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On Masking & 

Finding Community –

Chat with Chelsea Luker, AuDHD Psychologist

Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast – Episode 28

by Adina Levy

Play. Learn. Chat - Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast Logo

Get in touch with Chelsea Luker:
www.connectuspsychology.com 
@Connectuspsychology (Instagram) 
Connect Us Psychology (FB) 

Grab her book Square Me Round World
https://connectuspsychology.com/product/square-me-round-world-hardcover-book/  – For the hardcover version

International should be able to find the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones etc: https://www.amazon.com.au/Square-Me-Round-World-Stories/dp/0648605515

 

Transcript:

Welcome to the Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast for adults who support Neurodivergent children. Whether you’re an allied health professional, medical professional, education professional or a parent of a Neurodivergent child, you are welcome here. 

 

This podcast is recorded on the Aboriginal lands of the Gadigal and Bidjigal people. I acknowledge the traditional owners elders past and present, and I extend my acknowledgement to any Aboriginal first nations people listening in. 

 

I’m Adina from Play. Learn. Chat. I’m an autistic ADHDer, a speech therapist, professional educator speaker, and I also support Neurodivergent Business owners in my other business, neurodivergent Business Coaching and Consulting. 

 

I’m obsessed with creating a world when Neurodivergent people are understood, embraced, supported, and celebrated. A world where we Neurodivergent people can understand ourselves and thrive in a life aligned with our individual strengths, wants and needs. 

 

On the Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast, you’ll get my perspectives and conversations with my Neurodivergent friends. All about how adults can best support Neurodivergent children in our lives. 

 

I bring a Neurodiversity Affirming approach and indeed a human affirming approach to the support that we all provide for Neurodivergent kids in our lives.

 

Let’s dive in. Welcome Chelsea. It is super, super, super, super exciting to have you here. 

 

Thank you very much for having me on my very first podcast. 

 

Well, it’s my first for a long time, so I might be rusty and we can be rusty together. That’s cool. The fabulous Chelsea Luker is an autistic ADHD and psychologist, and she’s the proud owner of Connect Us. Psychology. With a deep rooted commitment to the autistic and ADHD community, Chelsea primarily supports autistic and ADHD individuals across various life stages. This personal touch extends to Chelsea’s life as a parent, raising two fabulous young neurodivergent children, enriching the depth and authenticity of the stories told in her new book.

 

Here’s one I prepared earlier, if you happen to be watching this on YouTube.

 

Square Me, Round World, I’m going to do an image description for those who are listening The cover is stunning. It’s light blue. It’s got this bright yellow text, Square Me, Round World, and these fabulous illustrations by Eliza Fricker who is an, autistic, ADHD, yeah?

 

Autistic ADHDer. 

 

She’s one of us. Love it. And she does amazing illustrations. Really, really beautifully done. So the subheading – Stories of growing up in a world not built for you. this is an important book, Chelsea. 

 

Thank you. 

 

I love starting off with hearing about your special interests. So, how do we get to know the you est part of you?

 

What makes you passionate? Anything that you want to info dump about and share. 

 

It was actually quite funny because I have just kicked off. I’ve written a program called Building Your Neurodivergent Identity and I just kicked off my first group, a couple of weeks ago, which is an adults group. so it’s a bunch, of neuro divergent adults, you know, and we all come together in, in my therapy space and learn all about, you know, autism and ADHD and all of the intricacies. And the big part of that is they’re all sharing their spins. And they asked me, you know, what’s your spin? And I took a breath and said, well, it’s probably, you know, autism, ADHD, and people.

 

And they go, oh, you should be a psychologist that works with autistic ADHD. As I said, you know what I should be.

 

That’s hilarious. SPIN is kind of shorthand for Special Interest. So like the SP and the IN from the start of that, which is just a really fun way of talking about what some might call our 

 

obsessions. 

