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Neurodiversity Affirming Practices

There is no ‘right’ or standard mind or brain and we can validate these differences without labelling them as deficits by recognizing the diversity in how we function from the way we feel, the way we learn, and the way we communicate.   It is important to note that validating differences does not mean denying challenges or needs, however, all practices and programs should not imply that these are failings, deficits, or problems with the individual.  

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Neurodivergent individuals are often judged and held against neuronormative standards and expectations.  These standards expose neurodivergents to a narrative that tells them they are unwell, abnormal, or broken.   It is impossible for an individual to nurture a positive self-identity when riddled with feelings of inadequacy, shame, and ostracization.   


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At Spectrum Tech Trade School, Village, and Training Center, we realize it is important to cultivate a positive self-identity for the autistics we serve for well-being, meaningful progress, confidence in abilities, and potentiation.    Which is why at Spectrum Tech Trade School, Village, and Training Center we are breaking traditional practices and are reframing our expectations in regard to how individuals should develop, communicate, learn, think, play, socialize and function.

Examples of neurodiversity-affirming techniques include:
  • Using Respectful Terminology
  • Inclusivity and Accessibility
  • Support Needs Approach vs.  Levels of Functioning Labels
  • Presuming Competence
  • Strength-based Programming
  • Self-determination and Autonomy
  • Challenging Stigmas and Stereotypes
  • Evidence Based Practice and Innovation
  • Trauma-Informed Care
  • Emphasizing Co-regulation instead of Behavioral Interventions


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We also believe in reframing neuronormative expectations around success, productivity, executive functioning, independence and even how we do therapy.  We need to reframe neuronormative expectations that disadvantages anyone who functions differently by providing a supportive community network that validates differences, and reframe both our language and expectations.


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That’s why at Spectrum Tech Trade School, Village, and Training Center, instead of looking at neurodiversity through a deficit-based lens, we choose to consider neurodiversity a competitive advantage.   When the individuals are in the right environment, making use of their strengths, instead of constantly trying to overcome challenges, they can thrive and reach their full potential.   Our approach recognizes and supports individual capabilities without trying to ‘correct' them. These practices encourage the creation of inclusive environments that value neurocognitive variations.

As a support network of practitioners, educators, family members, and advocates it is up to us to remain up to date when it comes to child development, and this includes challenging outdated narratives and beliefs about Special Education Norms.  This illustrates why our Vision at Spectrum Tech Trade School, Village, and Training Center includes engaging with research, training and support led by people who themselves are neurodivergent, and who assist us in continuing to challenge stereotypes, listen to different perspectives, and learn from those with lived experience.  By promoting collaboration between neurodivergent individuals, families, professionals, and communities we can best support and empower neurodivergent individuals. This includes valuing the insights and expertise of neurodivergent individuals as essential to developing effective supports and strategies, actively working to challenge and change societal stereotypes, stigma, and misconceptions about neurodivergence, advocating for a more accurate and respectful understanding, recognizing and respecting the diverse cultural, linguistic, and personal backgrounds of neurodivergent individuals, and adapting practices to be culturally competent and inclusive.

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