Supporting Neurodiverse Teens

Dear Families, 
We hope you had a restful and restorative winter break! 

As we return to school and the rigors of academics, we begin thinking of the best ways to continue supporting  our students. We  know not all students learn the same way. What is the best way to support and encourage  neurodiverse students?    

As parents, everyone strives to provide unwavering support and create an environment that nurtures a child’s unique strengths.  When you are parenting a neurodiverse child, that can sometimes be easier said than done. 
What is Neurodivergence?  
Neurodivergence is  a term used to describe individuals with neurological differences that cause  them to think, learn, and process information differently.  This can include individuals with conditions such as Autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and more.   

Neurodivergence is more common than many people realize.  1 in 6 children between the ages of 3 and 17 are considered neurodiverse.   
Signs of Neurodivergence can vary from individual to individual, but some common ones include the following: 
. Difficulty with social interaction 
. Difficulty with communication 
. Processing sensory information 
. Issues with with focus and concentration 
. Intense interest in a particular topic or activity 
. Stuck in repetitive behaviors or routines 
. Difficulty following instructions 
. Difficulty following instructions 
. Difficulty organizing thoughts 
. Difficulty with filtering out external stimuli 
The first place to support your child is in your home.  Below are a few tips for supporting your neurodivergent teen: 
Open Communication: Establish  open and honest communication with your child.  Encourage them to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without judgment.  Active listening can help you better understand their needs, and perspectives.   In addition, use clear, direct language to help reduce misunderstandings. 
Have a set routine: Having structure at home  can help them not experience as much stress in their day to day lives.    

Learn about their neurodivergence:  Educate yourself about your teen’s specific neurodivergence.  This can help you make informed decisions regarding their education, therapy, and overall well-being.   
Encourage their interests and talents: Neurodivergent teens often possess unique talents and passions.  Encourage and support their interests, whether it’s music, art, mathematics, or any other area. 
Encourage their strengths: Give them  recognition where it is due in  their strong points,  and make them feel good about areas where they may feel different from others.   
Help them develop executive function skills: Help them develop time management, organization, and planning skills.  Utilize visual schedules, calendars, and reminders. 
Foster social skills: When appropriate, consider social skills groups, or therapy to help them navigate social situations more effectively.  Role-playing scenarios and providing constructive feedback can also be helpful. 
Provide emotional support:  Create a safe and nurturing home environment where they feel comfortable sharing their feelings and seeking support when needed. 
Respect their boundaries: While it’s essential to provide support and guidance, they also need space to develop their independence and make their own choices.  It’s also important to recognize that they may have sensory sensitivities or specific needs regarding personal space and routines. 
Supporting a neurodivergent teen requires patience, understanding, and flexibility. While  embracing  the uniqueness of your child, fostering  open communication,and providing support, you can help them navigate the challenges of adolescence and harness their potential.   
As always, please reach out to members of our Wellness team with questions. 
The Wellness Team