Dyspraxia out and about.

Hi everyone and welcome back to Neureco! Today’s post is about the difficulties faced by those with dyspraxia when they’re out and about. I haven’t talked about dyspraxia often enough and I thought it would be interesting to explore.

I’ve drawn a couple of thoughts I sometimes have when I’m out.

I struggle to walk and stand for long periods of time because those with dyspraxia often have low muscle tone and low upper and lower body strength, this can also be experienced by those with autism. Because the body doesn’t have enough strength to support itself for prolonged amounts of time, those with dyspraxia can become easily exhausted after standing or walking for certain periods of time and it can cause aches and pain. I often find that my back goes, although I’m quite young and you only usually hear about older people having problems with their back going or people who have back problems due to an occupational hazard for example.

Fine and gross motor skills can be affected by dyspraxia and tasks such as paying for parking can be tricky as it involves many fine motor skills. I often worry if I am paying at a parking metre or even at the self service checkouts at the supermarkets about holding people up behind me because I am very slow.

People with dyspraxia can experience many other problems when they are out and about, these are only a couple of examples.

If someone struggles with coordination or fine/gross motor skills out and about, please be patient with them. They’re trying their best to get what they need to do done but it may take them time.

Thank you very much for reading!

Charlotte from Neureco x

Employment and Autism

Hi everyone and welcome back to Neureco! Today’s post is about employment for those with autism, specifically why autistic people want to be and should be able to be in full time employment.

According to organisations such as the National Autistic Society and Ambitious About Autism, only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full time employment. There are several reasons as to why this statistic is so low. Some people with autism may find the working environment overwhelming and difficult to navigate, as a result some people may find having a job too tiring and overwhelming or may only be able to cope with a part time job. Additionally, some employers may not fully understand autism therefore autistic employees may find places inaccessible as their employers don’t understand their needs. The whole process of applying for a job can be stressful enough for neurotypical people but can be even more stressful and confusing for those on the spectrum.

I believe that many autistic people, including myself, would like to raise this statistic. Many autistic people would love to be in full time employment if they could access that. Autistic people have so much to offer to the world.

Autistic people have different qualities compared to neurotypical people which may benefit them in their working lives and could benefit their employers.

For example:

• Autistic people have great attention to detail and can spot it in the big picture.

• Autistic people can be very committed and devoted to what they do, particularly if their job relates to their special interest.

• Autistic people are very reliable.

• Those with autism also have a very unique and different way of viewing the world and thinking which can benefit many areas e.g. problem solving.

These are just a few qualities people on the spectrum poses. Fortunately many employers actively look for autistic people to take on specific jobs because of these unique characteristics.

Employers could become more aware of autism through taking courses, some organisations offer courses for employers and professionals about the topic. Also if employers asked employees if they have any disabilities or any other conditions, they would be able to make suitable adjustments and accommodations so these people can do their job to the best of their ability.

All of this doesn’t just apply to those on the spectrum, this applies to all the other neurodiverse conditions too!

Thank you very much for reading!

Charlotte from Neureco X

Sibling appreciation post

Hi everyone and welcome back to Neureco! Today’s post is dedicated to appreciating the siblings of those who are neurodiverse.

Siblings are awesome people who often understand neurodiverse conditions better than most people as they live and experience it every day.

Siblings can be those people who stick up for their neurodiverse siblings in the playground. They look after their siblings and show them the ways of the world.

Siblings of neurodiverse people are often neurodiverse themselves as many of the conditions which fall under neurodiversity are likely to be hereditary.

I wanted to say thank you to those who have neurodiverse siblings for supporting them, understanding them and love them for who they are. You guys are absolutely fantastic!

Charlotte from Neureco X

The neurodiverse guide to periods.

Hi everyone and welcome back to Neureco. Today’s post is targeted more at those who have periods. A period being a few days of bleeding from your uterus.

Sometimes with neurodiverse conditions, people can find it slightly more difficult to deal with periods, mainly because of difficulties with organisation. So I have decided to do a brief guide to periods for those with neurodiverse conditions.

So firstly if you are quite young or are a parent of a young neurodiverse person, it’s important to know what to expect when you get your first period. Usually it will just happen but you can prepare by reading a book on it or by watching a factual video about periods if that’s what you prefer. When you have had your first period, you don’t tend to have another one for a few months and during adolescence they will not always be regular because of your changing hormones.

One important thing to decide is what kind of sanitary products you would prefer to use.

The most common sanitary products are towels and tampons.

Towels stick to your underwear and will catch/absorb blood when it comes out. You can have different shapes and sizes and they can come with wings which help to keep them more secure.

Tampons are inserted into the vagina, some tampons come with applicators to make this easier, once it’s in you can’t feel it. They will absorb the blood and expand. Tampons are great for if you do physical activity or want to go swimming. However it’s important to change them regularly and possibly advisable to wear a sanitary towel at night due to a small risk of toxic shock syndrome.

It’s always a good idea to keep a towel or tampon in your bag or coat just in case of an emergency, for example if you get your period and you’re not quite prepared.

