Neurodiversity-Affirming Speech Therapy

This podcast episode explores the reasons why the neurodiversity movement is relevant to speech-language pathologists, and offers practical, encouraging tips for how to provide neurodiversity-affirming speech therapy.

The episode begins with a review of relevant terminology, including “neurodiversity,” “neurodiversity-affirming,” “neurodivergent,” and “neurotypical.” It also reviews the work of Dr. Christopher Constantino, who was also featured in previous episodes of this podcast.

Dr. Constantino has identified a connection between the interventions for stuttering and autism, in terms of how they might change as a result of the neurodiversity movement. His explanation of this connection inspired today’s podcast episode. It also provided a reminder that neurodiversity and neurodivergence are about more than just autism, although autism is a familiar and important diagnosis for neurodiversity-affirming SLPs to consider.

Next, the episode explores the challenges of adjusting speech-language pathology practices to become more neurodiversity-affirming. These include:

  • Acknowledging ableism
  • Navigating the difficulties of change

The episode also addresses the concerns that some SLPs have about neurodiversity-affirming speech therapy, and offers reasons why our work will be even more vital as the world becomes more neurodiversity-affirming. These include:

  • An increased need for advocacy
  • The importance of supporting neurodivergent individuals who want to understand themselves better

The remainder of the episode focuses on one simple and effective strategy that can shift our practice in a neurodiversity-affirming direction. This strategy involves focusing on the values and wellbeing of our students, instead of the perspectives and experiences of their peers, family members, and/or teachers. This shift is powerful and neurodiversity-affirming because it helps to show students and clients that they have inherent value, and that their feelings and experiences are important. Simple case study examples related to autism, stuttering, and ADHD are provided.

If you’re looking for engaging, interactive, and time-saving speech therapy materials that both students and SLPs will love, check out what the Digital SLP® membership site has to offer, or sign up for our 30-day free trial for instant access to more than 2000 engaging, high-quality resources. Our TPT store is also available!

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