“Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one ‘right’ way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.” – Baumer, N. & Frueh, J, 2021
At The Hello Clinic, we continue to learn, adapt and shift our approach to best serve our clients and families. As neurodiversity-affirming clinicians, we want our community to know how we approach therapy and why. To that end, we’ve put together the following commitments to care.
As clinicians at The Hello Clinic, we . . .
- Accept and honor all modes of communication: verbal, alternative and augmentative communication (AAC), sign, and gesture use.
- Embrace neurodiversity and approach therapy with a holistic lens.
- Target strengths-based goals that focus on self-advocacy, perspective-taking, and problem-solving.
- Provide community and clinical resources to clients and families as needed.
- Respect cultural, familial, and linguistic differences in our treatment.
- Work with our occupational therapist to create a supportive sensory environment for our clients during their sessions.
- Recognize that progress can vary for each individual and celebrate and honor all moments and modes of communication.
- Embrace scripting, echolalia, and stimming as an integral part of an individual — a part we are not trying to change.
We use identity-first language
The autistic community prefers “autistic person” versus “person with autism” because autism is intrinsic to an individual’s identity and how they experience the world. With this foundational knowledge, it is best to ask each individual how they would like to be addressed. It could be different person to person.
“Autism impacts the way we see, experience and navigate this world. It cannot be separated from who we are as people. Calling ourselves autistic is a declaration of pride!” (The Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library, 2022)
We support complex communicators.
Complex communicators are individuals who use various methods of communication other than exclusively verbal speech. This can include AAC, sign language, and gestures. We presume the competence of all communicators by supporting robust communication systems. We say “complex communicators” instead of “non-verbal” because we recognize that communication is more than verbal speech.
We no longer target social skills
We do not require a client to follow through with a task if it is causing obvious emotional or physical discomfort. Working on targets such as eye contact, conversational turn-taking, or maintaining a conversation on non-preferred topics contributes to masking. Masking is “any attempt or strategy to hide your disability” (Price, 2022). Recent research suggests that masking is detrimental to one’s mental health. (Cage & Troxell-Whitman, 2019)
“Social skills interventions are based on neurotypical developmental and social norms. They discount autistic brains.” (Lees, 2021)
We commit to working with you and your family to embrace how each individual sees and exists in the world. We recognize this is a dynamic process. Please help us continue to learn and grow by sharing your knowledge and experiences with us so that we can best serve our clients and families.
Baumer, N. & Frueh, J (2021, Nov. 23). What is Neurodiversity? Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-neurodiversity202111232645
Cage, E., & Troxell-Whitman, Z. (2019). Understanding the reasons, contexts and costs of camouflaging for autistic adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(5), 1899–1911.
Lees, E. (2021). Social Skills Training: Tone policing, double standards, neurotypical bias, discounting autistic social skills. Emily Lees: Autistic Speech and Language Therapist. https://www.autisticslt.com/
Price, D (2022). Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity. Harmony/Rodale. The Hello Foundation, 2021. [Photographs]. Instagram.
Wiley, Ed (2022). Neurodivergent Narwhals. Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library. https://neurodiversitylibrary.org/neurodivergent-narwhals/