 

Yes, yes, yes. So yeah, I think that I’ve always been fascinated with humans and I’ve always been fascinated with learning. So, you know, as soon as I come across a new subject that interests me, it’s obviously consume all of the information that exists in the world. And I’m just extraordinarily lucky that I get to use that in my job.

 

And do, what I love every day, but I guess outside of that fear is, is the other stuff that I’m sort of learning to lean back into, and that’s, you know, reading, which is good, writing a book is good if you’ve done a lot of reading, I was the child that finished my 20 library books on the day that I went to the library and frustrated my mother to no end musicals, theatre, I love They’re big and flashing and bright and shiny, fun of musicals, with noise cancelling headphones on, of course.

 

What’s your favourite musical at the moment, if you can pick a favourite?

 

I just went to see Chicago a few weeks ago. Yeah, favourites. Often not a thing. Favourites is anxiety provoking, as I’ve come to realise, because people like asking favourites questions. 

 

Favourites are optional here. 

 

But most recently watched with Chicago.

 

Yeah, it was fantastic. They’re probably the biggest for me. I also love nature, but it’s a Find balance of sensory okayness and being in nature, doesn’t always comply with being sensory. Okay.

 

I get that. Yeah. Staring at trees can be quite nice though, I 

 

think. They’re safe, usually. 

 

That’s a lovely bunch of, aspects of you. Thank you for sharing that. And as you said, one of your special interests is, well, your work. So what a privilege. I absolutely get that. And it’s not always been the case that my work has been my passion and it’s beautiful when that matches up.

 

So thanks anyone listening letting us info dump at you in a helpful manner. 

 

Appreciate the info dump. 

 

So your book, I’m really obsessed with it.

 

Like, I don’t just blindly get excited about any book that comes my way. It is an utter delight. And as I said, like, it’s Every line in it, I just go, Oh, you’ve just pinpointed the experience. Like, even if it’s not a hundred percent mine, I go, Oh yeah, that, that’s one of my old clients or that, that’s somebody in my family but so much of it I’m in there too.

 

So I’d love to hear the story of the book. You know, how did it come to exist? How did the idea hit you? How did you make it? How did you birth this book? 

 

It’s a really beautifully Autistic ADHD neurotype story, actually. I’m quite glad that it turned out that way. Last year I travelled down to Melbourne for the Yellow Ladybugs conference, which I adore.

 

I adore Yellow Ladybugs and everything that they do and stand for. And I was lucky enough to meet up with some other or DHE psychologist who I’d been chatting to, online for a while, but hadn’t actually met them in real life like you’re supposed to do before your friends, apparently.

 

I got to go and meet them and hang out with them and, spend time in their space and. It just felt so easy. You know, everyone was just doing what they needed. We had squishmallows, we had, snacks, blankets, fidgets, all of the things and everyone was just so comfortable, despite most people not having met each other in real life before.

 

know, There were beautiful examples of support swapping. So. I come from a country area and I don’t do public transport and that’s one of my real challenges is managing public transport, and thankfully some of the group there were city folk and so they actually, you know, pretty much did a social story for me on how to catch a train and where to buy the train pass and what station to get off at and they would walk me to the platform and then someone else would collect me from the other side.

 

And it was just such a beautiful example of, of autistic friendship. And I just really started thinking there’s very little representation of autistic relationships anywhere. You know, for people to be able to see. And so, as you do when you’re asleep at midnight in my hotel room, I woke up and decided I would write a story.

 

Oh, your ADHD came alive. 

 

That’s what I do in the middle of the night. So I pulled out my phone and opened up my notes app and I wrote, chapter two, Finding Your Flock, which I’m actually wearing. I’m finding your flock t shirt. Yay. I think probably 20 minutes. That chapter was written and I had another, obviously, six similar sessions all in the middle of the night on my note stack in my phone. and I just kind of thought, oh, these are nice stories, for me to be able to tell to my kids or, to be able to share with my clients and just thought they’d just be little fun stories to share.

