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Ingredients of Self-Advocacy

Ingredients of Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy is not as simple as just learning one skill or one isolated thing. In the neurodiversity affirming world and in the therapy world, we love talking about self-advocacy, but what is it and how do you get there?

I like to think of the components of self-advocacy is being broken up into four main sub parts. In this episode, I outline what each of those parts are, why they’re so important. And some ideas and examples for how this can look in practice

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Autism minus the stigma

Autism minus the stigma

Imagine a life where a core part of your identity is something most people misunderstand. Imagine a life where a core part of your identity is something that many people are afraid of, even to say the word. Imagine a life where a core part of your identity is something people try to take away from you.​ You might have guessed it – this core part of your identity I’m thinking of is being autistic. Now let’s flip it and reverse it…

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Why telling kids “Don’t make a fuss” is problematic…

Why telling kids “Don’t make a fuss” is problematic…

Here’s why telling kids “Don’t make a fuss” is problematic…

Picture this:

A neurodivergent child is trying to get dressed. Their socks feel wrong (maybe they’re wrinkly, crooked, and a bit wet… nightmare). Their parent is frustrated and wants to just get out the door.

They say “Don’t make a fuss”

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“But you seem so sociable” – Experiences of High-Masking Autistic Folks

“But you seem so sociable” – Experiences of High-Masking Autistic Folks

I explore the reasons and impacts of masking for high-masking autistic people (who are often, but not always girls, AFAB, or non-binary folks). I talk some ways that high-masking autistic people can appear in the world, and share my hope for the future of Autistic kids and people everywhere to feel freer and more comfortable to know and be themselves!

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You don’t actually have to follow these rules

You don’t actually have to follow these rules

I had the pleasure of chatting with AuDHDer, psychologist, and author Chelsea Luker (@connectuspsychology on Instagram) on my Podcast about her new book Square Me Round World, and many other things!

One of the gems that she shared was her reflections on what she wished she knew as a child:

“I would like to go back to my child self and really say, it’s okay.
You don’t actually have to follow these rules, there’s a different set of rules that might work better for you.”

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A thing can be two things

A thing can be two things

We’re complex humans. Living in a complex world with many other complex humans and countless other variables. Life simply isn’t so cut-and-dry and many of the handy, catchy single lines that many neurodiversity advocates (me included!) share can be seen as aspirational, perhaps. But not always true.

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What neurodivergent children need to hear from you (an important adult in their life)

What neurodivergent children need to hear from you (an important adult in their life)

With the start of the school year (in the Southern Hemisphere where I am) and with the changes of routine that many neurodivergent kids are experiencing, now is SUCH an important time to ensure that you’re sharing affirming messages that validate their experiences, emotions and perspectives.

Here are some ideas of what neurodivergent children need to hear from you (as an important adult in their life):

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WHY is this behaviour change needed or expected?

WHY is this behaviour change needed or expected?

Behaviour. Behaviour support. Behavioural challenges. ABA, Positive Behaviour Support… These are MORE loaded terms and concepts (following on from last week’s email where I talked about ‘social skills’).

In the quest to work out whether a behaviour change that we’re asking of Neurodivergent children is aligned with a Neurodiversity Affirming Approach or not, the biggest question you need to answer is:

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8 Questions to ask yourself for an aligned life in 2024 (especially for ND brains!)

8 Questions to ask yourself for an aligned life in 2024 (especially for ND brains!)

One of the most powerful ways to get your life aligned with your needs and wants is to get real with yourself… this means knowing yourself, and facing some big questions. And if you’re a parent or professional supporting neurodivergent children I’d encourage you to think about the questions I share below, from the child’s perspective – or even discuss them with the child if you can!

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On Friction and Flow… (sport bras and dresses)

On Friction and Flow… (sport bras and dresses)

I get very introspective at this time of year (in between frantic runs to end-of-year parties and holy-heck-have-we-got-party-snacks-to-bring????). I love the slowing pace of life, the pause, and I find that it helps me make new connections in my noggin’. My swim led me to think about friction and flow, and that’s what I’m going to share with you today!

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Why multimodal communication isn’t optional

Why multimodal communication isn’t optional

First up, let’s get clear on what multimodal communication is:

Multimodal communication is when you combine different modes of communication. That might include speech, visuals, gestures, writing, sign language, facial expressions, objects, high-tech AAC and more.

When you combine any of these forms of communication, you’re using multimodal communication, which is fabulous!

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Out with the old, in with the neurodiversity affirming!

Out with the old, in with the neurodiversity affirming!

