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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Vu

What are the Challenges of Neurodivergent Individuals?

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

Neurodivergent individuals, including those with autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, have unique characteristics and specific challenges to discuss.


The Prevalence of Neurodivergence Worldwide

According to data from the National Cancer Institute, approximately 20% of the global population is considered neurodivergent. This statistic underscores the significance of neurodivergence as an integral aspect of the human condition. Neurodivergent individuals, including those with conditions such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, bring unique perspectives and abilities to the table, enriching the diversity of human cognition and behaviour. Understanding and appreciating this diversity is crucial in fostering inclusive and supportive communities.



Challenges of Neurodivergent Individuals

Neurodivergent individuals experience a broad spectrum of challenges that vary significantly based on their specific conditions and individual differences. Below are some of the primary challenges faced by neurodivergent individuals:


Social Communication Difficulties

Social communication challenges are common in many neurodivergent conditions, particularly autism spectrum disorders. Neurodivergent individuals may find it hard to interpret nonverbal cues (García-Pérez et al., 2007), engage in reciprocal conversations (Hobson & Lee, 1998), or navigate the complexities of social relationships (Sasson et al., 2017).


Sensory Sensitivities

Heightened sensory sensitivities can overwhelm manifold neurodivergent individuals (Crane et al., 2009). Bright lights, loud noises, or certain textures can lead to discomfort or even sensory overload. Regular settings, such as crowded areas or social events, may be complicated for someone with these sensitivities.

Sensory sensitivities
Bright lights, loud noises, or certain textures can lead to sensory overload for neurodivergent individuals.

Emotion dysregulation

For many neurodivergent people, emotional control can be laborious (Retz et al., 2012). The intensity of emotions and difficulties in recognizing and expressing feelings can lead to mood swings and problems in interpersonal relationships.



Difficulty with Executive Functions

Executive functions, which include skills like planning, organization, and time management, can be challenging for neurodivergent individuals, particularly those with ADHD (Brown, 2008). These difficulties can impact academic and occupational performance.


Repetitive Behaviors and Routines

Repetitive behaviours and adherence to strict routines are common in individuals with autism (Allen et al., 2001). While these routines provide security and predictability, they can also be rigid and limiting, potentially causing distress when disrupted.


Communication and Language Challenges

Dyslexia, a ubiquitous learning difficulty, can present significant reading and language-processing challenges (Siegel, 2006). This hardship can lead to difficulties in academic and professional settings, potentially affecting self-esteem and confidence.

Dyslexia
Dyslexia can lead to difficulties in academic and professional settings.

Lack of Understanding and Stigma for Neurodivergent individuals

A lack of understanding and pervasive stigma surrounding neurodiversity can make life more miserable (Sasson, 2017). Due to misconceptions and biases, those who identify as neurodivergent may experience discrimination, exclusion, and a reluctance to seek help or accommodations.



Social Isolation and Bullying

Bullying and social isolation are prevalent issues that neurodivergent individuals might encounter, particularly in school environments (Bauminger et al., 2003; Gurbuz et al., 2019). The struggle to fit in and the potential for being targeted can profoundly impact their mental health and self-esteem.

Social Isolation and Bullying
Social isolation and bullying experiences are prevalent challenges for many neurodivergent individuals.

Employment Challenges

For those who are neurodivergent, finding and keeping a job might not be an easy task. Discrimination, difficulties in job interviews, and struggles with specific job-related duties can be obstacles to their successful employment (Cheriyan et al., 2021).


Addressing the Challenges

In this blog, we have explored the multifaceted challenges faced by neurodivergent individuals, shedding light on the specific hurdles they encounter due to conditions such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. From social communication difficulties and sensory sensitivities to executive functioning issues and emotional regulation, neurodivergent individuals navigate a complex landscape. Understanding these challenges is the first step in fostering a more inclusive and supportive society. While these challenges are significant, it is crucial to recognize that they are not insurmountable. The next step is to explore strategies and approaches at DAT to support neurodivergent individuals in addressing and overcoming these hurdles, creating a more inclusive and accepting environment for all.



References:

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  2. Bauminger N., Shulman C., Agam G. (2003). Peer interaction and loneliness in high-functioning children with autism. J. Autism Dev. Disord. 33, 489–507. doi: 10.1023/a:1025827427901

  3. Brown T. E. (2008). ADD/ADHD and Impaired Executive Function in Clinical Practice. Current psychiatry reports, 10(5), 407–411. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-008-0065-7

  4. Cheriyan C., Shevchuk-Hill S., Riccio A., Vincent J., Kapp S. K., Cage E., et al.. (2021). Exploring the career motivations, strengths, and challenges of autistic and non-autistic university students: insights from a participatory study. Front. Psychol. 12:719827. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.719827

  5. Crane L, Goddard L, Pring L. (2009). Sensory processing in adults with autism spectrum disorders. Autism pp. 13, 215–228

  6. Hobson RP, Lee A. (1998). Hello and goodbye: a study of social engagement in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders pp. 28, 117–127

  7. García-Pérez RM, Lee A, Hobson RP. (2007). On intersubjective engagement in autism: a controlled study of nonverbal aspects of conversation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(7), 1310–1322

  8. Gurbuz E., Hanley M., Riby D. (2019). University students with autism: the social and academic experiences of university in the UK. J. Autism Dev. Disord. 49, 617–631. doi: 10.1007/s10803-018-3741-4

  9. Retz, W., Stieglitz, R. D., Corbisiero, S., Retz-Junginger, P., & Rösler, M. (2012). Emotional dysregulation in adult ADHD: What is the empirical evidence?. Expert review of neurotherapeutics, 12(10), 1241–1251. https://doi.org/10.1586/ern.12.109

  10. Sasson NJ, Faso DJ, Nugent J, et al. (2017). Neurotypical peers are less willing to interact with those with autism based on thin slice judgments. Scientific Reports, 7, 40700. DOI: 10.1038/srep40700

  11. Siegel L. S. (2006). Perspectives on dyslexia. Paediatrics & child health, 11(9), 581–587. https://doi.org/10.1093/pch/11.9.581

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