It has been almost three years since I started my private practice specializing in neurodiverse children and families. I have always deeply and genuinely believed that I celebrate diversity in human neurology and cherish all my clients exactly as they are. However, I definitely had a behavioural leaning in my framing and approaches two years ago and I cringe at my unchecked ableism in the past.
Neurodiversity simply means brain differences.
Autism and ADHD are NOT abnormal. They are simply variations of human neurological wiring. Neurodiversity affirmation means a commitment to be inclusive, to approach neurodivergent individuals without discriminatory thinking and attitudes, and to advocate for affirmative practices. Sounds good? Totally!
So where was the blind spot? How was I simultaneously neurodiverse affirmative and ableist?
Most people believe they are good people with good believes, but it takes vulnerability, courage, and hard work to confront our implicit biases. Therapists need to pair their neurodiversity affirmation belief with a clear neurodiversity cultural framework and proactive engagement with our own implicit ableism.
Neurodivergent affirmation is actions taken to remediate systematic and implicit ableism's disabling effect on neurodivergent people.
Neurodivergent people are perfectly competent and are disabled as described by the Social Model of Disability. Here is a super short video on the concept:
Cherishing and Respecting are not the same.
Owning up to my own ignorance and ableism is difficult, especially since it is embedded in the very name of my clinic: Cherish. At the very least, I am owning up publically and professionally. I pulled the book I published last year off the shelf and re-did my entire website. Neurodiverse affirmative practice for me now means a forever journey to increase my competence about the neurodiversity culture, shedding my implicit bias, and actively co-create a better reality with my clients.