In my podcast episode ‘Old way/New way – Upgrading to Neurodiversity Affirming Strategies for Autistic Children‘, I shared 3 of the biggest changes that I had to make, and that so many other therapists are making, to shift from behavioural, turning-autistic-kids-neurotypical approaches towards Neurodiversity Affirming approaches.⁠

We’re comparing the ‘Old Way’ which I WISH would stick in the past (though maybe I’m being too hopeful calling it that) into the ‘New Way’ – while acknowledging that these ideas aren’t necessarily all that new – maybe you’ve been using these affirming strategies for a very long time, which is just awesome!⁠

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Your assessments need to zoom out to be more neurodiversity affirming

Your assessments need to zoom out to be more neurodiversity affirming

See…. Pie? 👀 🥧 or… CPIE! ⁠Stick with me to find out what on earth I’m on about here…

‘CPIE’ is how I remember the essential ingredients that need to go into a Neurodiversity Affirming Assessment. Most therapists do NOT zoom out enough when doing assessments for Autistic children, and capture only the narrow, presenting skills and challenges that the child exhibits.

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Ingredients for a Neurodiversity Affirming Speech Therapy Assessment

Ingredients for a Neurodiversity Affirming Speech Therapy Assessment

In this episode, I’m sharing with you the ingredients that go into a Neurodiversity Affirming speech therapy assessment.

We’ll talk about my framework ‘CPIE’ — Child, Partner, Interaction, Environment — and how it frames our approach to understanding the communication skills of Autistic children within the context of their relationships & worlds.

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What ‘all communication is valid’ actually looks like – supporting AAC

What ‘all communication is valid’ actually looks like – supporting AAC

I love talking about this inclusive idea of ‘all communication is valid‘, decentring speech as the ‘ultimate’ or ‘best’ form of communication.

It’s a deeply important part of being neurodiversity affirming, because when you truly value all forms of communication, you embrace variation in communication skills and preferences of others (and yourself too!).

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More than 80 appointments later… My experiences with the health & allied health systems as a pregnant, Autistic ADHDer

More than 80 appointments later… My experiences with the health & allied health systems as a pregnant, Autistic ADHDer

I now have a healthy, happy 7 week old baby 😊, however I had a HECK of a time during the pregnancy, with over 80 medical and allied health appointments (seriosuly, I made a spreadsheet of them)… and a world of reflections about my interactions with these supports and sytems as an AuDHDer.

I’m oh so aware of the many gaps in care, and opportunities for improvement in our medical system. I’m also deeply grateful for the positive interactions and support I’ve experienced, I just wish that holistic care for neurodivergent and disabled people was more… everywhere!

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Experiencing the Health & Allied Health Systems as a Pregnant Autistic ADHDer

Experiencing the Health & Allied Health Systems as a Pregnant Autistic ADHDer

This episode is a very personal one where I’m going to share my experiences and insights as an autistic ADHDer who was pregnant at the time of recording, with a particular focus on the positives and negatives that I’ve experienced throughout the pregnancy in terms of how I’ve been supported (or not…) through the medical system.

I also share some points about where I think things need to improve in all of these different medical and allied health settings, to be more accessible and neurodivergent-friendly.

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I’m deeply auditory-sensitive – here’s why coffee-related noises are OK

I’m deeply auditory-sensitive – here’s why coffee-related noises are OK

In my ​podcast episode​ ‘How I Experience My Auditory World as an Auditory-Sensitive Autistic Person’, I delve into the world of auditory sensitivities as experienced by an Autistic person… that’s me! From the challenges of external noises like rumbling garbage trucks to my love-hate relationship with the sound of my coffee grinder, I give you a glimpse into my own personal journey with significant auditory challenges.

Whether you’re supporting an Autistic or auditory-sensitive child, or even looking for insights into your own experiences, these reflections and strategies might just be what you need!

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How I Experience My Auditory World as an Auditory-Sensitive Autistic Person

How I Experience My Auditory World as an Auditory-Sensitive Autistic Person

In this episode, I delve into the world of auditory sensitivities as experienced by an autistic person… that’s me! I give you a glimpse into my own personal journey with significant auditory challenges.

First I discuss how I navigate and process my unique auditory experiences. Then I shed light on some effective strategies that benefit me and also my daughter.

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When miscommunications are misconstrued as misbehaviour…

When miscommunications are misconstrued as misbehaviour…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about misunderstandings and perspectives. One person’s actions can be perceived so many different ways by other people. Unfortunately for autistic children, their behaviour is often often misinterpreted in a negative light, when really it stems from misunderstandings and miscommunications… and children trying to do their best with the tools and skills they have.

Here’s one example of a misunderstanding due to non-literal language (which can often be harder for autistic people to interpret):

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Here’s why neurodivergent kids aren’t lazy or naughty

Here’s why neurodivergent kids aren’t lazy or naughty

I wanted to share some thoughts and insights from my ​podcast episode ‘Why neurodivergint kids aren’t naughty or lazy‘​. This is for you if you’re a parent, therapist, teacher, or anyone who has ever wondered about the behaviour of neurodivergent kids.

