What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity refers to the concept of having diverse neurological differences that are a result of normal, natural variations in the human brain. Some people are born different, but those differences are not to be seen as weaknesses. Australian sociologist, Judy Singer introduced the term neurodiversity to advocate for the inclusion and acceptance of neurodiverse individuals in society. The idea is that there is no one specific way of behaving – neurodiverse individuals have unique ways of experiencing, interacting with, and interpreting the world.

Individuals who are differently-abled should not be discriminated against; instead, we need to understand their complex mix of strengths and challenges, as well as their different styles of functioning and coping.  In the 1990s, the neurodiversity movement garnered support for neurodivergence and promoted the idea that all individuals should be embraced with their neurodevelopmental differences. Research in neurodiversity is highly integral in order to introduce appropriate clinical and psychoeducational interventions for the positive overall development of the neurodivergent population.

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Our Vision

To Promote A Life Where People With Learning Disabilities Are Valued, Included And Empowered.

Branches of Neurodiversity

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Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder marked by difficulty in communication and social skills. Autistic individuals face challenges with interpreting and expressing emotions in social situations, have limited interests and present repetitive behavior patterns. They also struggle to understand verbal and non-verbal cues (i.e., body language, facial expressions). These challenges may affect their daily functioning and impact their ability to perform everyday tasks. With age, these problems also present as teenagers’ or adolescents’ inability to understand sarcasm, social cues, and eventually develop healthy relationships.

Some common signs and behaviors:

●Sensory sensitivities (e.g., light, sound)

●Difficulty maintaining eye contact

●Difficulty perceiving other people’s emotions and social cues

●Trouble shifting focus from one task to another

●Struggle with adapting to new routines

ASD is a spectrum condition as the kind of symptoms associated with it vary in severity from one person to the other. Two people with ASD may have fairly different experiences. Autism affects individuals of all ages however the signs may emerge as early as 12-18 months in children. An early diagnosis can guide the right intervention strategies to adopt and illuminate the specific issues and areas of strength for an individual with this neurodivergence.

Their ability to pay great attention to detail, high memory retention, logical problem-solving skills and, strong commitment to routine and punctuality – all place them at an advantage in excelling in education, workplaces and/or their creative hobbies. Despite autism being a long-term condition, appropriate and timely interventions can help individuals manage their symptoms better. Different forms of interventions from medication to psychosocial and psychoeducational programs support the management of various behavioral difficulties. While medication can control signs of hyperactivity, inattention and repetitive behavior patterns, psychosocial interventions and other skill-based resources can help refine their social and communication abilities.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral condition characterized by traits of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Approximately 3% of individuals globally are a part of this neurodivergent group. While lack of attention and behavioral problems are fairly common in childhood, children who continue to display these issues beyond the typical age consequently struggle with impaired development. They may be at a disadvantage at school and in building their peer/family relationships. These kids may fidget a lot, speak out of turn in classrooms, run around and struggle with maintaining focus on one task for long periods of time. The severity and frequency of these behaviors are pivotal in determining the diagnosis of ADHD.

Symptoms may emerge between 3-6 years of age but often go unnoticed by caregivers, resulting in a late diagnosis. For ADHD to be diagnosed in adulthood, the symptoms are typically present before age 12. Pharmacological interventions and psychosocial interventions like behavioral therapy are known to improve outcomes for individuals with ADHD and provide a chance at better overall functioning. Family support can also be instrumental in helping ADHD children with their everyday activities (i.e., establishing a routine, making lists) and eventually managing the condition better.

Despite the challenges, individuals with this neurodivergence also possess many strengths. Their creativity and imagination help bring innovative ideas to the table while they also exhibit hyperfocus and extremely high levels of commitment to their tasks.

