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Neuro-affirmative Practice

What does Neuro-affirmative Practice mean?

Short for neurodiversity-affirmative, neuro-affirmative practice is an approach in clinical and therapeutic establishments that recognises and celebrates neurological differences. This term is based on the Neurodiversity movement that began in the 90s It promotes the idea that neurodivergent individuals have unique strengths and differences that shouldn’t always be seen as deficits. Every individual naturally has neurological differences in how they perceive and interact with the world around them. These differences are not always deficits and should be respected and supported rather than viewed as diseases that need to be cured. A few examples neurodivergent conditions include:

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Dyslexia
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Acquired Brain Injury
  • And other neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions

Why is Neuro-affirmative Practice important?

Neuro-affirmative practice is an approach that can provide individualised care based on a social model of disability. This ensures that clinical care is tailored to the individual’s needs and preferences. It acknowledges that there is no single one-size-fits-all approach and promotes person-centred care that is able to cater to each person’s unique needs. An example of this includes having sensory safe approaches and environments that reduce stimulation such as dimmed lights and quiet spaces.

Neuro-affirmative practices challenge stigmatising and discriminatory attitudes towards neurodivergent individuals by embracing their neurodiversity and promoting inclusivity. Traditional therapies tend to follow a medical model that proposes to “cure” or “fix” the individual’s neurodivergent condition which can make it very difficult for neurodivergent individuals to obtain the right support.

Neuro-affirmative practices empower neurodivergent individuals by encouraging them to embrace their uniqueness which can greatly increase self-esteem and sense of self, and reduce the need to mask. This type of practice also understands that there is more than one way to communicate and ensures individuals who struggle to communicate verbally can also communicate via other means creating a more inclusive environment.

In general, neuro-affirmative practices place importance in creating inclusive environments, accommodating diverse learning styles and providing appropriate support that enables neurodivergent individuals to thrive in various settings like education, employment and
clinical environments.

How does NeuroDirect commit to Neuro-affirmative Practice?

All of our clinicians agree to comply and commit to our neuro-affirming standards policy which includes the below statements:

  • To refrain from using ABA practice and other behavioural approaches that teach compliance
  • To respect that there is more than one way to communicate and offer alternative methods of communication
  • Advocate for acceptance and inclusion
  • To encourage and facilitate self-advocacy skills
  • Respect every client’s preferences and needs
  • Refrain from teaching clients to perform neurotypical social rules or skills that could lead to masking or camouflaging
  • Use a strengths-based approach
  • To be LGBTQIA+ affirmative
  • To conduct neuro-affirmative assessments and identify strengths in any reports
  • To refrain from using ableist practices that intend to “cure” or “fix” but instead identify the multiple neurodivergent traits that can be helpful or harmful to the client and work with the client to find suitable solutions to their goals. 
  • To actively evaluate your practice and understandings, and seek Continual Professional Development