 

And I shared them with a few colleagues and they all said, you know, Oh, you should publish these. They’re awesome. And I kind of looked at that through the lens of people that, can say things to your face that you would like to hear that maybe aren’t necessarily authentic.

 

Like, oh yeah, yeah, yeah. And after a few people said the same thing, I was like, oh, okay, and I’m sure you would know that if we go in, we go all in. And so Very quickly snowballed into, well, if it’s going to be a book, it’s going to be a fantastic book. And to create a fantastic book, I need a fantastic team because one of my skills is outsourcing where I don’t have the skills.

 

So, anyone that’s listening at home that has seen my drawings would know that is not one of my skill areas. Of course that’s something that I outsourced, to the brilliant Eliza Fricker, and it just snowballed to life with a very rapid speed.

 

And before long, I was very deep in a very big project that I have never done before. 

 

Did it get a lot more time intensive than you’d expected? 

 

Definitely. You know, because there are many, many skills that you don’t need as a psychologist that you need to write and publish a book. And I’m sure as you know, when you decide that you’re going to learn that skill, you hyper focus until you learn that 

 

skill. At the cost of all sleep and everything else, right? 

 

Sure. But it has been such a rewarding process. There’s not been any part of the process until I’ve had to start talking about myself, that I haven’t enjoyed.

 

So it’s been a kind of hobby time. 

 

That is so exciting to hear the delight of bringing this important work to the universe. But yeah, hard work by the sound of it as well, like really challenging, but in an interesting way. Has there been a moment of relief where you’ve gone, finally something, like finally it’s at this stage?

 

I think I’m a bit too impatient. To have that yet. I’m very impatiently waiting. The release date, which is in just under three weeks. 

 

Yeah. But, and I’ll say from when this is going out to people’s ears, that is four days ago, so the 1st of March, 2024. 

 

So my excitement will just be next level right now in real life.

 

, I think that that will be a point that I’ll just be all of the emotions, but. The biggest thing that’s been sustaining me right now is hearing stories of some of the people who have my book reading it and connecting with the stories and their children connecting with the stories and people just really feeling seen, because, you know, that’s the whole reason I did it and even if one person has that, that’s what brings me this far. 

 

That’s amazing. And what you were saying earlier about finding community of other neurodivergent psychologists and, you know, colleagues at the Yellow Ladybugs Conference. This is kind of an extension of that. It’s just. So important and empowering for us to be able to go about the world and recognise that we’re not the only ones with these experiences.

 

And I saw this in my daughter the other day. So she and I share challenges with sleeping. And so you were talking about these ideas you have late at night. Snaps. and so I thought the other night in the evening, I was like, okay I’m just going to read this book. And if you want to join me, you can.

 

And she’s like, You know, curious. She didn’t think that much of the non coloured images till she said they’re actually quite interesting and funny. And we read, Hard To Say Goodnight. Just reading the title of it. So chapter seven, I went, this is for me. And there were about four points as I was reading it to her.

 

She literally said, that’s just like me. It’s so affirming. It is literally the meaning of affirming is just to be able to see that you are not alone in your own experience. And when you are not like the majority of people on earth, that can feel quite lonely. And I don’t feel that anymore because these last few years, similar to you as well, I think, but, you know, I’ve really been able to immerse myself in this community of neurokin and i Delightful. I feel like we’re the normal ones now. 

 

Yeah, I think there’s so much power in feeling connected and feeling held and in feeling that you share experiences with other people, particularly for people who have gone through, you know, however long of their lives feeling like they’re the one on the outside and they’re the one that’s not understanding or that finds it hard or that does things differently, you know, part of what adds to the challenge of that experience is that you do feel like you’re the only one and you’re on the outside looking in and you’re never going to be on the inside.

 

And when you multiply that out with all those messages of like, and the way you are is wrong, the way you’re feeling is wrong, or the way you sense things is wrong 

 

that’s 

 

double bad. Yeah. I just forgot good words. Double bad is a 

 

word. Double bad is a word. And so, I just want people to know that connection is possible and not only possible, it’s beautiful.