I often hear the words ‘naughty’ and ‘lazy’ when adults are talking about the behaviour and actions of neurodivergent children, and I truly can’t stand these terms. I just don’t think they apply.

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Why Neurodivergent Kids aren’t ‘Lazy’ or ‘Naughty’

Why Neurodivergent Kids aren’t ‘Lazy’ or ‘Naughty’

‘Naughty’ and ‘lazy’ are two words that I can’t stand, especially when it comes to describing young kids, neurodivergent kids.

I don’t believe, in the vast majority of cases, neurodivergent kids are lazy or naughty. However, unfortunately, these are some of the labels that often get placed onto these kids by people who don’t understand them much.

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The Role of ‘Play’ in Speech Therapy

The Role of ‘Play’ in Speech Therapy

Ever wondered about the role ‘play‘ has in speech therapy, especially for our beautiful autistic children?

Well, let’s address the question: Is there a right or wrong way to play?

The simple answer? Nope… and here’s why:

Every individual, whether they’re autistic, neurodivergent, or simply unique (because we all are!), has their own beautiful way of playing, exploring, and interacting with the world.

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Being a Part-time AAC user, Internalised Ableism & Mental Health – Chat with Harriet Richardson

Being a Part-time AAC user, Internalised Ableism & Mental Health – Chat with Harriet Richardson

In this episode, I chat with the amazing Hat, also known as Harriet Richardson, a significant voice in the neurodivergent community. Hat not only is an autistic ADHDer but also shines in her roles as a speech and language therapist, blogger, and public speaker. We discuss AAC, Internalised Ableism, the joy of claiming ND identity, mental health, consent for goals, and her beautiful dog Meeno.

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Crafting a Genuinely Supportive World for Neurodivergent Children – A Remedy to the Double Empathy Problem!

Crafting a Genuinely Supportive World for Neurodivergent Children – A Remedy to the Double Empathy Problem!

In this episode I share a few practical ideas of what it actually looks like to be changing the world around a child, to be most supportive and enable positive social interactions and connections for neurodivergent children.

I talk about changes to the world around the child in 3 ways:
• changes to other people
• changes to the physical environment
• changes to schedules and expectations

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You don’t have to do it alone – on Radical Acceptance & Building Trusting Relationships with Chrissie Davies

You don’t have to do it alone – on Radical Acceptance & Building Trusting Relationships with Chrissie Davies

On the Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast ‘Radical Acceptance & Building Trusting Relationships with Kids’ I shared my chat with the dynamic and warm Chrissie Davies from Chaos to Calm Consultancy. Chrissie is an author, trauma-informed educator, speaker, all-round wonderful human who talks a lot about supporting ADHDers – grown-ups like herself, as well as kids.

We talked about advocating for kids to be OK at school, we talked about parenting neurodivergent kids, we talked about her wonderful books, and SO much more!

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Radical Acceptance & Building Trusting Relationships with Kids with Chrissie Davies

Radical Acceptance & Building Trusting Relationships with Kids with Chrissie Davies

In this episode I chat with the fabulous Chrissie Davies, from Chaos to Calm Consultancy and author of books including the wonderful ‘Love Me Love my ADHD’ and ‘Love your Brain’.

We discuss all kinds of big ideas around trauma-informed practice in schools, tips for families supporting neurodivergent children, practicing radical acceptance, and building trusting relationships with children.

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3 Ways to Teach Neurodivergent Kids Self-Advocacy

3 Ways to Teach Neurodivergent Kids Self-Advocacy

Today I’m sharing a shortie, practical episode – all about how you can teaching neurodivergent children about self-advocacy in these 3 ways:
– Explicit teaching (this doesn’t mean swear words!)
– Model when you did and didn’t self-advocate
– Incidental teaching as natural opportunities arise

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Should PLAY be a goal? Or an activity?

Should PLAY be a goal? Or an activity?

What is the role of play in therapy for autistic children?

This is a question that comes up time and time again. Many of us have done training over the years to learn about how to “teach play”.

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The Role of ‘Play’ in Speech Therapy for Autistic Children

The Role of ‘Play’ in Speech Therapy for Autistic Children

In this episode I share my perspectives about the role that ‘play’ should take in speech therapy sessions for autistic children.

I also share my ideas for how you can support learning and progression towards various goals for a child, through connecting with the way they enjoy playing!

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8 Ways to Do Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy

8 Ways to Do Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy

I’m sharing 8 key ways you can do Neurodiversity Affirming Therapy –

You can find all of the points I discuss on the free PDF download here:
Neurodiversity Affirming Speech Therapy Practices for SLPs supporting Autistic Children:

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The core of self-advocacy – your needs are VALID!

The core of self-advocacy – your needs are VALID!

This podcast episode ‘NeuroAccessibility & being a Neurodivergent Parent‘ is a wonderful, meandering chat with my friend Annie Crowe, who is a Neurodivergent Empowerment Coach, NeuroAccess Consultant, lawyer, mum, brilliant AuDHDer human.

