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What Is “Neurodiversity-Affirming” Care, Anyways?

To my fellow parents of autistic children, and my fellow helping professionals working with autistic individuals:

You’ve heard that we should be “embracing neurodiversity.”

You might be curious what “neurodiversity-affirming care” for autistic people really means.

You may have wondered if this term simply refers to care created with good intentions those people receiving it. You might wonder why the term is even needed, because, well, wouldn’t all services with the stated purpose of helping autistic people be neurodiversity-affirming?

You might be wondering if the training, services, or professionals you have encountered and engaged with so far are neurodiversity-affirming. You sure hope they have been – because you want the best for your child, patients, clients, or students.

So, what is neurodiversity-affirming care, anyways?

It’s a question that in my opinion takes more than a blog post to answer (which is why I’ve created an on-demand webinar for people interested in the topic), but it all comes down to this:

Neurodiversity-affirming care is care that aligns with the principles of the neurodiveristy paradigm and that empowers neurodivergent individuals to understand and self-advocate for their access needs.

If we want to know what neurodiversity-affirming care is, how to find it, and how to provide it, we need to understand the neurodiversity paradigm.

What is the neurodiversity paradigm?

From Dr. Nick Walker, a leader in the field of critical autism studies:

“The neurodiversity paradigm is a specific perspective on neurodiversity – a perspective or approach that boils down to these fundamental principles:

1.) Neurodiversity is a natural and valuable form of human diversity.

2.) The idea that there is one “normal” or “healthy” type of brain or mind, or one “right” style of neurocognitive functioning, is a culturally constructed fiction, no more valid (and no more conducive to a healthy society or to the overall well-being of humanity) than the idea that there is one “normal” or “right” ethnicity, gender, or culture.

3.) The social dynamics that manifest in regard to neurodiversity are similar to the social dynamics that manifest in regard to other forms of human diversity (e.g., diversity of ethnicity, gender, or culture). These dynamics include the dynamics of social power inequalities, and also the dynamics by which diversity, when embraced, acts as a source of creative potential.

Providers of neurodiversity-affirming care, then, will have reflected upon whether and how their care aligns with these principles.

How can you find neurodiversity-affirming care for your child, or to recommend to your patients/clients/students?

I get into the deeper nuts and bolts of what to look for in an on-demand webinar, “Identifying Neuodiversity-Affirming Care for Autistic Individuals.”

I provide this webinar on a pay-if-you-can basis. If you can’t afford the suggested price at the moment, you can download it for free.

The webinar download includes:

  • Link to webinar (the video has subtitles for those who need this)
  • Reference list
  • Webinar transcript
  • PDF of slides
  • List of ten questions to ask providers when seeking neurodiversity-affirming care

This is important information, and I want it to be easily accessible to anyone for whom it might be useful.

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