Thursday 3 December 2015

Art Neuro?

Colourful brain representing neurodiversity or neurodisability

It's been well over six months since I raised the question with our various health professionals. We know our son Anthony has autism but does he also have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? So how come it was only today I came across the term neuro-disability.

Anthony has been diagnosed with autism, or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), since he was three years old.  This confirmed his difficulties in lots of areas such as language, social interaction and also sensory processing.  Both Anthony and his younger brother are sensory seekers and demonstrate sensory seeking behaviours.  They move their bodies an effort to 'feel' right.  Constant spinning, flapping, and in Anthony's case jumping to settle their sensory system. 

At school Anthony leaves his classroom several times a day for movement breaks and as he has grown I've wondered whether his constant moving and lack of interaction could partly be due to also having ADHD.  Many kids with ASD  have comorbid conditions, one's that are likely to co-occur and having both ASD and ADHD is quite common indeed.  Practically if this meant Anthony should be getting different support to help him function at school then I knew I should seek further advice and a diagnosis if needed.

Our appointment with the Neuro Development team was today and could be described as dull at best.  I spent an hour answering the many questions that I've answered before and Anthony sat, tapping, tutting and eventually ended up on the floor. Despite me trying to involve him the conversation, the consultant hardly ever asked Anthony a question about himself.  Anthony was paying absolutely no attention anyway, yet another pointer to his potential ADHD. 

At the end of the appointment the neuro consultant talked a bit about 'neuro stimulus' and Anthony's obvious hyperactivity and said he'd be in touch again in a few days after talking to Anthony's school.  We started on our one hour journey home and after 15 minutes went back past a grand building called the Royal Hospital for Neuro Disability.  It suddenly occurred to me - have our kids had neuro-disabilities this whole time and I've never realised it? 

I don't know why but it doesn't feel like this is the right term to describe them.  NHS England defines Neurodisability is an umbrella term for conditions associated with impairment involving the nervous system.  The basic element of the nervous system is the nerve cell, or neuron.  There are billions of neurons in the brain and this along with the spinal cord forms the two main structures of the nervous system.

NHS England goes on to say that this includes conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy.  Other organisations seem to list different conditions.  I've not been able to find a definite list, but NHS England would say our son's have neuro-disabilities. I've always described Jane their younger sister as neuro-typical and  I've always been happy to describe my boys as having a disability but it seems weird somehow to say they have a 'brain' disability. Clinically, I guess it's true, their brains function differently. 

Obviously I'm not a neuro expert and I think I'll probably not be able to stop myself investigating this more. Most recently I came across the term neurodiversity from Steve Silberman's book 'Neurotribes'. Neurodiversity is an approach to learning and disability that suggests that diverse neurological conditions appear as a result of normal variations in the human genome and presents the idea that neurological differences should be recognised and respected as a social category on a par with gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Perhaps it is because I heard the term neurodiversity first that I find neuro-disability strange.  

Whether officially my boys are neuro-disabled or neuro-diverse, I guess all that matters is that my son's get the support they need.  That they are given the opportunity to reach their full potential and to lead their lives in the way they wish.  And so I'll wait to hear from the neuro development team as to whether Anthony needs an ADHD diagnosis and what we can do to continue to support him.  

Our Blog - Hyper what else? (Co-morbid conditions)

External Links
NAS - Sensory
Neurotribes - Steve Silberman's website

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post lovely. I have not really explored more than autism yet, Hayden is still so young. I have never looked into these terms, maybe something I should do?! Thanks for linking up to #spectrumsunday, hope to see you this week xx


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