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NeuroAccessibilty & being a Neurodivergent Parent with Annie Crowe

NeuroAccessibilty & being a Neurodivergent Parent with Annie Crowe

In this episode I chat with the wonderful Annie Crowe. Friend, Neurodivergent Empowerment Coach and NeuroAccess Consultant who brings her lived experience as a late-identified Autistic ADHDer 2e PDAer, together with her professional experience as a human rights lawyer to help neurodivergent adults gain the skills, confidence and community needed to live their best neurodivergent life!

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3 Practical Ways to Kickstart your Neurodiversity Affirming Practice Journey

3 Practical Ways to Kickstart your Neurodiversity Affirming Practice Journey

Today I’m sharing three actionable, practical changes that you can make (or start to make) today around language, relationship strategies, and a commitment to keep learning, to support you on your Neurodiversity Affirming Practice journey.

This is an abridged version of my recent webinar (Neurodiversity Affirming Practice Kickstart: 3 Actionable Tips to do Today), where I share actions you can start doing right now to help you become more confident that your approach as a professional who supports neurodivergent kids is aligned more and more with a Neurodiversity Affirming approach.

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Things not to say to kids: “Don’t be silly”

Things not to say to kids: “Don’t be silly”

Things not to say to kids, that I’ve heard (and almost said myself, recently!): “Don’t be silly”

Children (everyone) need their emotions validated to develop emotional ‘literacy’, and confidence that their own experience is valid. If a child appears to be ‘fussy’, that is never the whole story. There’s a deeper reason behind their ‘fussiness’.

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When others aren’t aligned with your Neurodiversity Affirming approach to supporting Neurodivergent Kids…

When others aren’t aligned with your Neurodiversity Affirming approach to supporting Neurodivergent Kids…

In one of my Exploring Neurodiversity podcasts, I share 7 ideas about Collaboration & Advocacy: When others aren’t aligned with your Neurodiversity Affirming approach to supporting Neurodivergent Kids. It’s just 12 mins long – head on over to listen now!

One of the key messages I share is that when you and another adult aren’t aligned in how you approach support for a child, it’s so important to pause and try to understand their barriers. Get curious, try to be open-minded, and hear them out.

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Collaboration & Advocacy: When others aren’t aligned with your Neurodiversity Affirming approach to supporting Neurodivergent Kids

Collaboration & Advocacy: When others aren’t aligned with your Neurodiversity Affirming approach to supporting Neurodivergent Kids

In this episode for parents and professionals who support autistic and neurodivergent children, I share my response to a very common question – What should I do when other people don’t agree with my neurodiversity affirming approach to supporting autistic or neurodivergent kids?

I’ve got 7 ideas to share about how to collaborate and advocate when you’re not aligned with the other person’s approach. Here’s the short list:

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My journey to identification as an Autistic ADHDer⁠

My journey to identification as an Autistic ADHDer⁠

I love sharing and reflecting on my personal experiences as a neurodivergent, late-identified person, and blending that in with clinical experience and training that I share with parents & professionals of autistic & neurodivergent kids! This comes from a bunch of questions I’ve had recently, where people have been wondering how I came to my autistm/ADHD identity (diagnosis).

I had a long time of questioning before I decided I wanted to seek formal identification (a.k.a. diagnosis). Here’s how my journey went…⁠

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Teaching through connection not trauma: How to set tiny goals for children’s participation in any activity

Teaching through connection not trauma: How to set tiny goals for children’s participation in any activity

In my podcast episode – Don’t Teach Kids through Trauma – Teach through Connection (13 min listen) – I share a story (a very personal one!) of a kid being very reluctant to participate in swimming lessons, and two approaches to getting them to participate.

Pathway 1: The traumatic one (don’t do this) – Disregard the child’s concerns, coerce them to join in, force them to hang out in an uncomfortable, new situation with an un-familiar teacher, shame their emotions, and potentially cause a lifetime of negative emotions and traumatic responses to similar situations.

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Don’t Teach Kids through Trauma – Teach through Connection

Don’t Teach Kids through Trauma – Teach through Connection

Picture this. You take your child to swimming class and it’s a pretty unfamiliar environment. They haven’t met the teacher before. It’s noisy. It’s all new and pretty overwhelming. It might also be quite enticing and interesting, but there’s also a huge dose of new and unknown in there.

The time comes around for your child’s lesson to start. And you take your child over to the edge of the pool. The teacher’s standing in the pool, looking up. Checking the clock and saying, “just pass it to me. She’ll be okay.”

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How to be an Excellent Ally this Autism Acceptance Month

How to be an Excellent Ally this Autism Acceptance Month

Autism Acceptance Month is here! This April, how can YOU be a fantastic, genuine and helpful ally to the autistic community?

