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Xboxes and PlayStations: The World Through The Lens Of Neurodivergence

By By Alexis Ecoff, LMFT

“Think of it like comparing an Xbox and a PlayStation,” neurodiversity advocate Ethan Lisi says in a TED Talk. “They’re both highly capable consoles with different programming. But if you put your Xbox game in a PlayStation, it won’t work, because the PlayStation communicates differently.”

Sometimes, the world can feel like that to a neurodivergent child. But neurodiversity advocates explain the broad range of both experiences and gifts that come with different ways of thinking — as well as ways to help make different perspectives more compatible.

Here are 4 categories to think through when trying to better understand a neurodivergent child:

Unique perspectives and experiences

Children’s neurological wiring influences how they perceive and interact with the world. Understanding and appreciating these unique perspectives, ways of processing, or sensitivities forms a supportive environment that honors the individuality of a neurodivergent child. Here’s an example: Large parties may be stressful for people with autism, but for different reasons, Lisi says — for one it may be because of loud noises, for another because of overlapping conversations, bright lights, strong smells, or gooey textures. 

Strengths and talents

Renowned autism advocate and author Temple Grandin described photo-realistic visual thinkers who think in images, pattern thinkers who excel in subjects such as music and math, and verbal thinkers who readily absorb facts. Grandin used her image thinking to make tremendous contributions to the livestock industry. Neurodivergent children often possess a wealth of strengths and talents that stem from their neurological differences — perhaps exceptional creativity, attention to detail, problem-solving skills, or a deep passion for a certain subject. Recognizing and nurturing those strengths bolsters self-esteem and confidence and enriches the world.

Challenges and support needs

Different perspectives can mean challenges such as difficulty in social interaction and communication, in managing sensitivities, or in navigating academic environments. Tailored support and accommodations — such as access to specialized therapies, educational accommodations, assistive technologies, or social skills training — can help neurodivergent children thrive.

Empathy and understanding

The world may not always understand or accommodate unique needs and experiences, which can lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, or marginalization. Cultivating empathy and understanding among peers, educators, and caregivers helps create inclusive environments in which neurodivergent children feel valued, supported, and accepted for who they are. Parents may benefit from expert training to support a neurodivergent child and to help that child navigate life’s complex situations. 

All this effort is worthwhile — for the child and for the world

“The world is going to need all of the different kinds of minds to work together,” Grandin said in a 2010 TED Talk . “We’ve got to work on developing all these different kinds of minds.”

Prithvi Singh

Seasoned Technical Product Manager, focusing on product strategy, roadmap development, and data-driven decision-making. Hands-on experience in implementing and optimizing machine learning algorithms in various projects