Let's Talk About Neurodiversity
Written by Katelynn Covey, MS, CCC/SLP
Neurodiversity means that everyone's brain works a bit differently. When you hear the term ‘Neurodivergent’, think ‘brain differences'. Individuals with differences such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Down Syndrome, or other specific learning disabilities are considered to be neurodivergent. Neurodivergent individuals have unique strengths and challenges that vary from ‘neuro-typical’ brain development.
What does it mean to be neurodiversity affirming?
Neurodiversity affirming means that a provider is able to acknowledge that neurodivergent conditions are part of the natural variation of human development. A neurodiversity affirming approach focuses on valuing the strengths and abilities of neurodivergent individuals while acknowledging and addressing the challenges they may face.
Our speech therapists at Jump Start Pediatric Therapy Center take a neurodiversity affirming approach when working with children with diverse ways of thinking and learning. The therapists recognize that some children present with differences such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or other specific learning disabilities that affect them in individualized ways. We believe that these differences should be celebrated and embraced. We strive to work with the family and other members of the child’s care team to identify strategies and approaches that best suit the child to learn and communicate, and interact authentically.
It's a Strength-Based approach!
Our therapists focus on identifying the unique strengths and abilities of each child and using those strengths to help the child learn and grow. By incorporating a child's interests and preferences into therapy sessions, our therapists make the experience more joy-filled and authentic. For example, if a child has a special interest in animals, the therapist might integrate preferred animals into play-based interactions during the sessions.
At Jump Start, the therapists empower children to advocate for themselves by encouraging them to communicate their needs and preferences, and to make choices about their therapy and treatment. This approach acknowledges that every child is unique and has their own set of needs and challenges. Our therapists also educate families, teachers, and other professionals about the value of neurodiversity, and advocate for inclusion and accessibility in all areas of life.
Overall, the team at Jump Start takes a neurodiversity affirming approach that celebrates the diversity of neurological differences. By focusing on a child's strengths and abilities, and promoting self-advocacy, our therapists empower neurodivergent children and their families to reach their full potential.