Here’s how you can be an excellent ally this Autism Acceptance Month:⁠
1️⃣ Listen to diverse autistic people⁠
2️⃣ Share the work of autistic creators

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How you can be an excellent ally during Autism Acceptance Month

How you can be an excellent ally during Autism Acceptance Month

Here’s how you can be an excellent ally during Autism Acceptance Month:

1️⃣ Listen to diverse autistic people – start here on my Resources page

2️⃣ Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Challenge your existing beliefs & biases

3️⃣ Share the work of autistic creators

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An Alternative, Affirming Approach to Behaviour Support – Understand the Deep Why

An Alternative, Affirming Approach to Behaviour Support – Understand the Deep Why

In this episode, I discuss the issue with looking at children’s behaviour through a lens of ‘what triggered that behaviour?’. We talk about the need to understand the Deep Why behind a child’s behaviour, before you can work out how best to support them.

I share a very relatable example for any parent – a child ‘refusing’ to leave the house when you need to get out the door, and how two very different approaches to understanding WHY the behaviour is happening leads to two very different outcomes!

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What drives children’s behaviors? Exploring the ‘Deep Why’

What drives children’s behaviors? Exploring the ‘Deep Why’

Behaviour. What a loaded word. It’s so important to remember that this is just a neutral word to describe any action that someone does. But often we think about ‘negative’ ‘tricky’ or ‘challenging’ behaviours. Supporting behaviour is such a big question and when you multiply this out with the ideas of Neurodiversity Affirming support, it can get pretty confusing to know what to do! I aim to help!

Let’s start by thinking back to a recent ‘tricky’ or surprising behaviour that your child, student or client did. I wonder which of the ‘Deep Whys’ below might have contributed to it? Can you think of anything else?

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What do Neurodiversity Affirming Goals look like for Autistic children?

What do Neurodiversity Affirming Goals look like for Autistic children?

In this episode we discuss a range of key considerations to ensure that goals for autistic children’s support are Neurodiversity Affirming, useful and relevant to each child.

We’ll discuss the need for goals that support an autistic child’s regulation, connection, and overall well-being. Goals should not only seek to change the skills of a child, but we should instead have goals that aim to change the world around the child. This includes supporting other people’s knowledge, perspectives, and skills in supporting and accepting each child, as well as their physical environment.

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5 things to include in Neurodiversity Affirming Goals for neurodivergent kids

5 things to include in Neurodiversity Affirming Goals for neurodivergent kids

Like many people, I’m sure you’ve been busy learning about what kinds of goals are not Neurodiversity Affirming – that is, goals that asked children to mask, to hide who they really are, for the benefit of others around them. Goals that asked kids to shift their behaviour away from their true self. Goals that taught isolated skills that don’t make sense to a neurodivergent’s real life…

Affirming goal-setting is such a delicate area to navigate and I’ve been spending a lot of time lately supporting therapists to learn what IS ok to do. So I wanted to share these 5 ideas with you. This isn’t ALL that’s important to consider, but it’s a really great start!

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Neurodiversity Affirming ‘Social Skills’ Support for Autistic Children – Part 2: What Is and What Isn’t Affirming

Neurodiversity Affirming ‘Social Skills’ Support for Autistic Children – Part 2: What Is and What Isn’t Affirming

In this episode, we dive into the specifics of what a Neurodiversity Affirming approach looks like when supporting social interactions for autistic children. The key point is that we do not want to teach neurodivergent children that they need to act more neurotypical. This means all our goals, therapy approaches and resources need to teach that autistic children might be different, and socialise in different (but not wrong) ways to neurotypical kids. We need to stop sending the message that kids are missing social skills… because they DO have social skills, just different perhaps from neurotypical social skills.

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The problem with teaching kids to ‘fit in’

The problem with teaching kids to ‘fit in’

I’ve been thinking and talking a lot recently about how it’s possible and helpful to support autistic children’s social interactions, BUT it must be done in Neurodiversity Affirming ways.

One key issue is the messages that we adults give autistic children about fitting in versus belonging.

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Neurodiversity Affirming ‘Social Skills’ Support for Autistic Children – Part 1: The Big Ideas

Neurodiversity Affirming ‘Social Skills’ Support for Autistic Children – Part 1: The Big Ideas

‘Social skills’ is a massively important area of support that we all need to pause and examine what we’ve been teaching neurodivergent kids. We need to check if the programs, resources and goals we’ve worked on previously still apply under a Neurodiversity Affirming approach.

There’s a lot that we need to change.

In short, we do not want to be teaching neurodivergent kids that they should act ‘more neurotypical’ to be accepted and socially connected.

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Words Matter: Exploring Neurodiversity Affirming Language – Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast Episode 1

Words Matter: Exploring Neurodiversity Affirming Language – Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast Episode 1

So… you’re ready to be part of the Neurodiversity Affirming movement to support an autistic and neurodivergent child in your world. Awesome, welcome in! The language you use matters. I’m kicking off this podcast series by sharing the language that you need to put in the bin, and the language to use instead.