As those with neurodiverse conditions struggle with organisation, it may be useful to use something like this (see above) to know when sanitary products need changing. With sanitary towels, it is advisable to change those every 2-3 hours. Of course you can’t really to this at night but various companies do night time towels which are designed to be used for the time when you are asleep. But it’s important to change towels every 2-3 hours because when the blood from the uterus is exposed to the air, it will mix with bacteria in the air which could result in an infection.

I can’t stress enough how useful it is to keep track of your periods using a calendar or an app. If you have Apple products, you can use the period tracker function on the health app. I use Clue which was recommended to me by a friend and you can track symptoms you can experience during the pre-menstrual tension period just before you start your period such as tender breasts and irritability. You can also track if you do sporting activities as these can affect when your period comes. It’s useful to track your periods because you will have a rough idea of when to expect your period and you can add sanitary products to the shopping list and do whatever else you need to do to prepare for your period.

Thank you very much for reading, I hope this was helpful!

Charlotte from Neureco X

The Autism Spectrum, Autism and Asperger’s.

Hi everyone and welcome back to Neureco! Today I will be talking a bit about the autism spectrum, autism and Asperger’s and the differences and similarities between them.

So Autism and Asperger’s are the same in that they are both neurodevelopmental conditions which affect a person’s ability to communicate and understand social situations. They both fall on the autism spectrum.

I’ve drawn the autism spectrum here (sorry it looks like the electromagnetic spectrum 😂).

When someone is diagnosed in the UK (I’m unsure about the diagnostic classifications in other countries), they will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder regardless of whether they have autism or Asperger’s.

This leads me on to the most major difference between autism and Asperger’s, those with autism have a speech and language disorder which involves a speech delay and those with Asperger’s don’t have a speech delay.

Because of this, there is an argument about whether Asperger’s should be a separate diagnosis.

On the spectrum above, I have put Asperger’s at the far left of the spectrum as it could be considered as one of the most high functioning forms of autism spectrum disorder. High functioning autism falls on the left as well but not as far as Asperger’s as those with high functioning autism often have speech delays and/or a speech and language disorder. This is about where I am on the spectrum, I had a speech delay meaning I couldn’t talk properly until around the age of 4. Severe autism is on the right of the spectrum line, those with severe autism will likely share similarly characteristics with those who have high functioning autism or Asperger’s but may experience them more intensely. Sometimes those with severe autism may be non verbal.

For many people, visualising the autism spectrum like in the drawing above is helpful so they can visually see where they or someone else is on the spectrum. Although, others prefer not to use a visualisation of the spectrum. But it doesn’t matter whether people visualise the autism spectrum or use other methods of understanding it. At the end of the day, understanding and acceptance is all we would like 🥰.

Thank you very much for reading!

Charlotte from Neureco X

Comic story – Charlotte in the cafeteria

Hi everyone and welcome back to Neureco! I thought it would be fun to do visual/comic stories illustrating how neurodiversity affects everyday life and adventures (both positively and negatively!) I hope you enjoy!

Charlotte is in the school cafeteria, she finds this experience challenging.

When I was at school, the cafeteria was one of the most difficult environments I encountered. It was a very bright, echoey and noisy room and the mixture of different food smells was overwhelming. Unless we had a lunchtime club or lesson, year 7-11 had to eat in the cafeteria. Luckily in sixth form, we had a bit more freedom with where we ate. Most of the problems I experienced were due to my sensory processing difficulties, especially my heightened senses.

Charlotte usually brings a packed lunch to school, because of her sensory processing.

Throughout my school life I never really had school dinners, except for Fridays at my second primary school because they did fish and chips. At my third primary school/secondary school, the cafeteria system seemed quite complicated to me and I didn’t want to be worrying about that whilst worrying about whether they had any food that I would eat so I always had packed lunches. Because I struggle with the taste and texture of foods, I often ate things separately. For example, I had a plain bread roll/bap/cob and had a piece of cheese separately.

Charlotte prefers to eat her lunch in the school library (when she’s allowed), it’s much quieter and there are less smells.

Especially during sixth form, I took to eating my lunch in the library. I would use the library during my free periods and if I had a free period before lunchtime, I would eat my lunch then. We were also permitted to eat lunch in the library if we were attending a lunchtime club or if we were working in the library that lunchtime. I preferred this because there were no overwhelming smells of food as eating wasn’t really allowed in the library expect for the circumstances mentioned, also it was quiet in there too.

If you or someone you know struggles with the environment where lunch is eaten, you could try finding an alternative place to have lunch to reduce sensory overload so you can enjoy your lunch as everyone else does.

Thank you very much for reading and please share your experiences of sensory processing issues in a cafeteria.

Charlotte from Neureco X

Diagnoses at 16.

Hi everyone and welcome back to Neureco! Today’s post is about the diagnoses I received aged 16.

When I was 16, I received my diagnoses of ADHD, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) affects the way people behave for example they may struggle with concentration or could be able to concentrate for long amounts of time, some people may display hyperactive behaviours and some may not and some people may have impulses which cause them to behave in a certain way, or not. There are many stereotypes regarding ADHD. Most people may picture a disruptive child in a classroom throwing chairs across the room. Whilst this is an example of behaviour which could be displayed by someone with ADHD, it is only one example and is not necessarily the case for everyone who has ADHD.

