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My hopes for the future for Autistic Children

My hopes for the future for Autistic Children

In today’s episode, I’m keeping it short and sweet. I’m going to share eight of my biggest hopes for the kids, today and tomorrow. I’ll also share a few wonderful hopes that some beautiful folks shared on Instagram. I have such desire to go deep into commenting further on each one of these hopes. Into the practical, how we get there, but I’m going to leave that for myself in future episodes. I think it’s really important sometimes to pull it back and remember why we’re here. What is the big dream? The big vision, the big hope.

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What I hope for the future for Autistic Children

What I hope for the future for Autistic Children

Here’s what I hope for the Autistic children growing up today and in the future.

I hope that these kids will know who they are and how their brain works

I hope that these kids will have pride in their strengths

I hope that these kids will find ‘their people’ – friends who respect, understand and deeply connect with them

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5 simple shifts that you can make to take your practices from ‘old ways’ towards a truly Neurodiversity Affirming approach

5 simple shifts that you can make to take your practices from ‘old ways’ towards a truly Neurodiversity Affirming approach

On the journey towards becoming a more Neurodiversity Affirming professional, there are some changes that are hard to make, and there are some that are simpler shifts (in mindset or in practice).

Here are 5 simple shifts that you can make to take your practices from ‘old ways’ – more compliance-based approaches to supporting neurodivergent children – towards a truly Neurodiversity Affirming approach.

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5 Simple Shifts to be more Truly Neurodiversity Affirming

5 Simple Shifts to be more Truly Neurodiversity Affirming

In today’s episode, I’m going to run you through five simple shifts that you can make to take your practices from what we might call old ways towards a truly neurodiversity affirming approach. We’re going to cover interest based learning, accepting old play as valid, understanding and honoring sensory challenges or differences, whether we should be teaching children to learn flexibility or not, and what we should do instead of saying “use your words” to children, which is probably one of my most hated phrases.

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Magical neuro-inclusive spaces exist – here’s how.

Magical neuro-inclusive spaces exist – here’s how.

I had the utter pleasure of being at the Yellow Ladybugs conference in person. I’ve attended it online for 3 years and if you don’t know Yellow Ladybugs please click now to go and know them. Incredible organisation supporting Autistic and Neurodivergent girls, women, and non-binary folks. I’m a speaker at the conference (it’s a recorded panel that you can watch for the next 3 months if you register, along with SO many other incredible neurodivergent speakers).

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3 ways to co-create supportive spaces with neurodivergent children

3 ways to co-create supportive spaces with neurodivergent children

I’ve been thinking a lot about SPACES lately. The environments that we exist in have such a massive impact on our state of mind and ability to think, learn and connect with others.

I wanted to share with you here, 3 ways that you can work together with neurodivergent children, to co-create supportive spaces that work for them. These strategies can work for children with a whole range of communication abilities.

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The contrasts at the intersection of being an Autistic ADHDer

The contrasts at the intersection of being an Autistic ADHDer

In this episode, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down for a wonderful chat with Stephanie Robertson, who is a great friend colleague and really wise autistic ADHD. She’s an occupational therapist and has many other identities as well. This chat that we’re going to have is about the intersection between being an autistic ADHD and how it’s sometimes work for us or works against us. 

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Put aside the pressure to feel ‘productive’ when you work with neurodivergent kids

Put aside the pressure to feel ‘productive’ when you work with neurodivergent kids

In my webinar Responsive Relationships, I emphasised the importance of prioritising relationship building with neurodivergent children, before diving in to trying to get any ‘learning’ done.

This strategy is crucial for anyone who supports neurodivergent children, from educators and therapists to medical professionals and caregivers. When you prioritise building relationships first (which can take minutes, days, weeks or even months), this sets the groundwork for deeper focus, collaboration and learning.

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How to include neurodivergent kids within their own support teams

How to include neurodivergent kids within their own support teams

Here are some questions to ask yourself, before I head into today’s email!

Do you believe that children should have a say in their own care, goals, and support?
Why or why not?
Do you think that self-advocacy and self-determination are good ideas, but hard to achieve for your neurodivergent clients, students, or children?

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Life is messy. A baseline of OK-ness = more capacity to cope with the mess.

Life is messy. A baseline of OK-ness = more capacity to cope with the mess.

Life can be full of uncomfortable things. Confusing things. Illness. Disappointment. Uncertainty. Things that smell (literally). Uncontrollable noise. Interactions that feel out of balance. Worry. Anxiety… on and on I could go.

All of this is hard for anyone to cope with, sure.

Autistic folks like me struggle on many, many more levels, in deeper more pervasive ways with some of the messes of life.

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How to include children in their own collaborative teams

How to include children in their own collaborative teams

In this episode, I wanted to share with you a brief section from my recent webinar, Collaborative Connections, where I talked all about how you can actually get children involved in their collaborative teams.

I’m going to share practical suggestions about how you can actually involve children in these situations so that they can be a core part of their own journey. Their self advocacy ability can increase when you support and guide them and you’re including them in their whole process. You’re supporting self determination, choice making, and honouring them as a whole human by showing them the value of their own perspectives.

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We shouldn’t have ‘play’ goals for Autistic kids

We shouldn’t have ‘play’ goals for Autistic kids

Here’s something to ask yourself:

How do you view ‘play’ when you’re doing therapy sessions with children, or teaching children?

When it comes to Autistic children, does your answer change at all?

If you believe, have been taught, and practice that Autistic children need to be ‘taught play skills’ I’m going to unravel this a bit for you. Stick with me!

So many of us have done training over the years to learn about how to “teach play” to Autistic kids (I sure did, years ago).

Here’s the thing. Autistic children may play in different ways than allistic (non-autistic) children. But their play is still play. And it’s fine.

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My Journey through AuDHD (Autistic + ADHD) Identification / Diagnosis

My Journey through AuDHD (Autistic + ADHD) Identification / Diagnosis

In this episode, I’ll share my journey to identification as an Autistic ADHDer. I recently got an email from another speech therapist who is in the neuro questioning phase. And she asked me this “As I understand you were late diagnosed. I wanted to ask you about your experience getting diagnosed and what you feel have been the benefits and drawbacks of it” and I really, really thank you for this email.

And interestingly, I think within a day I got a message on Instagram from somebody else with a very similar question. So I thought it is probably high time for me to share a bit more about my journey through AuDHD identification and diagnosis here on the podcast, because the bits that I do share always get interesting. 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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A formula for working through ‘tricky collaboration’ situations

A formula for working through ‘tricky collaboration’ situations

Whatever your role in a Neurodivergent child’s life, it’s inevitable that you’ll be doing some form of collaborating with other people who support the child. Families, carers, other professionals.

When everyone in the team is aligned, a child can benefit SO much from a coordinated, cohesive team. The outcomes for the child and their family and caregivers can be fabulous. With clear goals, shared plans, and excellent communication across the board.

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How to Navigate Conflicting Perspectives when you Collaborate to Support Neurodivergent  Children

How to Navigate Conflicting Perspectives when you Collaborate to Support Neurodivergent Children

In this episode, I’m going to be sharing some practical ideas about how you can tackle a challenge that a lot of us experience. Whether you’re a therapist, a teacher, a parent, or a carer of a neurodivergent child. At some point when supporting this child, you’re going to be interacting with a team around them. And at some point you’re going to be experiencing different approaches to how you will support that title, how you believe that child should be supported. It can be incredibly hard to navigate these different perspectives and to find that common ground and come to a productive point in how you work together to achieve solid support for this child.

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Responsive vs Directive communication – what’s the difference and why does it matter?

Responsive vs Directive communication – what’s the difference and why does it matter?

I’ve been busy researching, reflecting, and preparing my slides and workbook for next week’s webinar Responsive Relationships – Neurodiversity Affirming Communication Strategies for Professionals to Connect with Neurodivergent Children. And in this process I’ve been thinking a LOT about what it takes to build stronger, supportive connections with neurodivergent children.

One of the most important pieces of this is when grown ups who care for and support neurodivergent children use responsive communication strategies.

So today I’m sharing my outline of the differences between responsive and directive communication and the impact of each style.

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Responsive Relationship Strategies for Building Connection with Autistic Children

Responsive Relationship Strategies for Building Connection with Autistic Children

In this episode, I’m super excited to be talking about a topic that is just deeply embedded in my clinical practice. In my worldview and in how I support autistic children in my whole life. And that topic is Responsive relationship strategies for building connection with the autistic children in your life. We’ll be outlining some of the ideas behind what forms responsive relationships. And the opposite, what forms directive relationships and why that can be quite damaging or challenging for your relationship with the autistic kids in your world.

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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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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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