What is a neurodiversity affirming therapist?
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”
– Alexander Den Heijer
Have you heard the phrase neurodiversity affirming? Maybe neurodivergent affirming?
Neurodiversity has been getting a lot more attention on social media and for good reason! As a collective society we’re starting to see the tide change - moving away from seeing neurodivergent folks as people that need to be “fixed” to be like neurotypicals and acknowledging them to be exactly who they are - whole and worthy human beings who are not broken and in need of fixing.
As a society, progress is happening, but how can we differentiate between the people who are still holding onto outdated ideas about neurodiversity and those that are affirming when we are looking for a provider? As therapist who are affirming, we have adopted the label for ourselves of “neurodiversity affirming therapists.”
A neurodiversity affirming therapist should make you feel safe and welcomed just as you are - neurodivergence and all. We see neurodivergence as something that naturally occurs. While we all have things we want to work on - maybe it’s with social relationships or time management - we don’t see your neurodivergence as a deficit or defect. We acknowledge that your brain may work “differently” and want to work with your brain, not against it.
We also acknowledge that many neurodivergent individuals have been pushed into learning “appropriate” aka “neurotypical” behaviors and placed in social skills groups from a young age. Not only can this pressure to conform breed anxiety, we’re missing half of the conversation! For decades neurodivergent folks have been asked “How can you appear more neurotypical?” yet no one has asked neurotypical folks “How can you be more accepting of people who are different than you are?”
Neurodiversity affirming therapists can also help navigate parts of neurodiversity that people may not talk about as much such as rejection sensitive dysphoria, “time blindness”, sensory differences, and being under or over stimulated.
As a neurodiversity affirming therapist, my hope is that I can work with my clients on addressing underlying anxiety or depression (that very well may be stemming from navigating a neurotypical world) and cultivating a better relationship with their neurodivergence. Additionally, I want to do my part in helping society expand its perspective on neurodiversity and work to be more accepting and affirming.
Want to hear more about neurodiversity? I’m part of a panel of professionals speaking at Friends School of Wilmington about neurodiversity! We have professionals from multiple fields ready to answer your questions about neurodiversity! Below is a flyer of who to contact if you’re interested in attending in person or virtually. To get scheduled to work with me individually, please email firstname.lastname@example.org