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What a Neurodiversity Affirming approach looks like, and how this fits with the Secret Agent Society program.

by Adina Levy

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

Neurodiversity

Neurodiverse

Neurodiversity-affirming

Neurotypical

 

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

Autistic people, people with ADHD, and people with other neurodiverse types of brains need to be supported & encouraged to be themselves not to try to be like ‘other people’ or like ‘typical people’.

We all deserve to belong. I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s book ‘Atlas of the Heart’ (which is incredible) and this quote resonated really strongly with me:

True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.

– Brené Brown

 

What does this mean when it comes to teaching social communication & emotional regulation skills to kids?

🔴 What’s not OK: Teaching ‘social skills’ that tell kids they should be like someone else, and hide who they are

🟢 What’s OK: Teaching kids to better understand the emotions, behaviours and communication of other people around them, so they can better choose how they want to respond. And importantly, teaching other people around your child to understand and VALUE your child’s emotions, behaviours and communication style

🔴 What’s not OK: Teaching children that the strong emotions they experience are wrong, invalid or shameful

🟢 What’s OK: Validating children that their feelings are OK and understandable, helping them understand their triggers, and help them choose their individual responses and calming strategies

🔴 What’s not OK: Quashing children’s individual passions and personality features

🟢 What’s OK: Celebrating children’s interests, expertise, and joy. Share their interests and learn from them. Let them be the expert and genuinely dig into their passion topics together

 

If you’re in Australia and you have an 8-12 year old who would benefit from support to value their unique strengths, advocate for themselves, understand others’ emotions and thoughts, and if you want to support other people (including you!) to understand children better… check out the Secret Agent Society program that I run online!

I’ve run it for many years and have adapted the parts of the program that don’t quite fit with the Neurodiversity Affirming approach I’ve shared above. The program is awesome and empowering, and I love spending 18 weeks getting to know the kids in these groups and learning from them!

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