In today’s episode, we delve into neurodiversity versus neurodivergent, why identity first language is preferred by most autistic people. We discuss getting comfortable with the term ‘autistic’ rather than ‘on the spectrum’ and why ‘high-functioning’ & ‘low-functioning’ terms should be left in the past.

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But I won’t fit in the tent

But I won’t fit in the tent

But I won’t fit in the tent.​
But I’m too tired to move off the couch.​
But I’m too distracted thinking about all the other junk on my mind.​

If I’d given in to these BUTs I would have missed out on this joyful moment of sharing a delicious (play dough) snack in the tent with Zoe.

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A story about rocks, and saying YES

A story about rocks, and saying YES

Here’s a story about rocks.

A couple of months ago we went on a van trip, driving from Perth to Adelaide over 3 weeks. Absolutely rad. One evening, night my daughter picked up some rocks on the way to the shower block.

She asked if she could bring them into the shower. I was a bit distracted thinking about where our towel was (turns out I’d forgotten it 🙃) and I automatically said ‘no’. To which she wisely asked me ‘why?’

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A time for reflecting on your practice – How Neurodiversity Affirming are YOU?

A time for reflecting on your practice – How Neurodiversity Affirming are YOU?

This is such a wonderful time of year to reflect on… well everything!

If you’ve been thinking hard this year about your clinical practice and working to be a more deeply neurodiversity affirming practitioner, then it’s ideal to pause and step back and notice how much your progressed in your listening, learning, and practice. And of course the next step is to work out your ‘where next’.

I’ve put together some reflection questions and I’d encourage you to think, write, talk through this in whatever way helps you reflect and process!

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Ideas for types of support your child needs at childcare, preschool or school

Ideas for types of support your child needs at childcare, preschool or school

For many of you, you’re supporting your neurodivergent child to transition to a new year of care – a new class, new teacher, new childcare educators, or even starting at a new school or childcare centre.

You want to help your child’s start to the year go smoothly, and this means connecting with the teacher/educators in an effective and efficient way so that they understand your child’s needs and strengths… as fast as possible!

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Why questions aren’t the way

Why questions aren’t the way

You want to help your child’s language development. I get it! You want them to learn new words and you want them to be able to express themself better. Here’s one of the absolute biggest keys to supporting your child’s language development…

🛑 Stop asking your child so many questions!
💚 Make comments. Narrate. Notice. Share your thoughts and observations

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Speech is not better

Speech is not better

All communication is OK, and valid.

Speech (a.k.a mouth words, a.k.a ‘verbal’ communication but this terminology should be phased out – see below) is not better than non-speech communication.

For some people, speech is not possible always, or sometimes. For some people speech abilities are variable, and can be hard and not their best, most reliable or preferred way of communicating.

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Sometimes…

Sometimes…

I teach a lot about the idea of SOMETIMES.

Sometimes it’s a great idea to narrate what your child is doing so they can hear interesting words and language.

Sometimes it’s appropriate to be silent and let your child have quiet space.

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There are no rules for conversations

There are no rules for conversations

Here’s my thought for today: There are no rules for conversations. No set, specific way that conversations ‘should’ or ‘must’ go. Natural conversations out in the real world don’t follow rigid patterns (yes, even Neurotypical {NT} conversations vary…)

If you’re teaching ND children to have very rigid conversations with rules, please stop!

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The Problem with Theory of Mind (ToM) as it Relates to Autistic People

The Problem with Theory of Mind (ToM) as it Relates to Autistic People

Theory of Mind (ToM) is a theory talking about the ability for people to understand another person’s mind, perspective, thoughts and feelings.

The main idea that is now solidly refuted and debunked was this: Autistic people lack ToM skills, have disordered or delayed abilities to understand others’ minds, perspectives, thoughts.

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Here’s what I’ve learned about travelling with a toddler

Here’s what I’ve learned about travelling with a toddler

I’ve so missed big travel and adventures! We’re a few days in to a Perth 🚐 ➡️ 🚐 Adelaide van trip (around 3,000km!) with my 3 year old, and having a great time! These tips are helping us have a lovely time so far… I’d love to hear your top kid-travel tips too!

🐢 Slow down – Do less

There is no way you can do as much as you used to before travel with kids, and trying to will likely leave everyone flustered and frustrated. When you do less, you keep things more simple and give space for your child to explore and navigate the new environment in their own time.

