In Britain it is estimated that 1 in 7 people are neurodiverse, with 90% of disabilities being invisible.

Neurodiversity it is an integral part of human diversity and is an umbrella term which includes people who have dyslexia, dyspraxia (DCD), dyscalculia, Autism and ADHD.

All differences should be accepted and to help people better understand neurodiversity, our Learning and Development Manager Ruth Caldwell has put together a selection of resources.

Understanding ADHD in the Early Years

ADHD sits under the umbrella of neurodevelopmental conditions. Other conditions within this group include the likes of Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and more. ADHD can often be difficult to identify in the Early Years as some of the traits compare to typical stages of child development. This article has been written to give you further in recognising the traits of ADHD and how they might present in our youngest group of children.

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and affects 1 in 5 people in the UK. The typical age of diagnosis for ADHD is 7 years, however we can spot the signs earlier and this can be beneficial for providing the support needed in the Early Years.

What are the traits of ADHD?

There are 3 traits of ADHD including Hyperactivity, Inattention and Impulsivity. A child does not have to have all 3 traits to receive a diagnosis. It’s important to note that children in the early years, due to typical stages of child development, will demonstrate similar traits to that of ADHD however, If a child has ADHD the traits will be observed to a greater extent than their peers. You may find that the child demonstrates the traits more frequently and to a greater degree than other children their age.

What do the 3 traits looks like in young children?

Hyperactivity

  • Boundless energy
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Talkative/vocal
  • May struggle to sit still
  • Always “on the go”

Impulsivity

  • Behaving before thinking
  • Short play sequences
  • Reduced risk awareness
  • Often climbing

Inattention

  • Adults often repeat the child’s name
  • Forgetting skills learnt
  • Struggling to follow verbal instructions
  • Inconsistent with routine

Alongside the 3 traits mentioned above, some children may also experience sensory integration challenges. This is when the environment overwhelms the child’s sensory system, leading to them struggling to regulate their responses to the experience.

What should I do if I think my child has ADHD?

If your child is at Nursery, a childminder or in school, speak to them first. The role of the early year’s professional looking after your child, is to make regular observations in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework/Development matters. These observations help them to monitor the child’s development right the way through their time at Nursery/Childminders/School.

If your child does not attend a setting, you may wish to speak to your health visitor. The Health Visiting team provide developmental checks whilst your child is 5 years and under. Their role is to observe the child’s development and to provide you with advice and guidance.

If you and the professionals are in agreement, a referral is likely to be made to a paediatrician in your local area. The role of the Paediatrician is to make observations of the child along with gathering evidence for potential diagnosis. This may take some time as it’s important to see how the child progresses through their first seven years.

Books

differently wired

DIFFERENTLY WIRED: RAISING AN EXCEPTIONAL CHILD IN A CONVENTIONAL WORLD BY DEBORAH REBER

Having a child with neurodifferences can be challenging, and this is a good guide to how to reframe your expectations and parenting skills to help facilitate their growth and happiness

1 2 3 We are amazing

WE’RE AMAZING 1,2,3! A STORY ABOUT FRIENDSHIP AND AUTISM (SESAME STREET) BY LESLIE KIMMELMAN AND MARY BETH NELSON
This is a great picture book for kids, whether they’re neurotypical or neurodivergent. Julia has autism, and the book explains what autism is in a way that’s easily understood by young children. Highly recommend this one.

Thinking in pictures

THINKING IN PICTURES, EXPANDED EDITION: MY LIFE WITH AUTISM BY TEMPLE GRANDIN (#OWNVOICES)

“In this unprecedented book, Grandin delivers a report from the country of autism. Writing from the dual perspectives of a scientist and an autistic person, she tells us how that country is experienced by its inhabitants and how she managed to breach its boundaries to function in the outside world.”

Driving to distraction

DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION: RECOGNIZING AND COPING WITH ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER FROM CHILDHOOD THROUGH ADULTHOOD BY EDWARD HALLOWELL AND JOHN RATEY

“Through vivid stories and case histories of patients—both adults and children—Hallowell and Ratey explore the varied forms ADHD takes, from hyperactivity to daydreaming. They dispel common myths, offer helpful coping tools, and give a thorough accounting of all treatment options as well as tips for dealing with a diagnosed child, partner, or family member. But most importantly, they focus on the positives that can come with this “disorder”—including high energy, intuitiveness, creativity, and enthusiasm.”

A great book for anyone with ADHD. It is comprehensive, well-written and full of great tips for anyone living with this condition. It’s a must read if you have just been diagnosed with ADHD, particularly good for adults with ADHD.

Look me in the eye

LOOK ME IN THE EYE: MY LIFE WITH ASPERGER’S BY JOHN ELDER ROBISON

“Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien yet always deeply human.”

Life animated

LIFE, ANIMATED: A STORY OF SIDEKICKS, HEROES, AND AUTISM BY RON SUSKIND

“This is the real-life story of Owen Suskind. An autistic boy who couldn’t speak for years, Owen memorized dozens of Disney movies, turned them into a language to express love and loss, kinship, brotherhood. The family was forced to become animated characters, communicating with him in Disney dialogue and song; until they all emerge, together, revealing how, in darkness, we all literally need stories to survive.”

An early start

AN EARLY START FOR YOUR CHILD WITH AUTISM: USING EVERYDAY  ACTIVITIES TO HELP KIDS CONNECT, COMMUNICATE,AND LEARN BY SALLY J ROGERS, GERALDINE DAWSON, AND LAURIE A. VISMARA

This book was recommended to me by the psychologist who diagnosed my son, and I love it. It’s one of the best books for parents that I’ve read. It doesn’t emphasize changing stereotypical behaviours,  but encourages parents to build on the strengths of the child and help them understand things like functional play, connecting with others, and activities of daily living.

Kids like us

KIDS LIKE US BY Hilary REYL

Martin is an American teenager on the autism spectrum living in France with his mum and sister for the summer. He falls for a French girl who he thinks is a real-life incarnation of a character in his favourite book. Over time Martin comes to realise she is a real person and not a character in a novel while at the same time learning that love is not out of his reach just because he is autistic.

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