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  • Writer's pictureDr Shungu Hilda M’gadzah

Neurodiversity in Adoption, Fostering & Kinship: An intersectional approach

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

We are almost there! Join us on Monday for what promises to be a great conference! Tickets available on Eventbrite see link below.


I am finalising my key note presentation and have just looked at the slides from

#coram line up speakers. Wow! If you are a #teacher, #parent, #carer #socialworker #psychologist #youthjustice do not miss this conference.


So much rich information exploring the needs of neurodiverse adopted children and young people from the Global majority.


There are many young people and adults who have been through the care system who do really well, and we need to understand what the protective factors are .


Unfortunately many of these children can have so many challenges and hurdles to overcome. Taking an intersectional lens helps us to truly appreciate the magnitude of these disadvantages and how if the adults and professionals around them do not take time to understand, identify and diagnose their needs these can become barriers to them achieving positive outcomes and to being fully included in society.


We need to understand the opportunities and disadvantages these individuals may face.

A white child from a middle-class background is far more likely to have their special educational needs identified and for support to be put in place and opportunities provided thus increasing their chances of positive educational outcomes. The same child is more likely if they were in care to be adopted. They will then go on to achieve good GCSE grades and get a good career.

On the other hand, a black child is far less likely to have their needs identified in a timely fashion. They are more likely to be excluded from school and more likely to be stopped and searched... the disadvantages pile on.

The same child is less likely to be adopted. Thus paving the path for poor educational outcomes. They’re also more likely to be imprisoned.


If we then consider add on Neurodivergent conditions, for example, ASD or ADHD. A male white middle class child is more likely to have their needs identified earlier than their female counterpart and for support to be put in place, this enables them to achieve their potential by maximising their strengths and also helps them to manage their difficulties.


Neurodivergent children and young are less likely to have their needs identified in timely fashion and often there is the risk of misdiagnose.


In my work as a psychology expert witness, I come across young people and adults who have been charged with various crimes. Many of them are neurodivergent and the system has failed to identify their needs. Some have been through the care system. For many of these young people, the failure to identify their needs in a timely fashion creates vulnerable young adults who can be easily manipulated and groomed. They often make poor choices and are vulnerable to being incarcerated.


We need to understand the disadvantages which can exist for children in care and for those who have been through the care system. We need to recognise where the barriers are and how systemic failures can add to these children's difficulties thus resulting in poor education and mental health outcomes.


In order to do this effectively we need take a lens to our own biases #sixstagesconceptualframework and explore the intersection with race and how we view these children. Why do we continue to fail the most vulnerable children in society? Why we are slow to diagnose their needs -and misdiagnose.


I was working with a careers organisation recently who felt they could not really make any difference to the outcomes of these children. "We are a small cog in a larger system they said."


What about you? What actions are you taking to make a difference?






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