Each month, Children’s Home Society of Florida team members gather together to discuss important conversations during our Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Coffee and Conversations. Recently, CHS team members engaged in discussions about neurodiversity. . Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.
Together, CHS team members watched this short video which explains why it is necessary to change our perspectives first, not the environment or the individual.
Many team members shared their experiences and were able to connect with each other — truly embracing the fact that we are on this journey together. We respect that learning is an ongoing process and the more we learn, the more equipped we’ll be to foster the inclusion and understanding that we (and the families we partner with) all deserve.
Here are a few of the neurodiversity topics that CHS team members discussed and how we each play a part in remaining self-aware and supportive of others, especially those families we partner with.
Although we can technically define depression, it’s important to remember diagnosis does not follow a “one-size-fits-all” rule. Depression varies from individual to individual, and that’s ok. The best we can do is be aware of some of the tell-tale signs that we can recognize in ourselves or others and offer support where and when we can. It’s important to believe that individuals who are dealing with depression are the best advocates for themselves.
Risk factors can include
- Major life changes
- Family history and so much more.
Staying in tune with and acknowledging these events can help to break the inter-generational stigma of depression for us and the clients we serve. Mental disorders should not be treated any differently than physical disorders. Seeking treatment for a mental disorder can be categorically the same as seeking treatment for a sinus infection or a broken arm. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychotherapy, medication like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) or Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) are tools to treat depression.
It’s important to protect our boundaries in an emotionally heavy work place. Pouring from an empty cup is not an option. Advocate for yourself and your direct reports. Trust an individual’s experience and offer support to yourself and your loved ones when you can.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated one in 44 children in the United States today. Signs of autism usually appear by age two or three. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life. Although there are many types of treatments and interventions, the most common types include Behavioral and Developmental therapy.
Since there are many subtypes of Autism that grant individuals many specific strengths that come with their own challenges, it is important to meet the specific needs of each person. Make sure to highlight diverse thought as strengths and not weaknesses or disabilities. We must remember that it is our differences that catalyzes innovation and progress.
ADHD: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a spectrum containing three subtypes of ADHD recognized by the DSM-5:
- Inattentive type: ADD is a type of ADHD known as inattentive type/ predominantly inattentive ADHD (which is the proper name contrary to its formerly known name Attention Deficit Disorder.
- Children with inattentive type ADHD (ADD) are generally not disruptive in school. They may even sit in class quietly, but that doesn’t mean their disorder isn’t a problem and that they’re not struggling to focus. In addition, not all children with inattentive type ADHD are alike.
- Children with this inattentive type ADHD may appear to be bored or disinterested in classroom activities. They may be prone to daydreaming or forgetfulness, work at a slow pace, and turn in incomplete work.
- Hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD
- ADHD is the most known type of ADHD. Children with ADHD tend to act out or exhibit behavior problems in class.
- Combined type.
- Children with combined type ADHD display several symptoms of both hyperactive-impulsive type and inattentive type
The causes of ADHD are not clear but factors that may play a role include genetics, the environment and problems during development.
Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
With depression, the person may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When their mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), they may feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior and the ability to think clearly. Although with Bipolar Disorder don’t all have the same symptoms.
What is the prognosis for a person who has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder? Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, people with bipolar disorder can manage mood swings and other symptoms. In most cases, bipolar disorder is treated with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
- CDC Resources
- CHS team members have access to EAP confidential support services. For assistance, please visit: www.curalinc.com or call (800) 490-1585.