 

It doesn’t look the same as connection that we’re kind of shown, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome, and important. And so, I want us to be able to value the kiddos that play next to each other and, talk once a week, but, have just so enjoyed being in each other’s spaces and, the kiddo that turns up with a picture of your favourite You know, special interest because they saw it and they thought of you and just being able to recognise the, the specialness of that moment.

 

That’s beautiful. Oh, and it’s so powerful, you’re giving permission for anyone reading it to be more themself, aka mask less. You know, masking being just sort of hiding our true selves, which very much unconsciously, I certainly have done, my whole life. It’s very hard to unpick what is masking version of me, unconsciously or consciously, and then what is the truest me?

 

You talk about masking a lot in the book. Do you want to share how it’s shown up in your life and what changes you’ve seen 

 

over the years? 

 

Hmm. It is in the book particularly in chapter three, which is about the mask and how much, energy consumes to be this person.

 

It’s, version of yourself that, you decide is more palatable, you know, to the world and, it’s a version that’s there to keep you safe, so I really think it’s so important to recognise that masking serves a really important purpose. We live in this world, we live in this round world that’s not super safe, you know, for square folk a lot of the time.

 

And so, we’ve developed these mechanisms of being okay within our spaces and staying safe. But that also means that, we have this disconnect from our real self and We use so much of our energy just trying to maintain that outward, persona. And, you know, I, I’ve recognised throughout my life, looking back now, how much life was about working out what, what are the rules here?

 

What’s the expectation here? How do I know that I’m doing the right thing in this setting? And, complying with that no matter what the cost, and then, as an adult, recognising that that’s been a very big cost, you know, that it costs people physically, it costs people mentally, it costs people, their relationship with themselves, and their ability to experience joy, and, all of those things.

 

intense emotions, that come with being someone that doesn’t quite fit in so easily. And so, you know, I, I’m making a really conscious effort to lean into. Those things that I love and, and I actually got a custom made Care Bears dress last week, complete with ruffles and I’m so excited to wear it. That was a big interest of mine when I was younger. And I’m also really trying to lean into my kids. And, joking around with, my daughter that we go hard and we, you know, then swap interests and then go hard on that one and we swap interests again, we go hard on that one and that that’s, the joy of life is, is embracing these things and, really celebrating ourselves for who we are and what makes us, us, essentially.

 

I love that. And that theme is something that’s come up a few times in chats I’ve had with other people that has inspired me greatly. And I’m literally holding up a tiny little squishmallow on the screen now. I bought a few packs of these, they like come in six, pack of six, I think. As like presents for my daughter to give to kids at birthday parties if we’ve forgotten to buy a present.

 

So I had a few boxes of them in the cupboard and I was just looking at them the other day and I was like, I think I want that one. Just when I touch it, it looks fuzzy. And then I was like. Yes. And this has come up time and time again, is that theme of like coming back to your child self, when we were freer to be ourselves before the world, squashed us down and made us a little bit more round, although I’d say square.

 

That’s the square. Anyway, who’s the square anyway. Yeah, it’s, it’s a beautiful thing to be able to head in the direction of knowing yourself better. 

 

It is a journey. It is definitely a journey. It’s a kind of pass the parcel situation. It’s not just a birthday present where there’s one layer and it’s like, Oh, there I am.

 

It’s like, Oh, when’s this going to stop? How many more layers have we got now? 

 

How more me can I be? That’s really interesting. And I want to project forward and imagine what are we going to be like in 40 years or something? 

 

you know, I illustrated through the story, I think that our masks are always able to be there, you know, to keep us safe and to let us do the things that we need to do. Because sometimes we need to do things, one of my most common sayings that almost anyone has heard me say is we live in a real world, not an ideal world.