Main signs:

  • Inattentiveness – persistent trouble with maintaining focus and order
  • Hyperactivity – urge to continuously be on the move (i.e., constant fidgeting, moving around, talking)
  • Impulsivity – frequent inability to exercise self-control, speaking or acting without much thought

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic condition which is characterized by uncontrollable and obsessive thoughts and/or behaviors that follow a repetitive pattern. This neurodivergent group shows signs of obsessions (thoughts) and compulsions (behaviors) which can affect a person’s daily functioning at school and their workplace. Obsessions are overwhelming thoughts or images that provoke anxiety and can look like wanting a specific routine or order of things, fear of germs and harboring aggressive thoughts. Compulsions are strong urges to perform repetitive behaviors as a result of obsessive thoughts. These compulsions can look like excessive cleaning or washing of hands, constantly double-checking things, and ensuring a specific order or arrangement of things. Although double-checking and other such habits aren’t completely uncommon, an individual with OCD is unable to control their obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. They spend a significant amount of their time on these thoughts and behaviors every day, which in turn affects their ability to perform their everyday tasks.

Age of onset is usually around 19 years; however, boys may present with signs earlier than girls. On the other hand, the emergence of OCD past the age of 35 is also not unheard of. There are certain factors that make an individual more vulnerable to OCD such as having family history of the disorder, brain abnormalities and past traumatic experiences. Treatment for OCD generally involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication, but the high prevalence of comorbidities (such as anxiety and depression) with OCD is important to consider when planning for a course of treatment.

Common signs:

  • Constant cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Being particular about wanting things in a specific order or arrangement
  • Uncontrollable thoughts and urges – fear of germs, aggression, harm

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words. It is also known as a reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language. It can also include challenges with information processing, short-term memory and timekeeping. People with dyslexia have normal intelligence and usually have normal vision. Most children with dyslexia can succeed in school with tutoring or a specialized education program. Though there’s no cure for dyslexia, early assessment and
intervention provides the best results. Constant emotional support plays a very important role. For every ten people, one of them is likely to be dyslexic. There are around 700 million dyslexic people worldwide. Dyslexia tends to run in families. It appears to be linked to certain genes that affect how the brain processes reading and language, as well as risk factors like premature birth, exposure during pregnancy to drugs, alcohol or an infection that may alter brain development in the fetus. Signs of dyslexia can be difficult to recognize before a child enters school, but some early clues may help with an early diagnosis like late talking, slow learning new words, problems forming words correctly, etc. In school, dyslexia signs may become more apparent, including:

  • Reading below the expected level for a certain age.
  • Problems processing and understanding what he/she hears.
  • Difficulty finding the right word or forming answers to questions.
  • Problems remembering the sequence of things.
  • Difficulty seeing similarities and differences in letters and words.
  • Inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word.
  • Difficulty spelling.
  • Spending an unusually long time completing reading or writing tasks.
  • Avoiding activities that involve reading.

However, these challenges are consequences of a unique brain functioning that often have a broad range of cognitive features and strengths like creativity, design recognition, communication and being able to look at the bigger picture.

Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by sudden, repetitive, rapid, and unwanted movements or vocal sounds called tics. The symptoms start showing between the ages of 2 and 15. Tics come and go over time, varying in type, frequency, location, and severity. The exact cause of Tourette syndrome isn’t known. It’s a complex disorder likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. 86% of the population with Tourette’s, also have at least one other condition like ADHD, OCD, anxiety, autism, learning disabilities, sleep disorders, pain caused by tics and/or depression. Tics are classified as:

  • Simple tics:These sudden, brief and repetitive tics involve a limited number of muscle groups.
  • Complex tics:These distinct, coordinated patterns of movements involve several muscles group.

Motor tics generally precede the development of vocal tics and simple tics often precede complex tics. Common motor tics seen in Tourette syndrome include:

  • Simple tics:eye blinking, head jerking, shoulder shrugging etc.
  • Complex tics:repeating observed movements, touching or smelling objects, obscene gestures, etc.

Common vocal tics seen in Tourette syndrome include:

  • Simple tics:grunting, coughing, throat clearing, and barking.
  • Complex tics:repeating one’s own words or phrases, repeating others’ words or phrases and using vulgar, obscene or swear words.