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Reasons why your child might not use speech (mouthwords) to communicate⁠ sometimes, or always

Reasons why your child might not use speech (mouthwords) to communicate⁠ sometimes, or always

Here are some reasons why your child might not use speech (mouthwords) to communicate⁠ ⁠sometimes, or all the time:

1️⃣ Speech skills are hard for them (motor skills or motor planning)⁠ – the physical act of producing speech is incredibly complicated, and many people have difficulty with all different aspects of it

2️⃣ Language skills are hard for them⁠ – Understanding concepts, learning vocabulary, putting phrases together, telling stories – Language is HARD and huge! It takes time to build language skills and everyone learns at a different pace

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3 key ideas to help your autistic child if they’re a ‘fussy eater’

3 key ideas to help your autistic child if they’re a ‘fussy eater’

As a neurodivergent person with a lifetime of sensory challenges, I know deeply how hard eating a range of foods can be sometimes. I also come to you as a speech therapist with professional training and experience in supporting eating challenges.

The ideas I share below might get you started, however I strongly recommend that you seek individual assessment and support from a feeding therapist (speech therapist, occupational therapist, nutritionist or dietitian) if your child and family are experiencing significant challenges with eating, food range, or mealtimes.

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Coping With Uncertainty And Change

Coping With Uncertainty And Change

Here’s a question I get asked a lot: How can I help my child deal with uncertainty and changes to plans?

Even for a lot of grown-ups, coping with uncertainty and change can be really tricky.

It’s very common for autistic and neurodivergent people to experience anxiety and anxious feelings. Change and uncertainty can bring these emotions up in a big way.

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Connection not compliance

Connection not compliance

Connection with your child starts with a respect for their perspective.

Compliance is about power. If you frequently require that your child does what you say, choose, demand, you’re asking them to comply with your choices.

Parenting is always about finding a balance between letting your child do things their way, and setting boundaries and rules for your child to follow.

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How 1 simple activity can build so many communication skills

How 1 simple activity can build so many communication skills

Every single moment with your child is a chance to help them build communication skills.

Once you have a few ideas of skills you want your child to be working on, you’ll see these opportunities to embed ‘real life practice’ into real life activities and every day play moments.

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The deep WHY behind your child’s behaviour

The deep WHY behind your child’s behaviour

There is a reason behind any behaviour, any action, that someone does. I call this the ‘deep why’. People also talk about the reason being an ‘unmet need’.

This can be different from the immediate trigger or the obvious cause.

We may not always know the ‘deep why’ but as your child’s parent, you have an excellent advantage – you know your child best, and you can have a very good guess about the deep why behind your child’s behaviour.

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PLAY is the absolute best way to help your autistic child learn & connect

PLAY is the absolute best way to help your autistic child learn & connect

I love play. Play is the best. All learning for kids really happens through play the best learning for everyone happens in play and playful moments.

When your child is playing with things that are within their interests, you’re going to notice that their attention is longer than if you introduce something for them to do. So it does help build their attention.

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3 Key Ideas to Help you and Your Autistic Child Communicate and Connect

3 Key Ideas to Help you and Your Autistic Child Communicate and Connect

I had a wonderful chat with Jessica, (@aussieautismfamily on Instagram) about 3 key things for parents to know, if your child is early in an autism diagnosis journey, so you can support your child’s communication and build relationships!

You can catch the live chat here – it’s a bit under 40 mins and you’ll hear me talk about the ideas below, and Jess shares her insights and how these strategies have applied to her son and their family.

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BOOKS! What should I do when I read to my toddler?

BOOKS! What should I do when I read to my toddler?

3 things to keep in mind when you share books with your young child

1️⃣ Let your child explore books in the way that suits their sensory preferences and interests. It’s OK to flick pages, tap on pages, wear a book as a hat, stare at the pictures on 1 page for a long time, and skip pages

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Using books and TV to help your child understand social dynamics

Using books and TV to help your child understand social dynamics

3 ways to use books and TV to help your child understand social dynamics

1️⃣ Discuss the clues that help you and your child work out what someone else might be thinking or feeling

2️⃣ Make predictions together about how people might act or what they might say based on the clues you noticed. Compare your prediction with what happened

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How small routines can lead to BIG communication

How small routines can lead to BIG communication

One of the strategies that I share with families often is using ‘verbal routines’ with kids – this is things like “ready, set, GO!”. My personal favourite. But another super simple verbal routine is ‘1…2………..3!’
How to use it with your child

1️⃣ Try to find a way to do the ‘1…2………3’ routine in all different activities! Find what your child loves, and start by adding ‘1, 2, 3!’ and the doing something fun on ‘3’

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Welcome to the Play. Learn. Chat – Exploring Neurodiversity podcast!

Welcome to the Play. Learn. Chat – Exploring Neurodiversity podcast!

Welcome to the Play. Learn. Chat – Exploring Neurodiversity podcast. Here, we’re going to share conversations to help you connect and grow with your autistic or neurodivergent child.

Join me, speech therapist, Adina Levy, as I share realistic ideas, practical strategies, and open conversations to help you better understand and celebrate your autistic or neurodivergent child. We’ll discuss your child’s strengths, their unique mind, preferences, their challenges, and the supports that they need to thrive.