 

And so, there’s going to be times when we need to use our mask to get through, or to do the things we want to do that are hard to do otherwise. But I think it’s just remembering that it comes at a cost and we need to, as best we can, keep it separate from ourselves as individuals.

 

 

 

And there’s more and more discussion I’m seeing online, mainly on Instagram, which I think we need to call out, which is that idea that actually being able to mask Can be a privilege in and of itself.

 

100%. I suspect you and I are probably pretty great maskers by the sounds of it and not everybody has that capability and therefore that level of safety that is needed sometimes or that we feel we need to. Blend in sometimes with the rest of the world, is not available to some people. Yeah. And therefore this whole conversation doesn’t apply to some people.

 

So that is something else to really consider. 

 

Yep. Yep. So we get the choice to mask and I think that we’re also, have this massive privilege in choosing to unmask because there’s also people that don’t have that choice. Unfortunately, it shouldn’t be that way, but I think, you know, it’s also really important that we recognise, the nuance in all of these things, and, and I guess look to other people for their realities as well.

 

Yeah. Let’s call it out. We are two white professional women who’ve kind of come some way through our profession that we can kind of take some risks and share a little bit more who we are in this. So many factors that are not available to some people and that is hard. And I think it’s still worth calling out the fact that masking takes an energetic toll as well.

 

So there are many different experiences. And I continually remind people to listen to lots of neurodivergent voices. We, we are pretty wise too, Chelsea, 

 

we have our good days. It’s a good day today. 

 

I projected us forward 40 years, but what about if you went back to talk to child version of yourself, is there anything that you’d want to share with young Chelsea around masking or friendships or any of those things that would have helped you have a better childhood or better life?

 

I think I was, I was extremely fortunate in that the messaging that I received at home was very much, be you. You are the person you’re supposed to be just the way that you are. And so, I was quite lucky to go into the world, having a little bit of that already instilled in me.

 

But, you know, I know that as, as an individual at Marston, as an individual that found it, quite, challenging to work out how to play this whole human ing thing. I guess 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.

 

And, really just try and take that pressure off, feeling like you have to play this game that you were never meant to be playing. 

 

And what I can take from that is a message for parents and a message for kids. And I’m hearing the message for parents is accept your child for who they are as much as is possible.

 

And no matter who they are and what their identity or diagnosis is, they’re going to grow up feeling stronger within themselves, like more confident that they are meant to be themselves and that’s okay. And then that message for yourself is like, you don’t have to follow those rules. There are other ways things can be.

 

I love that. 

 

Yeah. And just being able to see, that real flexibility and that real, there’s a, there’s a uniqueness and an approach to life, you know, for everyone. Yeah. But particularly that uniqueness in that way of being and seeing and existing, as an autistic ADHDer and really being able to have permission to lean into that and, and understand that for what it is.

 

It sounds so, so good. And so I feel like you’ve almost maybe answered the next question, but I don’t want to jump the gun, which is really, what do you, what do you want to change in the world with your book? Now that the world will have the book in their hands, what do you want to see happen for the kids of today?

 

Today and tomorrow. 

 

Look, this could be a week long podcast. It has all the things I would like to see happen. But, if we could think small ripples, which is sometimes What we have the capacity for, you know, maybe we don’t have the capacity for tidal waves at the moment. So if we were just thinking small ripples, I, I would love for people to be able to see and understand themselves.

 

I would love for the people who aren’t autistic ADHDers or who do, generally feel like they fit in quite well to, develop a better understanding of what life might be like, for people that don’t share their experiences. You know, I’d love for teachers to be able to read this book and to be able to.

 

have this, a different perspective, potentially, on some of the kiddos that they work with. I, I am also releasing an ebook for teachers, which again, started out as about a five page document and is now 115 pages long. To, to be able to introduce the concepts of neurodiversity and of inclusion and of how You know, different needs can fit so easily together and can be so easily accommodated.

