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Next week is Neurodiversity Celebration Week (16 - 20 March). Launched last year by UK teen, Sienna Castellon, it celebrates the differences in brain wiring that makes us all part of an interesting and valuable society. It challenges the belief that neurodiversity is a disease and suggests that rather than curing or fixing what makes us neurodiverse, we should seek to accept and support these differences.

These differences can include those labeled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others.

Here's some neurodiverse TV and movie characters that you may have seen:

* Dr Shaun Murphy in The Good Doctor - Dr Murphy is a surgeon at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital and has a dual diagnosis of autism and savant syndrome. His photographic memory, attention to detail and awkward social skills make for some interest patient situations!

* Dory in Finding Nemo - although officially suffering with short term memory loss, Dory's short attention span, tendency to get distracted and impulsiveness are characteristics that parents of ADHD children may have seen before.

* Matilda in Everything's Gonna Be Ok - played by Kayla Cromer, Matilda is the first character on the spectrum to be played by an actor with autism. It's also awesome to see the portrayal of a female character with autism!

* Rain Man - this classic movie features Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant and Tom Cruise as his brother. In previous times, this level of functioning was what many people associated with autism. We now know the spectrum of autism and how each person experiences their neurodiversity in a different way.

* Atypical - this Netflix fan favourite follows the life of an 18 year old with autism named Sam. The show has evolved over three seasons with constant tweaks to how they portray autism with fans and critics responding positively. We really enjoyed watching the ups and downs of this show, seeing the laughs and challenges of Sam, as well as the depiction of the parents and sibling perspectives as they face the joys and struggles that come with living in a neurodiverse family.

* Brick from The Middle - Brick is the youngest child of this quirky family and although the show doesn't talk about a formal diagnosis, Brick demonstrates ticks, areas of interest and social difficulties that are seen in neurodiverse children.

* Cartman - South Park - Cartman pretends to have Tourette Syndrome to be able to say whatever he wants, but this ends up making him say his thoughts aloud, even when he doesn't mean to. The episode, though controversial, was generally considered to be a factual representation of the syndrome (even if slightly exaggerated).

At Out Loud Developmental Services, we are committed to providing therapy tailored to the needs of all our clients, to maximize their potential and contribute to living their best life!

More about Sienna & Neurodivertiy Celebration Week....

Sienna is a 17 year old neurodiversity advocate. She is autistic, dyslexic and dyspraxic and had ADHD.

I want to flip the narrative so that instead of perceiving learning differences as something negative, we focus on the many strengths and advantages that come from seeing and perceiving the world differently.


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