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

Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast – Episode 32

by Adina Levy

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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.

I’m going to share the following five strategies that can be very useful for conflict resolution, but also give you an example of what that might sound like, exactly what you might say, depending on the situation of course:

1. Build Empathy
2. Ask open-ended questions with curiosity
3. Take time to reflect and process in private
4. Assess possible outcomes
5. Collaborate to come to solutions together

Keep learning with me!

Register for the Communicate and Connect Webinar Series for Professionals who support Neurodivergent Children using discount code POD10 for 10% off!:Β https://playlearnchat.com/c-and-cΒ 

The 3 webinars in the series are:

  • Responsive Relationships: Communication Strategies for Professionals to Connect with Neurodivergent Children
  • Collaborative Connections: Coach and Communicate with Carers & Teams of Neurodivergent Children
  • Supportive Spaces: Creating Inclusive and Accessible Environments to Support Neurodivergent Children in their Communities



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Episode 9 of the Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast: Collaboration & Advocacy: When others aren’t aligned with your Neurodiversity Affirming approach to supporting Neurodivergent Kids: https://pod.link/1625478932/episode/248b03be6c287bbadb09dd2264a0933d


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.

Hi everyone today, 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 or a parent or a care 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.

So I’m going to share five strategies that can be very useful for conflict resolution, but also give you an example of what that might sound like. So exactly what you might say, depending on the situation of course.

And I hope that by the end of this episode, you’ve got a couple of extra tools in your tool belt and a little bit of confidence to approach challenging collaborative connections within not so solid. And if this is an area that you’d like more training and more support in, I do have a webinar coming up very soon.

Depends on when you’re listening to this. But if you listen to the podcast, when it’s coming out live. Then it’s going to be a few weeks until my next webinar, which is in the communicate and connect neurodiversity affirming practice webinar series that’s for any professional who supports Neurodivergent children. Allied health, medical education professionals. You are all welcome. Welcome. Welcome to attend.

And I know there are some parents joining in as well, which you’re very welcome to. I just speak specifically to the professionals in these webinars.

So on the 20th of May, 2024, I’ll be doing the live version of the collaborative connections webinar. Where I’ll share neuro-diversity affirming approaches to changing the world around the child.

And really honing in specifically on how we can collaborate and coach each other and support each other to navigate the holistic care for neurodivergent children, that we are all supporting.

And if you’re listening after the fact, the recording will be available for anyone for 12 months. So feel free to hop into the show notes and tap on the link. I’ll say it aloud as well in case you happened to what a type it in. So it’s play, learn chat.com/c the letter C hyphen, and see the letter C again, which stands for communicate and connect. That link will take you straight to the communicate and connect webinars series. And as a massive thank you for being here on the podcast, you can get 10% off the series or the individual webinars by using the code pod 10, all of that info is in the show notes. So feel free to hop in there and tap away.

Anyway, I don’t want to just keep all of the info that I’m thinking, preparing, planning, and sharing into my webinars. As you know, I have a podcast for a reason. I also send emails and I share a lot of information you know, in this free capacity. So you can get to know what I talk about and if that’s helpful for you and you want to go further, that there’s ways you can do that.

And really I’m just so delighted to be sharing this information, these ideas, these approaches to the broader world in whatever way you will join in. And even if that’s just in the free capacity, I want to help you at every step of the way. So here we are, key strategies that can support you in navigating conflicting perspectives. When you do collaborate with other people to support your division children.

I will say as well, this bounces off and extends on my episode nine of the exploring your diversity podcast. And that episode’s called collaboration and advocacy. When others aren’t aligned within your diversity affirming approach to supporting Neurodivergent kids. So I would encourage you also, once you finished listening to this is go and listen to that one and you’ll get a few more ideas, different kind of aspects as well. Anyway, all of that said let’s head into our five strategies.

I’m talking about building empathy. Asking open-ended questions with curiosity. Taking time to reflect and process in private. Assess possible outcomes. And collaborate to come to solutions together. Building empathy. I absolutely need to talk about first.

Empathy is all about understanding the perspectives of another person. And it does need to go both ways. Please see the double empathy problem for more information about that.

It takes a little bit of humility to accept that we each individually may not have all the answers. And that there is validity in somebody else’s perspective. It takes curiosity as well, which I’ll share more about in the next point.

Being open-minded to an empathic response. It means that you’re really curious and can appreciate, but another person has a perspective and emotions and thoughts tied to that perspective and actions tied to that perspective. You don’t necessarily need to agree with them, but at the same time, You can be open-minded to taking on some of somebody else’s perspective as well. And ideally that same thing should happen to you, that the other person can accept that you have a different perspective to them. And that comes from a valid position as well.

When you make it clear that you’re willing to understand the perspective of somebody else. It can help facilitate communication because you can reduce defensiveness. You’re letting somebody know that you’re open to hearing their perspective and understanding where they’re coming from.

And once you build that trust and cooperation, a lot of other collaboration can come from there.

So, what could it sound like? You could be saying something like, I appreciate that you’re coming from a place of wanting what’s best for the child. It’s clear that you have a lot of experience. I’d love to understand more about your perspective. They can actually be quite disarming and sometimes in a good way.

And if there’s some disagreement or you’re feeling that there is a little bit of conflict or tension between somebody, it can be a really good way of kind of having a pause, shaking things up and helping somebody recognize that. You are all humans with individual perspectives in this scenario and you are ready to be respectful and open to hearing their perspective. It’s yeah, it’s really, really powerful. You might even reflect on if that’s happened to you at some point and how that felt or how you wanted to be listened to. And you wanted somebody to listen to your perspective.

