Be Your Best Academy: a new educational program developed by 100% neurodivergent professionals
If you are like 69% of parents who feel their neurodivergent kids are not learning adequate life skills, or you are a neurodivergent person who feels out of place or lacking in that special “adulting” knowledge of the wider world, maybe a new educational program developed by 100% neurodivergent professionals can help?
Life skills are quite literally ‘skills for life’; but sadly, many neurodivergent people arrive at adulthood feeling a bit out of place, without this essential knowledge.
Identified by the World Health Organization as “skills required to deal with the demands and challenges of everyday life”, they name the ten core life skills as self-awareness, critical thinking, problem solving, creative thinking, decision-making, interpersonal relationship, empathy, effective communication, coping with stress, and coping with emotions.
While education is meant to teach a lot of these skills (through the ‘social studies’ curriculums), many of these skills are osmotic; that is, they are learned through modelling social behaviours and in the typical development of a child.
Being a neurodivergent person means an atypical life experience, and often, a complete disconnect or lack of awareness around osmotic learning.
For autistic children, social skills and unspoken rules of society are rarely ‘picked up’ in childhood, despite their (often) highly detailed thought patterns and focus. For dyslexic children, social cues may also be missed, and they may have a more immature outlook than their peers which can lead to a poor self-image. For ADHD children, non-verbal cues and body language can be overlooked and tone of voice not perceived. For children with Tourette’s Syndrome, difficulties can also arise in the interpersonal sphere, as well as understanding impulse control with respect to social situations. Overall, neurodivergent children struggle, and asking them to then just ‘pick up’ unspoken rules and expected life skills is, in fact, rather insensitive.
So, a gap exists.
We can see that there are many neurodivergent children who reach adulthood feeling isolated, sad, confused, and / or frustrated about their lack of knowledge in key areas of life skills.
There are many other thoughts and worries that may pass the minds of neurodivergent adults, but these are some common concerns: ‘How do I find a new location without getting lost?’, ‘How do I cook food safely?’, ‘How can I plan my time and be productive?’, ‘What is a relationship/ sex/ intimacy, and how do I get it?’, ‘How can I manage my panic attacks/ depression/ anxiety?’ and ‘What’s the problem if I don’t shower for a week?’.
If you are reading this as a typical adult, you may be surprised at such questions. Perhaps you think these are obvious or clear. Alas, this is the problem. It may not be clear to neurodivergent people.
This life skills conundrum is exacerbated by reactions from society. If a neurodivergent adult does not know how to be organized or how to manage their personal hygiene, who can they speak to about it? Will this person receive specialized, neurodivergent-friendly techniques and assistance, or will they be made to feel “broken” and “defective”? Where can they find help without misinformation or ridicule? Where is a safe place to approach the topic and be met with complete support, love, and kindness?
In 2018, a group of caring minds came together to address this problem. The solution was to design, write, illustrate, and publish a set of life skills courses for the neurodivergent community. They decided to follow the strong community approach of ‘Nothing For Us, Without Us’.
This slogan calls for inclusion. It firmly asserts that if any policy is to be decided that will affect a specific group in the community, that a representative of that group ought to be directly involved.
It was this perspective that caused the change from ‘created for the neurodivergent community by typical professionals’, to ‘being created by a neurodivergent community for the neurodivergent community’.
In the middle of 2018, the first autistic person was hired who would design the core curriculum of life skills materials. By the end of 2018, another autistic person was hired, then another. By 2020/2021, a number of individuals from a range of neurominorities are involved, including: autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD, anxiety, depression, complex PTSD, and others.
What sets the work apart is the fact that these materials are researched, written, and designed by a complete team of neurodivergent individuals. There are those with higher degrees, and those without degrees, people with severe ‘functioning’ issues and more capable levels.
Working together and supporting each other, this team presents courses that go in-depth into the topic. For example, in the Organizational Skills course series, you will learn about music history, fractals, planning skills and even chaos theory! Everything shown relates to the topic, which gives learners a holistic education and the chance to really understand; leaving no stone unturned.
The curriculum is slowly appearing online, with courses that range from Organizational Skills to Self-Development, Setting Goals to Cooking Basics, Emotional Intelligence and Managing Change, Presentation Skills and Relationship courses: Making Friends, Love & Intimacy and Dating & Relating. The team at Be Your Best Academy are committed to designing courses that are relevant, compassionate and offer lots of different ways for experiencing, engaging and learning these necessary life skills at a self-directed pace.
Be sure to read the tabs at the top of the page including the one called, ‘About Us’ as it shows a long list of all the staff involved, their education, and their diagnoses.
We think this is a worthy curriculum and we long for the days that these courses become standard across the globe, so every neurodivergent person can feel included, accepted and welcomed into the world with a solid knowledge of life skills.
Untapped Holdings Pty Ltd