Every day our Waymakers are out in the world advocating for and empowering the Neurodiverse Collective.
Find out what we’re up to and talking about below.

A Teenage Nightmare?

Renee Rosales, co-founder of two of Arizona’s first virtual schools, says that before the pandemic, virtual learning was typically a resource for those with learning challenges. “We had utilized online education primarily as an alternative education opportunity for kids, and when COVID happened, it became the mainstay.” In this way, it was an unintentional experiment in how kids learn best.

Every child is unique, and this meant that some teens excelled in online learning while others floundered. Rosales, who has launched Theara, an organization designed to support neuro-diverse learners, explains that some students — especially those who are neuro-diverse — preferred at-home learning as they didn’t have to cope with teasing or bullying. Differences such as ticks or disabilities were not as apparent in online classrooms, which gave kids with exceptionalities the space to focus on assigned work rather than navigating social challenges and sharing space with others.

How to Deal With Sensory Overload in Children

 Renee Rosales M.Ed, founder and CEO of Theara, says that experiencing sensory overload can be frightening for children. “For anyone experiencing this it can be overwhelming, and this is especially true of children who are still learning to regulate their emotions,” says Rosales. “Sensory overload is a common occurrence among those who are neurodiverse and can be particularly frightening for neurodiverse children.” 


Accessibility 101: Navigating College with a Disability

Knowledge is power, and the more information you have about your specific needs, as well as potential support available, the better,” said Renee Rosales, a neurodiversity, education, and advocacy expert and founder of Theara, an organization that supports neurodiverse students. “Do your research and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for what help is available to you.”

Theara CEO and founder, Renee Rosales, agrees. “Body doubling isn’t just a tool for ADHD. It can actually work for anyone and can help relieve stress or anxiety,” she says.

Sick at Home: Quiet Activities so You Can Work

Neurodiverse Children Sick at Home
When you have a large family, and throw neurodiversity into the mix, the challenges of keeping sick children entertained are magnified. “As a mother of five, I have dedicated my life to caring for my children, and never has this been more challenging than when one or more of my beloved kids is sick,” says Renee Rosales M.Ed., Founder and CEO of Theara. “In my case, we also add neurodiversity into the mix, which makes it even more important for me to find successful ways to keep my kids entertained, especially if they are unwell.”

Rosales likes to go with the theme of being sick at home by having her children play hospital. “If you have more than one child, they can take turns being doctor and patient, or you can set up a hospital full of stuffed animals. When they tire, and need to rest, playing patient is ideal,” says Rosales who cautions that parents should be prepared to divvy out lots of “unnecessary Band-Aids.”

6 Ways Small-Business Owners Can Consider Mental Health Benefits

Wanda Tompkins, director of operations at Theara – a company focused on helping neurodiverse adults better engage with one another and their environments – encourages companies to explore the potential benefits of tech for employee mental wellness.

You can offer premium subscriptions to popular wellness apps at a low annual cost, and employees get the benefit of private moments to focus on their well-being. Some popular apps with small-business solutions include Calm for Business, Talkspace for Business, Twill for Business. 

    ADHD Body Doubling

    Theara CEO and founder Renee Rosales agrees. “Body doubling isn’t just a tool for ADHD. It can actually work for anyone and can help relieve stress or anxiety,” she says.

    How Skipping Breakfast Can Negatively Affect Your Child’s Physical and Mental Health

    Chris Tompkins, an associate psychologist with online education company Theara, told Healthline eating in a calm, safe environment can be helpful in promoting mindful eating.

    “Mindful eating allows us to tune into our body’s natural hunger and fullness signals, and to appreciate and enjoy eating,” Tompkins said. “Eating more slowly and consciously aids digestion and promotes satisfaction, and being in the home environment can support this. Eating in an environment where a person feels stressed, hurried, or self-conscious, often has a detrimental impact on their eating experience, digestion, and wellbeing.”

    Tompkins said low blood sugar after hours of sleeping causes “tiredness, irritability, and low mood, so from a mental health perspective it’s important to address this.”

    “Teens are especially susceptible to body image issues and eating disorders,” he added. “They are under increasing pressure to look a certain way, and unrealistic body standards are being perpetuated by advertising and social media. Eating a nutritious breakfast together can help to mitigate the impact of this.”