Counselling by Nicola Stewart
I work with many neurodivergent pupils in schools. Having a good sense of self and celebrating neurodiversity is so important for pupil wellbeing. Here I will offer support and signposting for all neurodivergent children, young people and their families.
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As a parent or carer you may already have a diagnosis for your child supporting their needs or you may be at the beginning of this journey in identifying what those needs may be.
Do I need a formal diagnosis for my child?
This is always your choice. It is useful to have a conversation with your child's school and your GP to discuss this for your particular circumstance. I support many parents who question the need for a diagnosis and my response is always to say that it can be considered a 'signpost' and not a label. This signpost can help not only you as a parent, but also your child's school with putting in place the right support for them to be able to thrive. Most importantly it can give your child a sense of being part of a large community where they are not alone, where their needs are understood and met, leading to a greater sense of self.
Maybe they just need to see a counsellor?
Many children who are without a neurodivergent identification are referred for counselling with a presenting issue of anxiety or issues with emotional regulation. This is secondary to understanding the root, which can be an internalised sense of difference. This sense can be difficult to verbalise and may affect your child's self-esteem and confidence.
Why does my child have meltdowns?
Meltdowns or shutdowns can be due to sensory overload - neurodivergent children may have sensory sensitivities and if these are not recognised and regulated it can lead to an emotional meltdown or shutdown.
I find working with children in the therapy room alongside seeking a formal identification gives children and families greater confidence and understanding. Many neurodivergent children use great amounts of energy to 'mask' or camouflage their authentic selves to try and fit in with a neurotypical society - this is exhausting for them and can lead to emotional meltdowns/shutdowns and burnout.
The image here shows you the 8 sensory sytstems we all have. For neurodivergent children and young people an overload of these senses can be so overwhelming that they may respond with an action or behaviour that provides sensory input or soothing - it is so important to explore this by completing a sensory assessment with an Occupational Therapist (see below for links to services available in your area).
Useful links for sensory supports
Signposts for assessment