Another key strategy to navigating conflicting perspectives in these collaborative situations. Is to ask open-ended questions with curiosity. So open-ended questions is anything really that’s not just like a yes or no, or a choice question. Often they start with what, why, how those kinds of words. And keeping a curious mindset while you’re not expecting a particular answer. You’re genuinely wondering about what somebody else is thinking might happen. Where their thinking is coming from. What they’re hoping to happen for that child.

This approach can help you go deeper into that empathic understanding of somebody else’s perspective. And if you practice a curious mindset, it can really take you far rather than, jumping to conclusions and assuming where somebody is coming from or that their approach is set out to be harmful. Instead of that, you’re actually supporting an open dialogue to understand each other in more depth.

If you’re a therapist who is really far down your journey of neurodiversity affirming practice, and you’re working with a teacher of a child who is using behavioral charts in the classroom. And the child is really, really struggling and losing self confidence because of this.

You might say to the teacher, something like, I wonder what I, our main concerns with incorporating more affirming relationship-based strategies into supporting Jackson’s behavior in the classroom.

At third strategy, for navigating conflicting perspectives in collaborations for Neurodivergent kids is to take time and reflect and process in private. This is a useful strategy for anyone, especially when emotions are getting a little bit heightened.

And if you add in a layer of neurodivergence to the grownups that we’re talking about, whether that’s you as a teacher, a therapist, a parent, a carer. You may have your own situation that you’re dealing with in terms of how the child’s experience relates to your own, or even how your own brain processes, emotions and deals with the kind of communication that needs to happen in these sometimes tricky collaborative scenarios.

When you build in time and explicitly share that it might be beneficial to sort of separate and process and plan and reflect in private this can lead to a much deeper, much more understanding, much more regulated and constructive conversation.

It’s certainly not easy to step away when you are in the middle of something, especially when you’re feeling like you’ve got a point to make, or you just want to complete that, or you don’t want to leave this hanging. I absolutely get that very, very much.

But it can be one of the strongest regulation strategies is to just step away, take time and regroup. And so what this might sound like. You could say something like. Perhaps we could pause this conversation and both spend a few days thinking and noticing the impact of our different approaches. And then we can chat again on Thursday. How does that sound?

You could also suggest a different way of keeping that conversation going depending on the communication preferences of both parties. I know that for me, I really prefer email for challenging conversations because I get to think more in depth about how I want to respond and it can lead to a much more constructive response. Rather than phone call or meeting in person, they can be incredibly intense or adversive or quite challenging and can lead to really extra layers of challenge and dysregulation for those kinds of communication.

So really the point here is to get very explicit about this potential need or request to take time out and it could benefit both people and also to really renegotiate how you may continue that conversation.

Fourth point is around assessing the possible outcomes of both approaches. So trying to weigh up and balance the different approaches in a little bit of an objective way. I say a little bit, because it can be incredibly hard to be objective when we really disagree strongly with somebody else’s approach.

It can be a really useful tool for both participants to take each other’s perspective in more depth, and to really think about the outcomes. Positive negatives and leading towards a solution, which is our next point.

When you’re assessing the possible outcomes in each moment, try to keep that mindset of like, this is the solution we’re going with this solution. What does it look like? Really throw yourself into that belief. Try to really think about the positive strata, really think about the negatives.

And it might support you to realistically evaluate. The benefits and the consequences of each approach. This can be done in private. You may do this yourself considering both approaches, or you may also do this in conversation with the other person.

You might ask yourself or the other person, what are the risks associated with continuing a primarily punitive approach, especially when we consider the Jackson’s self-esteem and his trust in the adults around him.

My final point in ideas for navigating completing perspectives in these collaborative relationships. Is around collaboration when you come together to a solution. It’s kind of the logical endpoint when you’ve got all of that empathy, understanding background. Assessing all of that’s done. Then you have a lot more to work with, to come to a solution together.

It’s not about winning or losing. It’s all about thinking of the child that you’re there to support. You are part of the team around this child. And the best outcome for them is going to be a as harmonious as possible. As communicative as possible. Collaboration of support with all the people in Jackson’s life. Coming to a shared understanding and a shared approach.

What it doesn’t look like is any one person in the team standing over the others and saying, this is how it’s going to be done.

When the outcome and the plan ahead is a collaborative effort. Every single person involved is going to have a lot more buy-in. And feel a lot more ownership over that plan and actually live it, breathe it, continue it, trial it, whatever that agreement is.

What we don’t want is that somebody turns around and says, yes, absolutely. We’re going to stop behavior charts. And then they just don’t do that. And what you have, there is a breakdown in relationship and that team doesn’t then trust each other.

So what this might sound like is wrapping things up saying something like based on what we’ve all shared. Could we try and approach that incorporates elements of. Both of our approaches and review the outcome together. Say in one month,

Now, I’m not going to claim that I have just solved every single tension and conflict that may happen in these collaborative teams. But I do hope that you’ve got a couple of ideas about, how you can work through challenging situations that your living at the moment where you are part of a team around a child or scenarios that may come up in the future.

Please do go and listen to my episode nine as well. For some more ideas of what you can try.

And if you’re keen for more support, more guidance, more tools, more scripts, more ideas about, how you can navigate these collaborative connections. I hope you’ll join me for the collaborative connections webinar. Whether you can attend live or you get the recording after you are very welcome to join. You’ll find the link in the show notes. And I would love to see you there.

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 πŸ“ @play.Learn.chat. Have a spectacular day!


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