My ADHD was possibly picked up when I was around 2 or 3 years old. I would often run away from people, for example my mum once had to chase me down a horse racing course 😂! Because of this, I was kept on reins for a while to stop me from running off. To this day I struggle to sit still, I often fidget in my chair or my leg may jiggle. I had to wait a while before I was able to get a QB test. I was told this test was designed to be boring so my behaviours could be monitored. I had to wear a headband with wires attached so my movements could be tracked, it looked like something from a Sci-Fi film or TV show. I was given a clicker and I had to click it in time with a pattern on the screen. A professional was with me the whole time to observe my behaviours.

When we got the test results back, it turned out that I have severe ADHD. Although my impulse scores came out as average, my attention and hyperactivity scores came out on the 99% percentile and the 98% percentile meaning only 1% and 2% of the country experience more severe problems with attention and hyperactivity that I do. It came as quite a surprise that my ADHD was this severe to all of us. This meant that because of the fact I struggled to concentrate for periods of time and I was often off in my own world and easily distracted, I have been medicated so when I do work or driving I will be able to concentrate.

Dyslexia is quite common and those with dyslexia struggle with reading, writing and spelling. It is viewed as a specific learning difficulty. People with dyslexia may struggle with reading at speed, they may skip lines or read the same thing twice, they can get letters and numbers mixed up and struggle with spelling and handwriting.

Growing up and being in school, I met many people who were dyslexic and gained a rough idea of what it was all about. It was actually first pointed out to me that I could be dyslexic during a GCSE maths lesson at school when I put down 12 as the answer to a question and the maths teacher told me the correct and swear was 21, he asked if I had dyslexia.

This was the first time someone had suggested this and it came as quite a surprise because from what I had seen of my friends who were dyslexic, I didn’t think I was dyslexic. I’m quite a keen reader and I don’t have too many problems with spelling. Although I have issues with my handwriting, I put this down to autism and sensory processing disorder.

We decided to get an assessment. My mum thought that with my other difficulties, it would be best to get an educational psychologist to assess me rather than a dyslexia tutor. I was about two days into year 12 when I went for my assessment. I was told at the end of the assessment that if I was dyslexic, it would be mild. The results came back fairly quickly and I found out that I have mild dyslexia, which was quite a surprise to me. I still don’t quite fully understand my dyslexia but hopefully as time goes on, I will build up an understanding.

Dyspraxia, or developmental co-ordination disorder, is another neurodivergent condition which affects balance, co-ordination and movement. However, it’s not just about the physical aspects. Dyspraxia can affect your organisational skills and ability to learn and retain facts and information.

I saw a physio who suggested that I was dyspraxic but I obtained the diagnosis from my CAMHS consultant. I have often struggled with balance and co-ordinating myself, I struggle with fine motor skills and organising myself. My dyspraxia affects my strength, for example I can get back ache quite quickly from standing up for certain amounts of time, my back also goes quite frequently too.

I sometimes become confused because these neurodiverse conditions have overlapping symptoms so when I experience a difficulty in a certain area, I’m sometimes unsure which neurodiverse condition it is that affects me in that area or whether two of them affect that area equally.

Thank you very much for reading and please share your experiences of your neurodiverse conditions and diagnosese.

Charlotte from Neureco X

Autism and making eye contact.

Hi everyone and welcome back to Neureco, today’s post is about autism and making eye contact.

Often people who are on the autism spectrum struggle with eye contact. They may be unable to give eye contact or they may make too much eye contact.

This can be because autistic people can struggle to make eye contact at the same time as listening to someone else talk. We can’t always do both at the same time. If we focus on making eye contact with someone, we don’t really hear or take in what the other person is saying therefore in order to listen to someone else, we may not be making eye contact. This doesn’t mean we’re not interested, we’re probably very interested in what people have to say! 😂

Another issue autistic people can experience is having pain or discomfort in their eyes when making eye contact. Again, people on the spectrum who experience this are interested in what people are saying but making eye contact with them can cause great discomfort and/or pain.

I have experienced both of these problems, mainly experiencing pain in my eyes when making eye contact. A technique I have been told about is to look at a person’s forehead when speaking to them as it does look like you are making eye contact. This may work for some people on the spectrum. Personally, I get pain and discomfort looking around the eye area, including foreheads. Also if I’m focusing too hard on making an effort to make eye contact with the other person, I will probably not take in anything they’re saying.

I find it strange that I can make eye contact with certain individuals and as I get older, I find that I can make eye contact with more and more people. For example, I can make eye contact with my mum probably because I see her everyday. I also find I can usually make eye contact with people around my own age. An occasion when I find it very difficult to make eye contact is if someone is standing too close to me or invading my personal space. This often makes me uncomfortable when people invade my personal space or get too close, as it does with many people.

Some people on the spectrum may give too much eye contact, giving people the impression that they are staring. Sometimes autistic people can struggle to know how much eye contact they should be giving and may not realise that they’re giving too much.

Thank you very much for reading and please share your experiences of making eye contact with people.

Charlotte from Neureco X

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

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