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  • Sarah Jones, S-LP

5 Reasons to Consider a Neurodiversity-Affirming Therapy Approach for Your Child


Neurodiversity is a term that describes brain differences (such as ADHD, autism and dyslexia) as naturally-occurring variations in the human population. It views brain differences not as something to be “cured” or “fixed”, but rather as a natural and accepted difference from those who are “neurotypical”. In neurodiversity-affirming therapy, we aim to provide therapeutic support and accommodations which allow the individual to be successful and learn new skills in ways that work best for their unique brain and learning style.


So what does a neurodiversity-affirming therapist do that can benefit you or your child?


1. Use a Strengths-Based Approach

In therapy we focus on the individual’s unique strengths, interests, and abilities in order to build on and learn new skills, rather than on their deficits. Rather than using special interests as an extrinsic reward contingent upon task compliance, we utilize a client’s strengths and interests to support internal (intrinsic) motivation for a task and meet the individual where they are at.


2. Presume Competence

We view all children and individuals as competent thinkers and learners regardless of their

neurotype. Accommodations are used to help each individual person succeed in areas which

they may require more support. This ties in with access to Assistive and Augmentative

Communication (AAC) methods or devices which can provide a person with the tools they need to communicate in ways that are not dependent on the ability to speak orally.


3. Respect Bodily Autonomy

We do not use hand-over-hand or physical manipulation of another person’s body to gain task compliance. Instead, we use frequent modelling of therapy targets during activities in which the client is highly interested and engaged.


4. Value Emotional Regulation over Compliance

Rather than focusing on compliance and extrinsically-motivated rewards in sessions, we use

environmental supports to teach emotional regulation, perspective-taking (for both the client and therapist), and self-advocacy skills. Rather than modifying resistance behaviours, we aim to modify the task or activity so that it is more accessible to the client.


5. Focus on Relationship-Centered Care

We believe each person involved in a client’s care - including caregivers, therapists, and the

client themselves, hold an equally important and valuable role in the development of goals,

supports, and outcomes for an individual. There is a strong focus on building both an accepting and trusting therapeutic relationship between the therapist, client, and family unit.


Which of the above points struck you as something your child might benefit from?


If you are interested in your child working with a speech-language pathologist who is neurodiversity-aligned in their approach, complete our online form today to get connected with our team: www.wecommunicateslp.com/get-in-touch


Blog Post Adapted from Handout:

Murison, S., & Jeffrey, K. (2021). Advocacy in action: What does it mean to be neurodiversity-affirming? https://play-spark.com/educational-handouts

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