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TheraFriends Community Partnership commits to being a neurodiversity-affirming practice. 

Our Therapists, Staff, and Partners:

  1. Support self-advocacy and autonomy whenever possible

  2. Respect the inherent worth of each child

  3. Appreciate diversity and different ways of seeing the world, and learn about autism from autistic individuals with different perspectives

  4. Commit to continued training and education in regard to neurodiversity-affirming best practices. 


What is Neurodiversity?


The range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population.

Differences in:

  • Behavior (response to a stimulus)

  • Perception

  • Sensation

  • Emotions

  • Learning style

  • Communication

  • Play/leisure

Why Do We Use a Neurodiversity-Affirming Framework?

  • Listening to Autistic adults -  approximately 80% of Autistic adults surveyed reported that behavioral techniques have been traumatic (sometimes leading to PTSD) and not successful as individuals become prompt dependent and aren’t communicating naturally. We recognize that the majority of the Autistic adults who responded to this survey were primarily speaking adults so we continue to follow the evolving research to include non-speaking autistic adults and autistic adults with varying support needs. 

  • Compliance-based therapy dampens interoception, which is the foundation for self-regulation, and therefore teaches people to ignore what their body signals are telling them.

  • Research reflects this is best practice (contact us if you would like resources/information!)

We Recognize:

  • Neurodiversity does not need to be fixed (medical model of disability vs. social model of disability). Clinicians serve more as “support partners” to children and families.

  • Neurodiversity as differences, not abnormalities/disorders. 

  • Neurodiversity can oftentimes be viewed from the lens of an identity not necessarily a diagnosis (although diagnosis is often important and valuable). Similar to race, gender, sexual orientation, social/cultural identity, socioeconomic status, etc. ( we do recognize diagnosis is often helpful, important, and valuable). 

    • Society disables neurodivergent people by not providing accessibility in all spaces. 

  • Neurodivergent people can accomplish the same things (and oftentimes more!) as neurotypical people with accessible supports and environments available. 

  • Our role is to support that embraces and utilizes a client’s natural neurological traits and strengths

  • The value of following the lead of the client’s personal wishes, needs, and interests. 

What Clients and Families Can Expect:​

  • We do not train autistic people to perform tasks as neurotypical people (i.e. masking)

  • We presume competence, gain and maintain consent, and honor a client’s refusal (no matter how that is communicated).

  • We do not have prerequisites for AAC

  • We do not engage in any restraint, seclusion, or other harmful physical or mental practices. - this is not therapeutic.

  • We seek to understand - “do the detective work”

    • Consider unmet needs

    • Communication style

    • Sensory system/needs

    • Barriers to access


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