In a world that pushes us to think alike and act alike, our team at Roman Empire Agency wants to embrace our differences. It’s amazing the unique ways people think, act, and behave.
In this blog on neurodiversity affirming therapy, we’ll look at the following:
- What is neurodiversity affirming therapy?
- What are the five aspects which neurodiversity focuses on?
- Examples of neurodiversity affirming therapy
- What are the different types of neurodiversity affirming therapy?
- How to help your child neurodiversity affirming therapy
What Is Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy?
Neurodiversity affirming therapy (neurodivergent affirming therapy) is a form of treatment that aims to empower neurodivergent people through building skills and focusing on strengths. It focuses on developing essential abilities while reassuring neurodivergent individuals that they don’t have a “flaw” or need to be “fixed.”
What Are The Five Aspects Which Neurodiversity Focuses On?
Neurodiversity focuses on the following disorders: ADHD, autism, dyslexia, hyperlexia, and dyspraxia.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that causes more significant challenges with focus and impulsivity. This can make it more difficult to pay attention to learning due to differences in brain function. With neurodiversity affirming practices, kids can learn strategies to enhance learning while keeping in mind that ADHD doesn’t define them.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are neurological and developmental disorders that affect a child’s communication, learning, and behaviors. In neurodiversity, autism is embraced as a unique way of viewing the world through one’s thoughts and actions.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects a child’s ability to read. It’s more challenging to identify speech sounds and decode letters and words. This disorder results from atypical differences in the brain’s language processing. Neurodiversity emphasizes that dyslexia doesn’t decrease intelligence in any way but instead changes how they process information.
Hyperlexia occurs in children whose reading abilities are beyond their chronological age. They may be referred to as “gifted” because of their advanced skills.
Children with hyperlexia may be placed in special education or learning programs separate from their peers, which can lead to feeling “different.” Neurodiversity reminds them that their advanced abilities are significant advantages in their education journey and an area they have strengths in, just as everyone else has their own unique strengths.
Dyspraxia is a developmental coordination disorder that affects a child’s movement, balance, and coordination. This can lead to challenges with physical tasks like playing sports or learning to drive a car. It’s easy for a child with dyspraxia to compare their progress in learning physical skills to neurotypical people’s progress. Neurodiversity looks at their strengths, rather than focusing on where they’re struggling, and incorporates these into building skills (e.g., using creativity to develop new approaches to walking downstairs.
Examples Of Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy
Neurodiversity affirming therapy can look like many things. The goal is to create an environment of acceptance and understanding while empowering a child to develop important skills. Some examples include:
- Listening to verbal and nonverbal cues
- Providing personal space and breaks
- Incorporating sensory tools
- Teaching self-advocacy skills
- Creating a curriculum based on the child’s wants and needs
- Creating a curriculum based on the child’s learning style
- Eliminating the idea of “fixing” or “suppressing” a condition
What Are The Different Types Of Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy?
Speech therapy can incorporate forms of communication the child prefers as a means of empowerment and self-advocacy—for example, verbal or nonverbal communication or AAC devices. Rather than pushing a mainstream form of communicating, the child gets the opportunity to try different ways of expressing themselves and working on the method they like best.
Occupational therapy focuses on motor skills used in daily life. A therapist can use neurodiversity affirming strategies by putting a plan in place to build important skills while establishing the child’s value as they are. They’re reminded that they are outstanding the way they are, there are no neurotypical standards, and there’s no “end goal” but rather ongoing learning.
Physical therapy works to improve a child’s movements and capabilities that have been impacted due to an injury or illness. Neurodiversity affirming therapists help their patient strengthen their physical skills while reminding them they’re equal to everyone else regardless of their progress.
How To Help Your Child Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy
You may feel stuck between wanting to get your child additional support and not wanting to make them feel different or inadequate. With neurodiversity affirming therapy, your child learns healthy ways of developing life skills while being reminded that they’re not defined by a condition or disorder. Along with professional services from licensed therapists, you can practice neurodiversity affirmations at home with your child with the following:
- Show interest in their interests
- Encourage self-regulating activities
- Enforce positive reinforcement
- Create a safe space at home (sensory toys, quiet areas, open conversation about neurodiversity)
- Do activities they enjoy together
- Focus on their strengths
- Use a variety of learning aids (pictures, charts, models, etc.)