Common Tourette syndrome strengths include hyperfocus, interpersonal awareness, planning ahead, improvising, and imagination/creativity.

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a less-talked-about but common condition in children in which they struggle with comprehending or using language. DLD impacts about 1 in 15 children and ends up affecting their ability to perform in the classroom and develop friendships with their peers. Although each child with this neurodivergence may present a different outlook of difficulties, the typical challenges include problems with using proper grammar, weak vocabulary, and generally struggling with expressing thoughts and feelings in words.

DLD is usually diagnosed in childhood and remains with an individual into adulthood. Causes for this neurodivergence range from family history to the cognitive processing ability of each child.

Common signs:

  • Trouble using appropriate grammar and tenses (e.g., saying “I play in park” instead of “I was playing in the park”)
  • Difficulty pronouncing the right sounds
  • Having a weak vocabulary for their age (i.e., knowing fewer words)

Dyscalculia refers to difficulty with understanding arithmetic concepts and tasks involving basic math problems. Although many struggle with math anxiety and calculation errors, individuals with this neurodivergence will experience frequent and long-term challenges in carrying out calculations and conceptualizing numbers. Some common problems include inability to perform mental math, issues with reading analog clocks, and trouble following up on recent events and facts. Dyscalculia is typically diagnosed at school-going age and specialized interventions (such as tailored instructional strategies at school) are known to be effective in improving outcomes for this neurodiverse group. In spite of the difficulties, individuals with dyscalculia have strengths in areas of creative thinking and high verbal and cognitive functioning.


  • Weak sense of number estimation
  • Counting on fingers instead of performing mental math (even as the child grows older)
  • Struggle with basic mathematical procedures
  • Have trouble counting backwards
  • Have issues remembering sequence of events and facts

Dyspraxia, also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder, is a specific learning disability affecting coordination, movement, balance and organizational abilities. It affects fine and gross motor skills, motor planning, hand-to-eye coordination and spatial awareness (being able to visual things from different perspectives). Although it can affect cognitive skills, it’s not related to intelligence. Males are twice as likely to be diagnosed than females. This neurodivergence often exhibits similar characteristics with other neurodivergent conditions like ADHD, particularly in the areas of short-term memory, concentration, and social interaction. Research suggests 52% of children with dyslexia may also have dyspraxia. If a baby has dyspraxia, one might notice delayed milestones, such as lifting the head, rolling over, etc., though children with this condition may eventually reach early milestones on time. Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • Unusual body positions
  • General irritability
  • Sensitivity to loud noises
  • Feeding and sleeping problems
  • A high level of movement of the arms and legs

As a child grows, one might also observe delays in: crawling, walking, potty training, self-feeding and elf-dressing. Common dyspraxia strengths include leadership, empathy, strategy and problem-solving abilities.


Intellectual disability in a child has a significant effect on a mother’s mental health due to lack of social support, decrease in socialization and care burden. This leads to depression and anxiety among parents of children with disabilities. A study was conducted with 26 depressed mothers. The objective was to assess the acceptance of LTP in My Own Way Plus intervention. Results showed that the intervention was helpful for mothers to manage their stress and mood related problems and improved the well-being of both mothers and their children.


Individuals with Intellectual Disability (ID) are more vulnerable to develop mental health problems due to many factors including biological/ genetic factors, physical health e.g. epilepsy, low self-esteem, poor coping skills, abuse, stigma, repeated failure, losses, and separations, and poor employment prospects (Bernal and Hollins, 1995). These disorders have an enormous cost due to the early age of onset and lifetime disability. In a developing country like Pakistan, there is a wide scope to introduce, implement and measure the effectiveness of new techniques to overcome stress and related problems in individuals with disabilities and their caretakers as well. With the same aim, we have conducted a study based on manualized mindfulness intervention.  This is based on breathing, soles of the feet, body scan, guided meditation, mindful stretching, and walking. The program was facilitated by experienced local health professionals who were supervised by LD practitioners from Pakistan and UK. Results indicated a significant level of improvement in the well-being of participants.

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