What is a neurodiversity-affirming practice?
Neurodiversity is a term that was coined in the 1990s by Judy Singer. It is a play-off of the term biodiversity, referring to the normal variation in human brains. This concept includes people with anxiety, ADHD, autism, and many others. This concept suggests that no normal or abnormal brain exists, and we should embrace the differences.
Neurodiversity-affirming practice flips the traditional model of care. Instead, it recognizes all individuals as valuable, just the way they are. Treatment or intervention looks more like affirming who people are and increasing their quality of life rather than attempting to fit them into a standard mold. This practice is most commonly talked about and used for autistic people, which is excellent, but neurodiversity-affirming methods and approaches recognize all brains as valid. Thus, neurodiversity-affirming care is appropriate for everyone.
This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Reframing Autism From A Neurodiversity-Affirming Perspective Podcast, by Katherine McGinley, OTDS, and Dennis Cleary, MS, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA.