How Neurodivergent Affirming Care Increases Outcomes for all Foundations Students

Neurodivergent affirming care is a buzzword in the treatment world these days.

But when I think about neurodivergent affirming care, I don’t see it as a treatment modality to help neurodivergent students better understand and navigate in a society tailored towards neurotypical brains. I see it as a call to change program norms to be more inclusive and adaptive to neurodivergent brains.

When adaptations are made in our microcosm of a program to include things like having enough lamps in every room to never need to turn on the “big light” or normalizing walking therapy sessions to include bilateral regulation, who loses? The answer is: No one! It takes away barriers from our neurodivergent clients to access their thoughts or conserve their energy while never being a barrier in the first place for our neurotypical students.

Foundations is based primarily on being a relational program, and the best way to build good relationships with our clients, and show them we are here to support them, is to show that we know what barriers exist out there and that while we can’t change the whole world we can change our program to create a safe space/community for everyone to come home to, unmask, and recharge. That might look like our staff being trained on when a student needs to be taught a skill versus when they need staff to body-double with them so they can access the skill themselves, it might look like normalizing talking with each student about their safe foods and making sure that all the houses have those foods stocked consistently, or it might look like clinicians educating students on skill regression when they are undergoing changes in their lives or routines in order to prevent shame and depression spirals.

Neurodiverse students have the same goals as our neurotypical students as they prepare for launching into adulthood, and I believe you only have things to gain from adapting your program to make sure that EVERYONE has what they need to achieve them.

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