Therapy Tips: What it is and How to Support your Neurodivergent Child

As values surrounding diversity, equality and inclusion move to the forefront of our cultural conversations, the concept of neurodiversity has gained popularity. Treating everyone who differs from one’s self with respect to their fundamental human equality and including (not just tolerating) their differences from one’s self is something to be celebrated.

Neurodiversity is a buzzword in our society, especially in recent years. It seems everybody either identifies as, or knows somebody who identifies as neurodivergent. And if you’re reading this article, maybe you are a parent whose child has been diagnosed as neurodiverse. But what does it mean?

In an attempt to celebrate, instead of fix, neurodiversity changes the conversation of learning differences. No single mind is alike: neurodiversity is based on the idea that differences in brain function and behavior are normal and can be accepted and celebrated, rather than pathologized or stigmatized.

So what conditions fall under the umbrella of neurodiversity? Some common neurodiverse conditions include: autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and sensory processing disorders, among others. Proponents of neurodiversity argue that these conditions are simply variations in human neurology, and that they possess unique strengths and abilities. And while these diagnoses have been stigmatized in the past, the growing conversation surrounding neurodiversity begins to normalize these differences we’ve in the past considered “disorders” or “disabilities.”

As a parent, you have an opportunity to celebrate your child’s differences. Here are some tips on how to do so below:

Educate YourselfUnderstanding the way your child’s mind works is a crucial step in supporting them. If they are neurodivergent, take the time to understand the condition with which they’ve been diagnosed. This will not only show them you care but provide you with deeper insight into connecting with your child.
Positive AffirmationFor a child, the understanding of neurodiversity can be complex. It’s common for them to feel overwhelmed or resentful toward the way their mind works and it’s important your child knows their diagnosis doesn’t change who they are. Be sure to help them see and understand the strengths that they possess because of how their mind works. Remember that affirmation goes a long way and can even silence the critical voices in their mind.
Advocate for YourselfEspecially towards their education, advocating for your child is an important way to support them. Whether they need more personalized attention within the classroom setting, increased time on tests or a more hands-on approach to learning, understand how your child learns best and utilize the resources around you to help them thrive in a school setting.

The neurodiversity movement seeks to promote understanding and acceptance of people with neurological differences, and to encourage society to create environments that are more accommodating and inclusive of neurodivergent individuals. And while the introduction of this concept is opening pathways to acceptance and accommodations for all, there is still a long way to go. 

As a parent of a neurodivergent, you have the opportunity to increase awareness and support your child just as they are. Decade2Connect works with a lot of neurodiverse clients and is here to support your family in navigating through how to best support your family. For support, contact one of our therapists today!

Our Intensive Outpatient Program is in-network with United!