Does your child seem to have a different way of looking at things, or focuses intensely on particular subjects?
Have you noticed them face challenges in social settings or in forming relationships?
Do they struggle with maintaining focus, or do they frequently cause disruptions?
If you’ve noticed this type of behavior in your child, they may be neurodivergent.
Neurodiversity includes autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and other conditions related to the development of your child’s brain.
In the past, this was viewed as a negative thing, and therapeutic approaches were geared toward encouraging neurodiverse people to behave more like “neurotypical” people.
This isn’t an effective, or very ethical, approach.
Instead, neurodiversity affirming therapy looks at those with neurological conditions as having unique strengths and abilities rather than having deficiencies.
If your child is neurodivergent, we can help them understand their differences, focus on their strengths, and improve their daily function.
Here at Little Feet Therapy we offer pediatric therapies for autistic children so that they can grow up to be more happy, confident, and independent.
We also have pediatric therapies for children with ADHD and other forms of neurodivergence.
Let’s take a closer look at what exactly neurodiversity affirming therapy is and how it can help.
What Is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is a term that’s been around since the 1990’s.
Neurodiversity refers to numerous conditions that were labeled as disorders as neither good nor bad, but rather aspects of your child’s personality and their diverse skills and abilities.
Some types of neurodiversity you may have heard of include:
Why do we explain these conditions as “neurodiversity,” rather than “disabilities”?
It’s a way of seeking to understand how different types of people see and experience the world.
The idea is that your brain is entirely unique in comparison to anyone else’s.
This gives you a completely unique experience of viewing the world through your senses, relationships, and cognitive ability.
While those who are neurodiverse aren’t viewed as having a disability, the world was built for neurotypical people so they may still require accommodations and therapy in order for them to better interact with their environment.
If your child is neurodivergent, they may benefit from neurodiversity affirming therapy.
What Is Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy?
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid – author unknown
In the past, therapeutic approaches viewed neurodiversity as a negative thing to be “fixed” or “cured.”
The goal, often, was to teach neurodiverse children how to suppress their neurodiverse habits, but this rarely worked.
Beyond that, it ended up being harmful.
No cure has ever been found for any neurodivergence, and most experts agree such cures are unlikely to exist and not necessary.
That’s because they’re differences in cognitive development.
However, since the world was built for neurotypical people, neurodiverse children often need support to navigate the world effectively.
That’s what neurodiversity affirming therapy is for.
Neurodiversity affirming therapy views neurodivergence as just a natural part of the human experience.
It doesn’t try to fit everybody into the same neurotypical box.
It aims to understand how neurodiverse people navigate the world, and supports their particular abilities and strengths.
Neurodiversity affirming therapy looks to find ways to promote meaningful inclusion and participation within society.
Therapy can include strategies that focus to improve your child’s skills and confidence in:
- Speech and communication
- Developing social skills
- Gross motor skills
- Fine motor skills
- Building self care skills
- Regulating their sensory and emotional reactions
Your child has their own individual needs and desires, and neurodiversity affirming therapy seeks to accommodate them.
The goal of therapy is to support children in optimizing their daily function at school, at home, in play, and socially.
Why Is Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy Important?
Neurodiverse conditions, such as autism, can cause difficulties in social and communication skills.
Neurodiversity affirming therapy doesn’t view issues in social interaction as a deficit, but as a unique way of communicating.
The double empathy problem is a theory that addresses this barrier in communication, but not from a lack of empathy.
It suggests that someone who is neurodiverse and someone who is neurotypical both have different perspectives and experiences that affect their ability to understand each other.
By understanding that neurodiverse people have different ways of communicating, we can adjust our own communication methods.
Avoiding discriminatory or ableist language towards those with neurological conditions can help shift away from the idea that their neurodiversity is something negative.
Through acceptance and inclusion, those with neurodivergent conditions can be happy in who they are.
This can allow them to embrace their behaviors and focus on their positive traits and abilities.
That leads to them being better able to function and stay confident in various situations.
How Does Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy Help?
Neurodiversity affirming therapy doesn’t look at neurological differences as individual deficiencies.
These differences can take on a negative light because of social barriers and challenges in understanding and communication.
Instead, therapy focuses on adapting the social environment and social expectations.
It also works to improve individual skills and abilities.
It promotes self awareness that neurodiverse people’s brains function differently from other people.
It’s intended to help neurodiverse people improve themselves, advocate for themselves, and embrace their uniqueness as part of their identity.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways in which neurodiversity affirming therapy can help.
1. It Accepts Neurodiverse People As They Are
One of the key concepts of neurodiversity affirming therapy is affirmation.
It’s about encouraging neurodiverse people to see their differences as positive traits.
These differences aren’t a deficit, but a part of their identity.
Differences can relate to emotional and cognitive processing, self expression, sensory processing, social awareness, and more.
Neurodiversity looks at the variability of how the human brain functions.
In this way it can be seen as a natural human trait and a unique way of experiencing the world.
Neurodiversity affairming therapy doesn’t try to change the individual.
It’s an approach that tries to create understanding and education about people’s differences and how to create an accepting and inclusive environment.
It also helps neurodivergent people better understand themselves, their needs, and how to advocate for them.
2. It Emphasizes The Strengths Of Neurodiverse People
Neurodiverse people process information in different ways.
Based on the way their brain operates, they may appear to lack certain strengths and skills.
However, the approach of neurodiversity affirming therapy is to focus on what that person is good at rather than what they lack.
Depending on their condition, neurodiverse people can use their particular skills and perspectives as advantages.
Autistic people may be able to use their attention to detail and memory as an asset in music or computer programming, for example.
Those with ADHD may also be able to become hyper focused on specific tasks and complete them efficiently.
Creating an environment of acceptance, support, and accommodation, when required, can help neurodiverse people gain strength and confidence to be themselves and use their skills.
3. It Teaches Self Love And Self Compassion
Especially when it comes to neurodivergent children, it’s important that they build a positive sense of self.
Supporting their growth and development and embracing their uniqueness can help them build confidence and self love.
The goal of therapy isn’t to change someone who is neurodiverse to appear more neurotypical.
It’s to offer support, understanding, and compassion so that they can become the best version of themselves.
Through accepting and embracing your neurodiversity, you’re able to be proud of your unique traits and perspectives.
Neurodiverse affirming therapy seeks to make people feel equal and included instead of deficient or disabled.
Book Your Appointment With Little Feet Pediatric Therapy Today
Neurodiversity affirming therapy is important, but neurodiverse children can still face certain challenges.
At Little Feet Pediatric Therapy, we offer pediatric physical and occupational therapy for your neurodiverse child.
We want to work with your child so that they become the best version of themselves and feel confident and independent.
► 3535 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
► 1331 H St NW Ste 200, Washington, DC 20005
► St. Louis, MO
► Raleigh, NC
Founded in 2019, Little Feet Therapy offers on site pediatric physical and occupational therapy treatments for children from 2 months to 18 years old with physical and developmental concerns. Our clinics focus on providing therapy in a child’s natural setting where your child is in familiar surroundings, it puts their mind at ease and helps them focus more on the work they’re doing with their pediatric therapist. Our therapists will work with your child at your home, at school, at daycare, or another place in the community where they feel most comfortable.