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Show her she’s enough

Your young person might feel that they are neurodivergent in some way (find out what neurodivergent means here.)

They might not have a name for it, and they might not have a diagnosis. But maybe they just feel that their brain processes information a bit differently from other people. That’s perfectly ok.


At the moment, the world is more designed for people with neurotypical brains than people with neurodivergent brains. That’s just because it’s currently believed that there are more neurotypical people in the world. But lots of people are questioning that now. At least 20 out of every 100 people are neurodivergent – but we're sure there are more!


If you’re neurodivergent, it can be difficult living in a word that’s not yet designed for the way your brain works. Neurodivergent women often say that it feels that you’re always a step behind and can’t work out why – that you just don’t ‘do life’ as well as everyone else - and it feels like it's all your fault.

“I burst into tears saying, 'I am broken. There’s something wrong with me and I need you to work out what it is.' “I thought that I wasn’t a worthwhile human. And I genuinely thought that I would never be fixed.” Holly Smale, author (interview with the BBC)

A lot of girls we know say they have felt a bit like this too. But they often feel a lot better when they find out that the reason they feel different from others is because they are neurodivergent. That means that they just process information in a different, but equally valid, way from some of the other young people at school.


Knowing more about how your brain works and what you need to feel ok helps you be a bit kinder to yourself. Then you can get started on all the exciting things you dream about doing.

Ideas for building her self-esteem

  • Find age-appropriate role models online and books about people she can relate to.

  • Show joy when she walks into a room.

  • Compliment her on her 'out of the box' thinking, even if her ideas don't seem to make sense to you at the time.

  • Spend time just being near her quietly, but being fully present, so she can feel your physical energy. She'll realise that you enjoy her company and just ‘being’ with her, even when she’s not talking. 

  • Notice the ways she shows her deep empathy – these might not be in ways you expect. For example, she might feel other people’s emotions deeply in her body, although find it hard to express this feeling with words. Discuss with her all the different ways people show empathy. This will help her understand more how wonderfully empathic she is but also how those feelings affect her body. View blogger Jeremy Andrew Davis's TikTok video about different types of empathy.

  • Be honest about how you are feeling – don’t pretend you’re fine if you’re having a difficult day. She might be absorbing what you are feeling and think she's the cause of your sadness. This may be happening more than you realise. Let her know all of the other reasons that can cause you to have an 'off' day - draw a picture if that helps. 


  • Support her to have times she stops masking her neurodivergent traits safely, if she wants to. Show her that she's still loved when she does. Help her unmask safely.

  • Neurodivergent friendships and play look different from neurotypical friendships, and are just as valuable. This might include enjoying interests near each other without talking much, and sharing the energy of just being together. Check your own ideas of what friendships 'should' look like, lean back, and gently hold her connections in whatever way they show up. Find out about thinking differently about parenting, and help her find people she can be herself with

  • Ask about her passions, and really listen. Do some research so you can ask relevant questions but don’t take the conversation off somewhere else or turn it into learning - be led by her. If you don’t have the energy right then, be honest and let her know you'll come back to talk about it together soon (and make sure you do!). Connecting with someone she loves through one of her passions is brilliant for her wellbeing and can also help her release tension if she's feeling overwhelmed.

  • ​If she’s struggling with friendships at school, remind her that she is not solely responsible for the success or failure of social interactions. And that other people do not need to agree with or understand her boundaries in order to respect them. Find out more about helping her develop healthy connections



Explore more in this site:

#WeAreEnough film:

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