Red Flags that a Training May not be Neurodiversity Affirming

2023-08-29T00:42:09-04:00August 25th, 2023|neurodiversity, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

potential indicators that a training may not be Neurodiversity affirming.

It feels like everyone and their dogs are now offering neurodiversity training. However, many of these trainings endorse ableist language, such as high functioning or behavioral approaches that encourage a person to act in a manner that is more acceptable to society rather than accepting the client and supporting them living an authentic life. I have developed an infographic that reviews some red flags. However, I am sure I have missed some along the way, so feel free to comment and I can do a round two of this information.

The big things to look for

  1. Does the instructor have lived experience as a Neurodiverse (ND) person? The community has a saying “Nothing about us without us.” We must listen to people with lived experience and integrate their needs into trainings for any therapeutic topic. There are many aspects of Neurodiversity with some definitions including only ADHD and Autism, while others include a spectrum of other conditions. I identify as ND, but I do not have ADHD or Autism. I feel like it is important to be open about that. I can advocate but I will not teach an ND class because that space should could be filled by the many ND therapists out there.
  2. Does the instructor endorse Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)? If an instructor is currently advertising that they are trained in ABA then any training from them should be a hard no.
  3. Does the advertisement use ableist or otherwise unacceptable language? This includes language such as high-functioning, Aspie or Aspbergers, treatment, or special needs. This is not an inclusive list but has some common terms I see when people advertise their training. In addition, we should be using identity-first language such as Autistic person rather than person with Autism.
  4. Does the training focus on behavioral interventions? In the past Autism and ADHD have been focused on as an condition that needed to be cured. People were treated with ABA and taught to behave in a manner that was considered socially acceptable. Examples include being forced to make eye contact or to not stim. Forcing ND people to behave in a certain manner is abusive and causes them to have to mask and pretend to be someone that they are not. That is traumatic and exhausting for them. Instead of treatment, we need to look at a model of support. Living in a neuro-typical or neuro-normative world is exhausting for many ND clients. We should work with them on how they can navigate that world while also being able to be authentic to who they are. There is not a cure for Autism or ADHD nor should there be.
  5. Does the training advertise a specific protocol to follow? If you meet one Autistic person you have met one Autistic person. No protocol can allow for the complexities of the Neurodiverse community. Creativity is key. Asking clients what they need and listening to it is essential. There is no one-size-fits-all protocol for Neurodiverse people.

Here is a video of me discussing some of these issues.

Please feel free to comment and add more red flags so I can continue to grow this list.

Here is a video of me discussing some of these issues.