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Embracing Neurodiversity: A Guide to Neurodivergent-Affirming Therapy and Neurodivergent-Affirming Coaching

Updated: 7 days ago




Perhaps you are a neurodivergent individual seeking neurodivergent-affirming therapy or coaching. 


Maybe you are a therapist or mental health professional looking to create a neurodivergent-affirming practice. 


In which case, you may already know what neurodivergent means, but you are likely wondering what these actually look like in practice. 


If you are a neurodivergent person looking for neurodivergent-affirming therapy or a mental health professional looking to make your practice more neurodivergent-affirming, you’ve come to the right place. 


This blog will provide more information on what neurodivergence is, what neurodivergent-affirming therapy is, the goals of neurodivergent-affirming therapy, and how Blue Sky Learning is neurodivergent affirming. 


What Does Neurodivergent Mean?


The term neurodivergent was coined in 2000 by Kassiane Asasumasu, an autism rights activist. 


She coined this term during the autism rights movement that started around the 1990s.


People noticed that there are many non-autistic individuals whose brain functioning differs from societal norms.


Kassiane Asasumasu used the term neurodivergent as a nonmedical term to refer to individuals whose neurocognitive functioning diverges from dominant societal norms in multiple ways.


Neurodivergent is an umbrella term because new conditions can be added.


Everyone under this neurodivergent umbrella also differs in the conditions and traits they have. 


Some examples under the neurodivergent umbrella include:


  • ADHD

  • Autism

  • Tourette’s

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Learning disabilities like dyslexia

  • Medical conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS) and epilepsy

  • Other mental health conditions

  • Giftedness


Some conditions such as AuDHD also involve combined neurodivergence. In this case, it is autism and ADHD.


Kassiane Asasumasu created the term neurodivergent as a tool of inclusion to create a community of individuals whose brain functioning does not fit into typical societal norms. 


Neurodivergent individuals have different strengths and challenges compared to individuals whose brains follow societal norms (neurotypicals). 


Challenges can range from waiting mode, difficulty with focusing, an increased emotional responses to rejection, and more.


We seek to describe people who are different without using the words “normal” or “abnormal,” because there is truly no such thing as a normal human brain. 


What is Neurodivergent-Affirming Therapy and Coaching?


Neurodivergent-affirming therapy and neurodivergent-affirming coaching are based on the concept of neurodiversity, which means that we all have different brains.


Neurodivergence involves variations in human functioning. 


In neurodivergent-affirming therapy and coaching, therapists and coaches view these variations as something that makes the world a better and more diverse space.


With these variations, we have different individuals that are able to thrive in different kinds of environments, which actually helps us survive as a species. 


There are some environments in which neurodivergent individuals may thrive more, and there are also some environments in which neurotypical brains may thrive.


The neurodivergent-affirming therapy and coaching model is also based on an identity model rather than a medical model. 


In an identity model, mental health professionals recognize that everyone is unique and functions in their own way.


Neurodivergence is a part of who you are in this therapy model. Therapists don’t try to fix or cure.


This is different from the traditional medical model, which views neurodivergence as something that needs to be fixed or cured. 


In the neurodivergent-affirming therapy model, the therapist or coach crafts the therapeutic environment and your treatment plan based on neurodivergence.


This approach is a lot like the quote, “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”


Ableism and systemic issues in society that disable neurodivergent individuals are viewed as an issue here, not the person.


What Accommodations Can Support You or a client As a Neurodivergent Individual?


Accommodations or environmental changes that can help you thrive are explored in neurodivergent-affirming therapy.


Some possible accommodations for neurodivergent individuals include:


  • A quiet place to work

  • Noise-cancelling headphones

  • Extra time on assignments or tests

  • Allowing for microbreaks

  • Flexible work hours

  • Remote working

  • Written instructions

  • Minimizing long meetings

  • Stress balls and fidget spinners

  • Dimming the lights

  • Body double or work buddy

  • Regular check-ins or feedback

  • Planning software's

  • Automatic reminders

  • Visual aids or larger computer screens


Neurodivergent-affirming therapists and neurodivergent-affirming coaches support you in discovering what your strengths are, what your challenges are, and what accommodations you need to thrive. 


