This word Neurotypical came into my life when my son was 10 years old. It sounded weird and confusing but after a few months I started to understand. See I have 2 kids, one who is Complex and one who is Neurotypical. My Complex son is 3 years older than his Neurotypical sister.
Neurotypical means neurologically typical individuals of typical developmental, intellectual, and cognitive abilities. It is usually used to decipher between those with “normal” development, intellect, and abilities and those who may be labeled autistic, “on the Spectrum,” those with Sensory disorders, ADHD, and more.
Complex is a term I first learned about from www.ImpactParents.com and I really like it. It doesn’t have the stigma of saying my child has ADHD, “is on the Spectrum” or Autistic. It’s a term for anyone who doesn’t have that normal “Neurotypical” Development.
One more term to understand that may help you or a child you love.
EXECUTIVE FUNCTION: here it is defined straight from understood.org Child Learning Disabilities
Executive function is a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. We use these skills every day to learn, work, and manage daily life. Trouble with executive function can make it hard to focus, follow directions, and handle emotions, among other things.
Now one more thing to understand is that those with Executive function challenges will be easily 3-5 years behind their neurotypical peers in Executive function development which can overlap into their actual learning and of course maturity.
So let’s try to understand what that means to my family and my kids.
Complex son with ADHD (or what I like to call the Brilliant Creative Amazing people) struggles to read at a 2nd grade level at 10 years old, he has frequent meltdowns over small things, loses self control, and can only focus for short 10-20 minutes at a time.
Half day group classes like in a school setting will wear him out. He will get pale and a glazed look on his face after about the 90 minutes to 2 hour mark where you can see he has had enough.
Did I mention that from 6-10 that myself or someone else would have to be in our Homeschool group classes 2 times a week otherwise…I remember that one time when he decided to put his paper in the fire science experiment and almost caused a fire…SELF CONTROL is missing.
And now, add in growing, hormones, and puberty and the typical boy who already maybe doesn’t have the best judgement…well my neurotypical kid it’s even more of a battle. We laugh about most of them and correct of course, and many times the consequences lead to course correction like the time he decided to eat the entire pineapple we cut up after a large meal…his 2 hours in the bathroom seemed to correct some of that overindulging behavior.
Social skills were not innate and had to be learned and “Schooled” with some Occupational Therapy. But that has improved over the years. Still a work in process.
I remember when he started singing “Kiss the Girl” to our then 8 year old friends daughter, not really understanding how weird it was. Or when he started saying “OH I am in love” or other lines he learned from the Nickelodeon show “Bunked” to girls in his classes….Let’s just say that show has been banned and about 3 months of course correction done.
But my Complex son comes with so many amazing things too. People love his nature, he cares, gives incredible compliments, is loving, has an incredible imagination, has an incredible memory and can give a cute presentation, can hear a song once and harmonize the music, draws all the time although still at a 6 year old level it’s improves yearly and that right there I could cry over.
Now my “NEUROTYPICAL” daughter:
Loves school, somehow taught herself to read overnight, well not really, she had about 1 year of phonics and 3 years of listening to brother’s lessons. At 8 years old she walks around the house with books like the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. She makes friends pretty easy and understands what is appropriate and not appropriate. Can follow directions well, stays on task, loves homework, and for the most part is “normal”.
But I will say when she turned 8 and we had seen those same weird behaviors in my son like “Kiss the Girl.” She, too, started having some poor judgements, weird outbursts, and moodiness. So now I understand how hormones play a role in development too better.
So during this 11th year of my son’s life I am crying less, worried less, and encouraged more. I understand that he is not the same as his “Neurotypical friends.” He does have challenges, he is Complex, but now I have the knowledge and thanks to Impact Parents I am gaining the skills to help me, our family, and our son deal with it all.
If you have a kid or are an adult with Complex issues I encourage you to check out Impact Parents.
Thanks for listening a little bit about my struggles and victories. I pray for your parenting path and success and hope my words can help someone out there struggling too.
Lots of Love,
Mary Starr – The Total Wellness Doc & Mom