD.

When I had a QB test, there were three main categories that I was assessed on: Impulsivity, Hyperactivity and Attention. My impulse levels were found to be normal but my levels of inattention and hyperactivity were on the severe side. Although I have problems with hyperactivity, they’re more subtle that what society would expect. Not every child or person with ADHD will be constantly running around or throwing chairs. My hyperactivity was at its most obvious when I was aged 3 as I used to run away from my parents. My mum once told me about a time when she ended up chasing me down a racing track. Nowadays, I experience hyperactivity through fidgeting and not being able to sit still. My inattention is my most significant factor in my ADHD. I have a short attention span and I can’t concentrate for prolonged amounts of time. I find myself wondering if this is why I often accumulate special interests and pick up new ones quite quickly.

Especially during my late teen years, I have noticed that I have picked up more special interests in shorter amounts of time. Sometimes, I go between special interests and have more of an intense interest in one than another.

If anyone reading this has neurodiverse conditions or is a parent/career of someone with neurodiverse conditions or is a professional in the field, what are your thoughts on this?

Thank you for reading!

Charlotte from Neureco X.

Merry Christmas!

Hi everyone.

I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
It’s definitely been a hard year for everyone globally because of COVID-19 but we have had positives for example celebrating the incredible work of the NHS.
Hopefully next year will be better for everyone.

Thank you for reading?

Charlotte from Neureco x

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