The Superpower of Neurodivergence

‘A thank-you letter to my mum and also a love letter to science’ … Camilla Pang.

Dr Camilla Pang has won the prestigious Royal Society science book prize for her study of the complexities of human behaviour seen from an autistic viewpoint.

A neurodiversity advocate with a PhD in cancer bioinformatics, an insightful speaker and author of “Explaining Humans“, she has written an instruction manual for life from the perspective of someone with autism, ADHD and generalised anxiety disorder.

The prize is intended to “promote the accessibility and joy of popular science books to the public”. 

Pang “provides insights into different ways of thinking and the challenges of being neurodiverse in a ‘normal’ world”.

She believes understanding and support can change someone’s life, by seeing what a person is, as opposed to what they should be.

Read the article here

The benefits of an early Asperger diagnosis

An Asperger diagnosis is not just a label; it can give the clarity and strength to articulate one’s needs to others.

Autism in women is diagnosed later than in men and much less often. This doesn’t mean there are less women than men with autism, only that women are better able to mask their difference. They often end up struggling in silence and being overlooked.

In this article, the writer explains how her Autism spectrum disorder is inseparable from who she is, and why she wishes it hadn’t taken so long to find out.

Advice to young Aspergers: “Carry on, it will be worth it!”

Camilla Pang

Prize-winning author Camilla Pang talks about her autism and ADHD diagnoses and her desire to challenge myths about neurodiversity.

In this interview, Camilla offers refreshingly positive views on the creative potential of Aspergers: their capacity to think out of the box, see patterns, connect the dots and potentially come up with new understandings and knowledge in their field.

“… even if you’re challenged by the system, that’s just a reminder that you’re built to make a new one!”

Click here to read her interview in The Guardian (28/11/20)

Is everyone a little bit autistic?

How often have we seen or heard the phrase: ‘Everyone is a little bit autistic”? Unfortunately this is totally misinformed and only serves to trivialise the experience of those diagnosed with the condition.

Although autism is said to be a spectrum, this doesn’t mean that you can move from being mildly to severely affected.

Autism is a spectrum of 7 intertwined neurological conditions.

  • Pragmatic language: social communication including body language, eye contact, small talk and turn taking in conversation.
  • Social awareness: ability to pick up etiquette, social norms, taboos. Includes ability to form and maintain relationships.
  • Monotropic mindset: narrow but intense ability to focus, resulting in “obsessive” interests and difficulty task switching.
  • Information processing: ability to assimilate and apply new information quickly.
  • Sensory processing: difficulty in interpreting sensory information (hyper/ or hyposensitivity to stimuli).
  • Repetitive behaviours.
  • Neuro motor skills: ability to control body movements.

Autistic people share to some degree all or most of the above conditions. So, if you are affected in only one or two of those areas, you are not autistic!

For a person to be considered autistic, they must have difficulties in multiple categories spanning the spectrum. Diagnosis depends on evidence that you are affected strongly enough in more than one category and that this is disabling in some way.

C.L. Lynch

People with autism who can speak for themselves and have control over their body are generally classified as having ‘high functioning autism’. However this is a definition based on how someone’s autism affects others; the severity of autism being judged on how it affects neurotypical people’s quality of life.

In this article, C.L. Lynch explains that while her autism may affect those around her mildly, she feels severely affected by it. Having to live with autism in a neurotypical world is mentally exhausting – whether you have what’s considered severe, mild or high functioning autism.

The visibility of a particular trait of autism doesn’t make one person more autistic than another. “Don’t assume the stranger we are, the ‘more autistic’ we are”. You either are, or aren’t autistic.

Erasmus+ project

Really excited to announce that I will be participating in a 2 year Erasmus+ project , researching ways to improve the learning experience of students with Asperger.

In partnership with Godalen college, Norway, and 5 other European partners, I will be coordinating research in Spain for this E.U. funded venture.

The project aims to develop an innovative teacher training programme to equip educators with the knowledge and tools they require to improve Asperger students’ learning experience, enabling them to thrive and develop to their fullest potential at school. 

Given an environment that respects their unique way of seeing and experiencing the world, I sincerely believe that Asperger students can flourish and prove to be a real asset for any school.

Throughout the project, I will be representing Sotogrande International School (SIS) where I work as an Autism learning support specialist. SIS is a truly inclusive organisation in Spain, which lives up to the motto that “No student should be left behind”.

Very much looking forward to working with representatives from other European countries, and sharing years of experience, study and passion for Asperger students.