 

With just a few simple changes so I’d really just love to see some, some ripples start to happen and, and to go along with, you know, all of the amazing work that so many advocates and researchers and, individuals are doing, to try and work together for this tidal wave that we so desperately need.

 

That’s such a beautiful image of the little ripples leading to that tidal wave, the good kind of tidal wave. Yeah. And your book, ebook, you said that, uh, teachers need it. Teachers are needing some really good neurodiversity affirming support from neurodivergent community. Yes. 

 

Yes. I’m excited to be doing that.

 

So, yes, I’ve had I had a, Amazing autistic teacher and academic actually write a lot of the content for the book and I’ve had, lucky I’ve got a lot of teacher connections, so I’ve had some great, teachers be able to help really refine it, but it’s really a grab and go resource in that I want to make it just So simple for teachers to bring this stuff into their classrooms.

 

I know how much they have on their plates and, you know, I want this to be something that makes their lives easier while also, having those ripple effects for, all students in their class. 

 

Yes. Go forth and do it. I’m excited about that. That’s just expanding the ripples. Thank you for putting that in the world when it does arrive.

 

I’m thinking this, this future that you’ve painted, this better world where there’s just more understanding from the outside in to our community and more self acceptance as well, I imagine would lead to less burnout. That’s You know, something we could do 

 

less of. Yeah. Yeah. You have to expend so much energy to exist in the world, as an autistic ADHDR, you know, to be able to deal with sensory overload, executive function overload, social overload, all of the things, it, it just makes lifing so costly in terms of capacity. And so, there are all these people that are spending their capacity on just surviving. And, I sort of think, imagine what could happen if, a few, again, really simple, basic changes were made that meant these individuals had the capacity to thrive.

 

And not just survive. 

 

I, I, I want to dream it. I want it to be real. Dream it. Dream it. Do you want to give us your like, psychologist moment? What are some of those strategies that you share most often? And I know you can’t Without a person sitting in front of you, there’s probably very personalised strategies available as well.

 

But what would be some of those most common things that you s you suggest to support kids or grown ups who are experiencing autistic 

 

burnout? Lean into special interests. So, you know, that’s a really good one that you can individualise because obviously that’s different for, every individual.

 

But, give yourself permission to lean into your special interests to really, and do that in whatever way you want to do, if that means just scrolling on your phone and, and taking that in because that’s all you’ve got the capacity to do, awesome, if that means watching movies, awesome, if that means sitting down and doing crochet, awesome, you know, lean into your special interests, create connections with neurokin, and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and.

 

Autistic ADHDers do not lack social skills, and I know you say this so very eloquently in all of your beautiful work that you do. There is not a deficiency in social skills, it’s a different set of social skills. So, whatever we can do to support these connections, whether that’s, different, like, uh, music groups or, bushwalking groups or surfing groups, we don’t need to send kids to social skills groups.

 

We need to send them to places where they feel connected with the people who share their neurotype and share that communication style and that connection style. Reduce demands. So much of our life is consumed by shoulds and until we stop and reflect, we don’t identify that they’re shoulds, you should sit at the dinner table as a family.

 

If that’s a value for you, awesome. If that works for your family, awesome. It’s not a, it’s not a must, and so there are so many shoulds that we work so hard to maintain and spend so much capacity on. You know, imagine what life would look like if we dropped even half of those shoulds. You should work 

 

full time and see 30 clients a week.

 

Life is not about the hustle, life is about sustainable balance. 

 

And I just want to make it clear. I was saying that kind of ironically, I don’t think people should, should do that if it’s not right for them. It certainly was not right for me. Yeah. Wow. Those are some very, very helpful tips. And I think probably a lot of us have heard a lot of these things before and we may not necessarily take them in until we need it.

 

There might be that moment where someone hears. And go. They go, yeah, right. You know what? I’ve been ignoring my spin for a while. Let’s bring that back in. Or, uh, my demands have crept up, so how can I pair that back? That’s gonna be super helpful. 

 

And having an external person, so that doesn’t have to be a professional.

