A common question I have got asked over the years is how people can help a friend who may have a hidden difference, or how can people get friends to understand them. It got me thinking and sometimes it can be as simple as just being a listening ear. I hope this blog helps some of you.
If you know someone who has a hidden difference in the mist of all the chaos especially when someone has dyspraxia it can look on the outside like a whole ball of tangled overwhelming chaos, it can be very difficult to understand what is going on especially when you can't see it. I've met a lot of people who want to understand but don't know how to go about it in the right way, or be condescending or do something wrong. There will always be ignorance, but there always be people who want to try and understand even if they don't know much.
One of the best things you can be is just a listening ear, listen to the person, firstly see the person, see their strengths, then see what they might find a little challenging. Neurodiversity is such a huge umbrella, so many people have various overlaps and may have more than one, it's so much than just the labels we are all different and that's what is important no two people are the same. Alongside the different way of thinking many people have issues with confidence and self esteem, anxiety maybe depression too. If we try and be a listening ear self esteem and confidence will rise and it will have an impact on achievement and success.
Listening in a non judgemental way can help someone find a voice which they maybe have never had before. Earlier in the week I was watching The Autistic Gardner and a lady called Victoria said it was the first time her views had been listened too. As someone who can struggle finding the right words to use sometimes, I know the feeling and value when someone gives you a chance to have a voice and you are heard, it can uncoil creative potential and a different way of viewing and seeing situations. At the Dyspraxia Foundation conferences I always see the relief sometimes the tears from parents, to finally have someone who has someone who will listen. I see it daily on facebook groups where parents of children with dyslexia/dyspraxia just want someone who will take the time to listen. Every week on Twitter #DDChat happens which connects neurodiversity across Twitter and gives everyone a chance to share their opinion and be heard. I have also found the Anxiety United community very good in providing a listening ear. It can take a lot of courage to open up especially when you feel too anxious to.
Listening can not just make someone feel better but can drive them to have the confidence to develop coping strategies and empower them to see their strengths. If someone is having a hard time listen, if someone is coming up against something or petrified of doing something and their anxieties are making it terrififying listen please don't judge. Your consideration and help might just be the one thing which can turn a friend, family members or child's life around. You are never alone- a huge thank you to all who have been a listening ear to me- it means so much to me.