What does it mean to be Neurodiversity Affirming?
- Neurodiversity simply explains the natural variations in the brain. In this sense, neurodiversity is not seen as a disorder or deficit that needs to be “fixed”. It is recognized as a spectrum and a natural part of life.
- This is an important perspective to promote to increase acceptance. Neurodivergent individuals are often misunderstood, marginalized, and discriminated against. Neurodiversity includes but is not limited to individuals on the autism spectrum (ASD) and those who have ADHD. While neurodiversity includes variations in brain wiring, supporting the mental health of individuals, families, and couples living with ASD and ADHD is my specialty at ABC Behavioral Services.
- Neurodiversity is a part of human diversity. Those who identify as neurodivergent don’t need to be molded into neurotypical norms.
- Like any new affirming and accepting perspective, this is still not widely accepted.
A Neurodiversity-Affirmative Approach to Supporting Mental Health
- When looking for a therapist to support your mental health, it’s important to find one that is neurodiversity-affirmative in their approach so you can be seen and heard, and who supports your authenticity.
- Therapy should focus on identifying individual strengths and unique abilities that help autistic individuals tap into the amazing people they already are!
- Therapy should help autistic’s modify and set up environments so that they can be successful in meeting their personal goals.
- An autism psychotherapist should support learning self-advocacy skills so that autistic individuals can create opportunities that help them thrive instead of trying to mask and fit into neurotypical “norms”. This is an exhausting process for autistic individuals and can greatly impact their mental health and how they feel about themselves and in their lives.
- Therapy should support building healthy relationships. This is an area that is often a challenge for neurodivergent individuals, families, and couples. I believe that deep healing and well-being happens in the context of relationships. Autistic individuals often come to therapy feeling misunderstood in their relationships and also may have a long history of being targeted, bullied, or mistreated due to their autism. We can work together towards helping you find a supportive network of individuals who accept you and love you for who you are! We can also work on learning skills to help you work towards navigating relationships with neurotypicals to foster and cultivate healthy, real, authentic, and loving relationships in your life.
- Therapy should also focus on learning coping skills to support your mental health, self-care, and wellness. Being a neurodivergent individual in a neurotypical world is hard. There is still a lot of work to be done collectively in the world to promote autism acceptance. You are not alone. Find a therapist who is neurodiversity-affirmative in their approach, who is highly skilled in working with neurodivergent individuals, and one who will partner with you (not try to fix you), celebrate your strengths, and help you as you work towards living a more authentic and meaningful life.
As always, if you have made it this far in my blog post, thank you for spending your valuable time reading this. This awareness and acceptance is something that I am very passionate about (personally and professionally) and will continue to post more on this topic! If you would like more information on how I can be of support in embracing and living with neurodiversity while supporting your mental health, please reach out for a FREE-30 minute phone consultation.