 

That can be anyone, but having an external person to be able to help give you practical solutions of what those things look like. Because when you’re in burnout, your brain is not able to access the parts that it needs to access to create those solutions. So it’s all very well and good to say reduce demands.

 

What does that look like? Whereas if you have an external person who can talk it through, maybe it’s, well, can we get takeaway tonight? Can we have toast for dinner every night this week? Can we get someone to pick up your washing and bring it back to the house all folded? Hang 

 

on a moment. That is a good one.

 

Did you hear me? 

 

Yeah. And so, you know, yes, we’re so used to pushing through, a lot of us, and so we don’t lean on their strategies until we’re past the point where we need them. And when we’re past the point, we can’t use them. 

 

I feel like the word wellbeing is popping into my brain right now, which, whether or not it’s the actual opposite of burnout, I’m not sure, but it’s, I’m seeing it as a bit of a, Opposite.

 

And I’m going to do a little visual on the screen here, but I’ll describe it. I’ve got my hand down the bottom of my screen, which is like, this is burnout. This is the pits. And then there’s like my hands in the middle and that’s like, just bumbling along life’s okay. It’s okay enough.

 

But like you were saying, why do we need to wait till we’re down in the pit of burnout before we actually put these things in place? What if life is okay? And. You access more support and you get the washing picked up and folded and brought back. Oh my gosh. And you go out for a walk and you meet that friend who fills you up with like joy and bubbles.

 

Like now my hand is at the top of my screen. That’s the wellbeing point. Can we not? I’d like hope for that. Am I being a little bit too ambitious? 

 

Look, I think there’s a difference between hoping for something and expecting something. I think, of course we can hope for that. And of course we can aim for that.

 

And, one of the big parts of my work is working on, I phrase it, energy accounting. So, you know, ideally we want to be finishing our days in surplus. So that, when we have those things that always happen, because life always happens, we’ve got reserves, we’re not, chasing our tails permanently.

 

Not literally. I don’t have a tail. And so, and so, idealistically, yes, that’s what we’re aiming for, you know, but if we aim for that and we don’t get there, maybe we just get balanced. And that’s 

 

okay too. I can see what you’re saying is like, not expecting a hundred percent life perfection, said the perfectionist.

 

And being okay with okay, but also still maybe still aiming high. And I think this is where systems like the NDIS or the education systems, I think really fall down because what they’re expecting of disabled people, neurodivergent people is just not constant meltdown. And if you’re not in constant burnout or meltdown mode, or if you’re not punching holes in the wall, ah, you’re okay enough.

 

And so you don’t need extra support. And that is not good enough. 

 

And it reinforces the message, which I think is a dominant societal message anyway, that, you should be okay to push through. And you should just always be okay to push through. And if you’re asking for help, it means that you probably should be below rock bottom.

 

And, I think that that’s really a general societal messaging that’s, really been going on for quite a long time. But I think, I definitely agree with what you’re saying and I guess where I would frame that is, you know, it’s okay to keep working past the point of okay to working towards the point of thriving and, having a life that you enjoy.

 

Oh my gosh, Shakara. And, and allowing yourself permission to do what you need to do to be aiming for that, rather than just accepting. Okay. I use a lot of metaphors when I talk, a lot of metaphors, so one way I talk about it is like, you know, We can aim for learning how to swim.

 

We can aim for learning how to swim 50 metres, 100 metres. We don’t just have to be okay with knowing how to float. I like that, or not drowning how you didn’t drown, yes, that’s great. What if you 

 

enjoy the actual swim? But 

 

what if you could swim? And, and yes, enjoyed it.

 

Now 

 

that is a great image. I’m seeing that, I love that very much. And I haven’t even told you yet that the thing I’m doing after we chat is jumping into the ocean because That’s my reset. You nailed it. It’s so funny because all this stuff we’ve just been talking about, that’s still like, that is one of my spins and it’s a sensory joy and I love it and I really value it.

 

And yet I know that while I’m doing that, I’m going to feel a bit guilty because it’s a work day. I should be working. So all of these themes are coming to a head. We live them every day. 

 

That’s why it’s pass the parcel and not to stir up their present. Yeah, the layers, the layers. 

 

What would you want to share with parents and caregivers of neurodivergent kids who are on their journey?

 

They’re just starting that journey. They’re starting to think, Oh, someone said my child might need an assessment. What does that mean? Or they’re down the pathway of assessment and they’re dealing with, trying to understand what that diagnosis and identity might be for that child.

 

That, that kind of early stage

 

please listen to Voices of lived Experience. There are so many amazing, amazing, amazing people out there to be listening to, you know, that have the benefit of having lived experience and being able to share their lived experience with the world.

 

Rather than looking from the outside in I think that that’s really the most essential place to start is just looking towards lived experience and, and really having that curious mind as to, What information might be helpful? Where can I go to get this information?

 

You know, how can I evaluate whether this is helpful, unhelpful information or safe or unsafe information? And then, the, the The kind of core phrases that I often use with parents is that, we’re never, we’re never going to know if we’re getting it right. Every parent child relationship is so uniquely different and, I don’t think that there’s a version of anything that works for everyone.

 

But I like to look at these core, principles to come back to. That’s having that relationship with your child, where the messages are, I’m here, I’m here to listen. I believe what you tell me. I believe your experiences that you’re sharing with me. And I will do whatever I can to try and make things a little bit easier.

 

I might not always be able to solve it, but I’ll do what I can. Beautiful. 

 

Those are beautiful. I think we all need to hear that. And I will reflect that back at you, Chelsea. 

 

Thank you. There’s 

 

such important messages there. That is, to me, what the core of affirming ness is. And all I do is talk about neurodiversity affirming practice, but it’s actually about, I do say this a lot, like it’s about human affirming practice.

 

It’s just affirming this human in front of you that your experience is valid and I see you and I hear you and I recognise that in you and I’m here to help. Thank you for sharing 

 

that. 

 

Chelsea, thank you so much for sharing your insights and your ideas and your creativity and your midnight writing adventures with the world. And it’s just been an absolute delight chatting with you. I hope we do this again. Can we please? 

 

Yes, I like talking. I like talking about things for ages that are fun to talk about.

 

Good plan. Yeah, thank you so very much for having me and thank you for bearing with me while I introduce myself to the world of being on a podcast. It’s a very new experience for me. You’ve done it correctly. Yes. I followed the rules, so thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it.

 

And yeah, I just really appreciate I’ve had so, so much help and, everyone’s just been so generous with their support and to me, it’s about really getting that message out there, you know, as I said, if one kiddo reads it and just thinks, you know what. Actually, I’m pretty awesome, mission achieved.

 

Yeah. And so. Yeah, I’m just so grateful. Thank you so much. 

 

It will do that. Your book will do that. more, I should say, it’s not just going to help one kid. But yeah, it’s just, nobody is supporting you because they feel an obligation to, they’re doing it because it’s a really amazing, amazing resource.

 

for the world. And I will pop all the links to go and find Chelsea and stalk her online nicely. And to find her book and go forth and bring that book to the rest of the world. Share it with a friend, buy it for your mother in law. 

 

Ask your library to order it in. 

 

Yes, that is a beautiful way without, spending billions of dollars of actually spreading the word and getting the world aware of these amazing ideas. So thank you. Thank you, Chelsea. And I can’t wait to catch up with 

 

you soon. See you. 

 

Thank you so much for sharing this space and time with me. Thank you for being open to learning and unlearning and to listening to the perspectives and experiences of Neurodivergent folks. 

 

If you found this episode helpful, please share it with a friend, share a screenshot on Instagram, pop a five star rating and a review in your favorite app. And join me on Instagram and Facebook. 

 

I’m @play.learn.chat. Have a spectacular day! 

 

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