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What is ‘Self-Advocacy’ and how do we teach this to kids?

What is ‘Self-Advocacy’ and how do we teach this to kids?

If you’ve heard the term ‘self-advocacy’ you might be wondering what exactly it means and how this relates to speech therapy.
Self-advocacy is all about speaking up or standing up for yourself. For what you want and need, and for what you don’t like or won’t accept.

It’s so important that we teach all children self-advocacy skills from a really young age, and model this for them too. This is even more important for disabled children, autistic children, neurodivergent children, or children from any marginalised group.

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“How much should I play with my kids?”

“How much should I play with my kids?”

Recently a very big Instagram account posted that parents don’t have to play with kids and it’s not your job to do so.

While I get the sentiment – she wanted to help parents feel less guilt about not playing with your kids every time they ask for you to join them…. I feel that the message went too far.

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4 tips to help your child understand you better

4 tips to help your child understand you better

There’s that amazing moment when you ask your child to do something… and they DO it! If this feels rare for your family, a big part of the challenge is often how well children undertand what you’ve said to them. Other factors that can affect whether your child does what you’re asking or understands you can be: attention, processing, motivation, skill level, and more!

Challenges with understanding spoken language can be ‘hidden’ and it can lead to parents and kids feeling frustrated and confused. Let’s talk about how you can maximise what your child understands, when you communicate with them. Let’s aim for lots of understanding and connection, and a bit more calm!

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The power of WAITING… for your child (or partner, parent, friend…) to talk

The power of WAITING… for your child (or partner, parent, friend…) to talk

Here’s a tip that seems so simple. It’s powerful. It’s also really hard to put into practice! It’s WAITING!

🌟 When you WAIT for your child to respond or take a turn, you give them space to join in and speak their mind.

👍When you WAIT, you give your child space to show you what they can do.

🙌 When you WAIT, you let your child have a say in their world.

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Why your child might need to use non-verbal ways of communicating

Why your child might need to use non-verbal ways of communicating

This week I filmed a 30 min video for my Connect & Grow community called ‘All Communication is Valid! Finding a Place for Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication’. Today I wanted to share some of the key ideas with you, because they apply to all kids and adults, of all ages!

When we support people to communicate in ANY way, and respond to their communication, we open up so many more opportunities to connect and understand each other.

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What a Neurodiversity Affirming approach looks like

What a Neurodiversity Affirming approach looks like

You may have heard of one or some of these terms:
Neurodiversity

Neurodiverse

Neurodiversity-affirming

Neurotypical

What does it all mean? Neurodiversity is all about understanding that different people have different types of brains. Brains that work, think and process the world in different ways. All brains are unique, beautiful, and wonderful. We don’t need or want to make people have a different type of brain, because we ALL benefit from sharing the world with a diverse range of neurotypes.

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3 ideas to help your fussy eater

3 ideas to help your fussy eater

A family I’m working with shared this with me today:

“My son doesn’t try new foods and I have to cook 2 meals for the whole family”

Sound familiar?

Here are 3 ways you can support your child if they have limited food range, understand their challenges better, and aim for a more calm and connected mealtime for the whole family.

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Add PLAYFULNESS to the every-day. Add joy, connection and ease.

Add PLAYFULNESS to the every-day. Add joy, connection and ease.

Here’s a thing I believe, live, and teach.
Play doesn’t just happen at ‘play times’. Play is about FUN. It’s a lightness. It’s playfulness. Play can and should happen anywhere, at any time, during any activity!

I’m going to give you a little challenge. This will help you and your child add a bit of 🎉fun🌟 to a mundane every-day activity. Once a day for a week, I want you to turn something that was either ‘work’ or a ‘have-to-do’ into PLAY!

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The Power of a Simple Snack to Help your Child Communicate More

The Power of a Simple Snack to Help your Child Communicate More

I wanted to share a simple idea today. Here’s how you can build in a bit of fun and give your child more opportunities to communicate with you when you’re having a snack or a meal.

Give the food or drink bit-by-bit

Give them 2 chips on their plate, then wait!

Pour just a drop of juice into their cup, then wait!

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💬 Get in touch

If you are enquiring about a workshop, webinar, training or a speaking opportunity, I will respond soon. Please note that it can take me a few days to get back to you as I juggle many roles!

If you've registered for a webinar or workshop and can't find confirmation or access information, please check your junk/spam email and add hi@playlearnchat.com to your safe senders/contacts list.

I am not able to provide personalised advice, resource or service requests/recommendations. You can view my resources & links page here, and view therapy services that I've worked with here. Please note that I no longer take on new speech therapy clients.

I am not able to reply to all feedback comments, but I do read them and appreciate you taking the time to share!

Thank you for your understanding!

 

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