To celebrate Autism Awareness Month (April), I personally wanted to explore the topic of neurodiversity further.

My interest in this topic was heightened massively, as a direct result of my friendship with Dez (aka LoveArtPix).

My knowledge of the varying neurodivergence conditions was very limited, until Dez opened my eyes to the struggles that he has personally faced throughout his whole life.

Dez’s own autism diagnosis wasn’t confirmed until he was in his forties, and unfortunately, Dez has been let down by the healthcare system continually.

This was despite his constant cries for help and a whole range of obstacles surrounding his undiagnosed neurodivergent condition.

Dez has always wanted to pinpoint and understand his own health conditions, but has sadly moulded himself over the years, in an attempt to dilute his condition and conform to a neurotypical society.

He – like many other neurodivergent individuals – has always felt that his masking was necessary – in order to fit into society’s ‘norm’ (and to avoid even more exclusion due to lack of understanding).

He also has to manage his daily triggers, anxieties and stresses, as best as he can.

The slightest set-back, disappointment or change of plan for a neurotypical person, can be a very stressful spiral for a neurodivergent person.

Masking and other coping mechanisms were self-taught and developed by Dez over years (and years) of personal struggles. 

The brutal reality however, is that this masking can more often than not, be to his detriment, with people often seeing him as capable, confident and knowledgeable. 

So how can he be struggling?!” is the question that people may ask!

Speaking with Dez has opened up my eyes to the emotions and set-backs that SO many neurodivergent individuals face, as part of their own daily life.

There is still so much work to do for our neurodivergent community, that it is going to take a lot of awareness and passion, to make the positive changes that are needed to make it a more inclusive society.

Although there are many courses, workshops and support groups that focus on mental health topics, Dez informs me that the structure of such resources is often built with the neurotypical brain in mind.

There is a lack of robust support and focused education that pinpoints the true depth of neurodivergent brains.

A celebratory month is indeed of high importance (and of true value) but the real change lies in targeted studies, kindness, patience and open mindedness.

On a positive note…

Although Dez sadly faces many more daily challenges that I have not even touched on, it is his life experiences that have propelled him to make a change in today’s neurodivergent world.

His amazing artwork, charity work and passion for helping others, truly is changing lives for the better! 

Dez is an absolute pleasure and always strives for positivity and gratitude, regardless of what he is facing internally.

I wanted to support Dez, by collaborating on some creative and exciting projects, so that I can support him in spreading the word and help make even more of a change together – for the neurodivergent children and adults of the future.

You can follow Sarah on social media platforms @themagicalworldofyou