Neurodiversity adhd autism

Neurodiversity and neuro-affirming approach (in ADHD and Autism)

“Neurodiversity, which means recognizing and celebrating the diversity of brain makeups instead of pathologizing some as “normal” and others as “abnormal.” (From ”Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You” by Jenara Nerenberg )

In other words: Neurodiversity refers to differences in brain functioning. 

No two brains are the same; as such, we need to recognise the unique ways different brains work. Neurodiverse is the opposite of a neurotypical (average/ mostly represented ) brain.  

If you are an ADHDer or an autistic person, you are neurodivergent, and you have unique struggles and strengths different to a neurotypical person. 

With neurodiversity comes a neuro- affirming approach, which means we move from “deficit” based languages used mainly in the medical world to a language of strengths, differences and uniqueness. 

In their report Eating Disorders Neurodiversity Australia, provides us with this definition: 

“Neurodiversity-affirming – An approach or framework founded on the principles of the neurodiversity paradigm, valuing and respecting neurodivergence and prioritising inclusivity and acceptance.”

In short- we want to focus on the strengths, uniqueness and beauty of all brains. 

When using Neurodiversity-Affirming Therapy we make sure we are making appropriate accommodations and adjustments within existing therapeutic modalities (including EMDR therapy) which are aligned with the way a Neurodivergent brain thinks.

It makes me angry that there is even a need to name this. It makes me angry that so many people focus on a deficit-based/ medicalised approach. It makes me angry that we still need to fight for those differences to be respected. So I go with the anger and I do what I can – I spread the news and I educate people. We need all kind of brains, all brains are beautiful. 

If you want to explore it more, here are a few great books on that topic:  

Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You by Jenara Nerenberg

Is This Autism?: A Guide for Clinicians and Everyone Else

Been There. Done That. Try This!: An Aspie’s Guide to Life on Earth

Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism

And here are the principles of the neurodiversity paradigm: 

  1. Reframe your understanding of Autism & ADHD using Neurodiversity-Affirming principles
  2. Reflect upon the language used to describe Neurodivergent people and whether it is ableist
  3. Make conscious efforts to switch to strengths-based and de-pathologising language
  4. Embed your practise within the Social Model of Disability and challenge Medical Model frameworks
  5. Begin to view Neurodivergence as a natural variance in human neurocognition
  6. Address internalised ableism and reflect on how you still carry these beliefs
  7. View ‘disorder’ as caused by a mismatch between the person’s abilities and demands of the environment
  8. Understand that Autism and ADHD cannot be ‘cured’ and do NOT need to be!
  9. Don’t pathologise Autistic and/or ADHD traits. Accept differences in social communication
  10. Base treatment goals on what the person wants or needs, not on ‘fixing’ their neurotype
  11. Respect that Neurodivergent people have their own culture and communities
  12. Be led by the voices and lived experiences of Neurodivergent people themselves
  13. Critically evaluate information sources Were views of Neurodivergent people themselves captured?
  14. Enable Neurodivergent people with lower verbal or cognitive abilities to have their views heard
  15. Reject treatment approaches which teach Neurotypical social skills at cost of Neurodivergent ones
  16. The language used should match the preferences of the client/community e.g., identity-first ‘Autistic’

  17. Neurodivergent communication needs are respected including; reduced speaking, eye contact

  18. Set realistic expectations for tasks requiring executive functioning so the person can participate

  19. Acknowledge and accommodate for sensory sensitivities and differences

  20. Maintain commitment to continued learning and professional development and address ableist ideas

Adult Autism Assessment

We use neuro-affirming approach in our autism assessment