Therapy Advocacy Education

Established January 2018

Neurodiversity is “…the diversity of human brains and minds – the infinite variation in neurocognitive functioning within our species.”  “Neurodiversity is a biological fact. It’s not a perspective, an approach, a belief, a political position, or a paradigm.” 
Dr. Nick Walker

The Neurodiversity Movement is a Human Rights Movement. “The Neurodiversity Movement says that people with brain-based disabilities (like autism, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, or mental health disabilities) should be accepted and included in society just like neurotypical people (people without brain-based disabilities).” –  Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Therapist Neurodiversity Collective, Inc. is an international neurodiversity-affirming therapy, education, and advocacy organization.

Therapist Neurodiversity Collective was founded on January 11, 2018.

What we do:

An Autistic-led organization, the Collective’s work is focused on aligning therapy and education practices within a neurodiversity-affirming paradigm rooted in the Neurodiversity Movement’s goal to protect the rights and welfare of autistic and other neurodivergent people. We champion self-determination and promote self-esteem.  We honor personal agency, body autonomy, sensory system needs, social communication authenticity, and an autistic/neurodivergent person’s right to say “No”.

Therapist Neurodiversity Collective is unapologetically ABA-free and we don’t train social skills. Dehumanizing, compliance-based practices have been linked to poor mental health outcomes and increased suicidality in autistic adults. 

Therapists who are aligned with Therapist Neurodiversity Collective are credentialed and licensed pro-neurodiversity-focused, trauma-informed providers, wholly allied with the Neurodiversity Movement as a Human Rights Movement. We believe that therapists and educators shouldn’t try to “normalize” autistic and other-neurodivergent people at the expense of their emotional, physical, and psychological well-being. 

We are activists centered on flipping the autism narrative, impacting radical changes in therapy and education practices, and championing autistic and other neurodivergent human rights.

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Therapist Neurodiversity Collective

Therapist Neurodiversity Collective

A therapy, education, & advocacy collaborative run by an Autistic SLP.

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It’s unethical to appropriate a human rights movement, It’s repulsive to commandeer that human rights movement to hawk the very treatment the movement is trying to eradicate.

CEU event: “Expanding Perspectives: A Neurodiversity-Affirming Series - 2-Part Speaker Event: A Neurodiversity-Affirming Series PhD, BCBA-D, CPBA-AP MCD, CCC-SLP

“The first section explores the concept of joy and discusses the role of contingencies in understanding and changing behavior for the better.”

ABA: a contingency can be either a reinforcement or punishment that occurs after a behavior has been expressed by an individual or group.
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I saw a ABA clinic in Round Rock TX with a rainbow infinity on the outside of the building… I was PISSED!

You can either be neurodiversity affirming, or you can be an ABA provider. It's impossible to be both.

Contingency, a fatalistic term to pair with the differential. Pre-determined plans to modify, eventual, contingent. There isn’t a difference between punishment and reinforcer, it’s repeated force- repetitious controlling brain activity. Ending repeated forcing like ABA ideology is wholesome and joyous brain activity, I can and do testify.

By popular demand, and a lot of hard work to make it happen, Therapist Neurodiversity Collective is excited to now offer neurodiversity-affirming, high-quality, low-cost online short courses and presentations to everyone!

Image description [The 24 second video has a white background and the Therapist Neurodiversity Collective logo on the top half and a typed message at the bottom that says “By popular demand, and a lot of hard work to make it happen, Therapist Neurodiversity Collective is excited to now offer neurodiversity-affirming, high-quality, low-cost online short courses and presentations to everyone!
The logo is in the shape of a circle and has illustrations of several colorful arms and hands in shades of pink, orange, yellow, and brown raised to the sky over a blue world map with a black background. The logo’s first line reads “Therapist Neurodiversity Collective.” The second line reads “Therapy. Advocacy. Education.” These three words are separated by red, blue, yellow and green dots. Third line reads “Established January 2018.” The video starts and ends with animated smiling face emojis bursting out of the logo towards the viewer.]
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AMAZING!! 👏🏻👏🏻

Love this do they offer contact hours also?

Awesome! These seem to be about an hour. I am looking for a 20 minute introduction/overview course for a special education PD. Does that exist? Thank you!

Can we talk about how the toxic stress of incessant public school standardized testing is destroying kids’ mental health? I’m on campus supervising one of my new assistants’ therapy sessions recently. She tells me that she changed the therapy schedule the week after winter break and now is seeing XYZ in a 1:1 session because the kid is getting into fights with the rest of the group, is irritable and moody, and demands all of her attention. I’m kind of stumped. XYZ, a bright kid with a learning disability and language disorder, has been on my caseload for over three years and up until now has always had a sunny, friendly, happy-go-lucky disposition. I tell her that something has to have changed in XYZ’s life. I ask my assistant if she knows about any changes in XYZ’s school life? “No,” she says. Homelife? “Not that I know of.” I go next to the ELA teacher and ask what’s up with XYZ’s new behavior.

“XYZ’s been struggling and in a spiral since early in the school year last fall. Because XYZ’s now in ___ grade, they’ve spent literally school week after school week practicing for a district-wide or state-wide standardized test. They recently took the district test and failed it.

XYZ’s ELA teacher goes on to say that a few weeks ago, XYZ, (a student with a documented learning disability and a communication disability), was informed that they had failed the district standardized test, so they need to work harder and longer to pass it next time,. XYZ is informed that they will be starting Saturday school. The campus then writes a letter to XYZ’s parents to tell them about XYZ’s “failure” and subsequent Saturday school enrollment. They put this letter in a sealed envelope and give it to XYZ in the last class of the day.

Of course, XYZ opens and reads that letter and then bursts out crying in front of everyone in the class. Now XYZ is embarrassed and ashamed, living with the realization that not only do their parents think that XYZ’s a failure, but their classmates think it, too. Is it any wonder that XYZ is irritable, moody, picking fights with the kids in the speech group, and demanding all the attention from my assistant, a safe person who is always kind to XYZ (and everyone else)?

Now I that have my answer, with my heart breaking for this kid, I go to my favorite assistant admin on the campus, who, like me, is more concerned about the mental well-being of our students than about their “standardized performance.” Admin listens intently, with empathy as I vent.

Mind you, these are kids who already live with a lot of traumas in their lives. Teachers who don’t understand the importance of accommodations for their disabled students especially the ones who don’t necessarily “look” disabled. The inherent traumas associated with the intersectionality of disability and minority status. Poverty, sometimes abject, food, housing, and transportation insecurity. Immigration or refugee status – documented and undocumented. Limited or not-even-at-all English speakers. Some of them have incredibly difficult home lives for a multitude of reasons.

And on top of trying to deal with all of this and you’re just a kid for god’s sake, now you’re informed that your failure to pass a damn test (and make the district look good, and your school look good, and your teachers look good) means that you just didn’t work hard enough, so it’s your own fault you’re going to Saturday school. And the shame of knowing that your parents (and your classmates) also think that you are a failure is too much to bear. All of this internal anguish has to go somewhere so it manifests in “maladaptive” behavior, and now you’re in trouble for that too.

Admin sympathizes and says all of this is wrong, a big, big problem. But unfortunately, their hands are tied because standardized testing is state and district mandated and the kids who are required to take these tests have to practice for them, and they have to take them because it’s the policy. Admin says that there are a lot more stressed-out kids on this campus because of the never-ending schedule of practice test-taking and actual test-taking. Campus behavior referrals are up, nurse visits are up, and counseling requests from teachers and parents are up.

Why does our society put so much pressure on our children to perform the same as everyone else? We are literally creating unnecessary trauma and harm. Research demonstrates that toxic stress actually weakens the architecture of a child’s developing brain, leading to lifelong poor outcomes in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health. Is forcing our kids to take a never-ending cycle of standardized tests really worth sacrificing the mental and physical health of this next generation?

No. It’s not. We need to dismantle what’s not working in our public schools and start over. When I say dismantle, I am talking about abandoning draconian protocols such as PBIS, chronic standardized testing, the “normalization” (erasure) of our authentic autistic and wider-neurodivergent children through ABA/behavior modification and social skills training, and the practice of fading and removing accommodations, modifications, and supports when they are actually working just so we can document progress on an IEP. Our kids deserve change. - Julie

Franke HA. Toxic Stress: Effects, Prevention and Treatment. Children (Basel). 2014 Nov 3;1(3):390-402. doi: 10.3390/children1030390. PMID: 27417486; PMCID: PMC4928741.
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All parents should opt out of all standardized testing. Most don’t even know they have that option. Stop letting school districts teach to an arbitrary, ableist test. Also stop having disabled kids in hours of therapy every week. It’s too much stress. Develop good accommodations and a reasonable therapy schedule that serves a purpose and stop making their entire lives about therapy.

The fact that there is sooo much research stating the risks and damage of standardized testing is beyond me. Why do we persist in the face of so much research based evidence??? Who is this for and what is the value? Has the monetary gain been put at such a high as to dismiss the damage to children?

I don’t know how it works there but in Australia we can opt out of testing. Every parent should do it (ND or NT) but a lot of parents like the results as much as the school.

Same frustration, but with endless therapy assessments.

Very well said! Standardized testing is an outdated and faulty practice!!!

The people who make these decisions knows the damage this shit causes, but they know it keeps poor people poor and will, in time, help them be able to get rid of free public schools bc that's their goal. They want to keep the poor uneducated and stick in servitude to their shitty companies just to keep existing. While we fight to get things like standardized testing out, we also need to focus on the bigger issue and get rid of these awful people in charge of destroying our kids and the future.

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A Collective for Neurodiversity-Affirming Therapists

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