They also seek to recognize the barriers and hurdles that neurodivergent individuals face.


Therapy is crafted to your unique needs to discover how you can customize accommodations and address difficulties that arise from neurodivergence. 


Non-neurodivergent-affirming approaches seek to have individuals conform to societal standards.


Blue Sky Learning does the opposite.


They change the environment, not you. They embrace your unique traits and the fact that these traits make the world a better place. 


Goals of Neurodivergent-Affirming Therapy and Neurodivergent-Affirming Coaching


The goals of therapy for neurodivergent individuals have shifted over the past several decades.


Old therapeutic approaches that were non-neurodivergent-affirming used to have the goal of fixing or curing a person or having a person conform to societal standards and expectations. 


As the understanding of the concept of neurodivergent-affirming therapy increases, so does the number of mental health professionals who use this approach in their practice. 


The goals of neurodivergent-affirming therapy include, but are not limited to:


  • Empower individuals: they seek to view neurodivergence as an integral part of your identity that does not need to be fixed. They empower you to accept your differences and learn how your strengths make the world a better place.

  • Accommodation and support-oriented: they support you in finding the environment types that you thrive in. They empower you to find which accommodations can help change difficult environments so you don’t have to mask.

  • Acknowledge barriers and challenges: they acknowledge that neurodivergent individuals face additional barriers. Therapy addresses these challenges and supports a person in navigating through them with environmental changes. They do not try to change the person.

  • Add environmental changes suited to each client into practice: if a client mentions that written work is something they excel at over verbal communication, adding this to your practice may be an option to make your practice more neurodivergent-affirming.


How is Blue Sky Learning a Neurodivergent-Affirming Practice?


Blue Sky Learning is a neurodivergent coaching, counselling, and consulting business that was created by Dana Daniels. 


Dana desires to cultivate an inclusive space where equity, diversity, and well-being thrive.


Her lived experience of neurodivergence, local teaching roles, international leadership, and extensive experience supporting disabled folks were all foundational moments embedded into the development of this initiative for accessibility.


Blue Sky Learning therapists and coaches are neurodivergent-affirming because: 


  • They do not attempt to fix or cure clients.

  • They aim to support clients in discovering their strengths, and they empower their clients to be their authentic selves.

  • They offer multiple options for scheduling appointments, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

  • You can turn off your camera during appointments or opt for a phone call instead of a video.

  • They view you as an expert on your experiences and seek to understand your unique strengths and challenges.

  • They embrace neurodivergent traits and embrace your needs as a neurodivergent person.

  • The intake forms, onboarding forms, and offboarding forms were created by neurodivergent individuals for neurodivergent individuals.

  • The infinity symbol and identity-first language are used.

  • They oppose the puzzle piece, Autism Speaks, and ABA therapy.

  • They acknowledge that you can be yourself. If you want to move around, not make eye contact, etc., this is cool.

  • They will adjust the environment to fit your sensory needs. If you need them to change the lighting, to fidget in session, or to turn down the noise, they will adjust this to suit you.

  • They confront ableism and systems of oppression.

  • They accept self-diagnosis as a valid form of diagnosis, recognizing the barriers to getting officially diagnosed.

  • They acknowledge that we are a neuro-minority, and we face a world that is filled with ableism.


Book a Free Consultation With Blue Sky Learning


Are you a neurodivergent individual seeking a neurodivergent-affirming therapist or neurodivergent-affirming coach?


Book a free 20-minute consultation with one of the Blue Sky Learning team members by emailing hello@blueskylearning.ca or on the website.


Blue Sky Learning team members embody values of compassion, empathy, and person-centered approaches. 


Blue Sky Learning provides the opportunity for students, professionals, parental guardians, and educators to connect with them regarding individual concerns and areas of growth. 


Blue Sky Learning strives to provide a service where clients feel safe, supported, and intersectionality understood. 


Blue Sky Learning aims to reduce stigma and shame cycles, deepen client understanding of internalized ableism, and empower areas of avoidance to increase your personal value of motivation.








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