The systems fall away.
They become meaningless.
All imposed. Judgement.
Devoid of humanity.
Removed from integrity and authenticity.

Camille Long

Camile, Oralie, Lesley and I are autistic counsellors working within the neurodivergent-centred and neurodiversity affirmative framework before it was popularized.  We touched upon a particular agency that purports to be “neurodiversity-affirming” but looking closer, this wasn’t the case. This issue seems to be prevalent nowadays, as many service providers are incorrectly using the term ‘neurodiversity-affirming.’ They often equate it with having good intentions and a non-discriminatory attitude towards neurodivergent individuals, which is a misconception. Together, we talked about this sense of loss and the raw emotions we feel.

Camille:
Only based on vibes when I’ve read posts now and then. There have been times that I’ve got the neurodiversity lite vibes but I have no personal experience with them. I’ve kind of written it off with the awareness that when you have a center or an agency you will probably have practitioners at different points in their knowledge and awareness. So you can’t necessarily ensure that everyone is giving and receiving the same message. To be honest this is what has held me back from expanding. Beyond just myself into a group practice because I’m terrified that I can’t ensure that everyone else who’s hired can be as affirming as I set out to be

Christine:
It is a problem… I have been thinking about this. About how I ended up on this path. I wonder what was the point of no return for me

Camille:
In what aspect do u mean?

Christine:
Like many moms, I used to have a behaviour mindset, I consumed all the parent and professional training.  Until one point, the information was simply upgrades and add-on knowledge.  At one point, I realized just how fallible I was and how there was this completely different way of thinking that I didn’t think existed before.  Then I started wondering how in other ways I was biased and everything just clicked. I was just…no I am still horrified about how I could have thought that way and have done what I did.  Yes, my intention was good, but it was so harmful.

Lesley:
I haven’t worked with them but also got the Lite vibes – I don’t know why tho 🤷🏼‍♂️

I think I know what you mean Chris……

At some point I became 100% focused on self-compassion and awareness and accommodating oneself — the behavioural/assimilation stuff fell away. It’s so counter to the culture

If I am misinterpreting to what you said plz let me know

Christine:
I don’t know what I mean either.  I don’t like that the “neurodiversity affirmative” term is misappropriated and I am not sure how to define it in a way that is satisfying to me anymore.  I guess I need to sort out my relationship and my issues with my past behavioural self as well.

When I recruit people for my company, I have this very weird informed consent spiel about how once you know the true anti-oppression/neurodiversity-affirming way of thinking, you can’t just go back and there isn’t a way to negotiate with the behavioural approach before.  This can be detrimental and can cause the existential crisis, depression, guilt, and shame as we learn about knowledge that cannot be unlearned.

I would give them a list of links to check out and discuss them with their family and friends, and experience the beginning of a divide with ableist beliefs, but honestly, people don’t take it seriously. Now, I prefer to recruit folks who do not have the privilege to belong on the ableist side of the divide. They cannot fake it.  So there is no bargaining but rather a thirst for true belonging.

…but maybe it is not a divide.

Oralie:
I think I understand. It’s like when I realized as a teacher/school counsellor how much damage the school system is doing to ND kids. I had to leave, and also work through my own past contributions to that system that I thought were “helpful.”

I think there’s a lot of unlearning that people need to go through before they really “get” being ND-affirming, and it’s so much deeper than taking a course or using the right language.

Camille:
I agree. I didn’t know you had that experience as a school counsellor.. maybe I could pick your brain or you could share more about it. I was reached out to by one of the school districts here because they came across my work and the head counsellor for that district has been on her own for 5 years Journey of disseminating things but I struggle with the idea of going and doing a couple of workshops with school counsellors as to what it means to be nd-affirming because the reality is exactly what we’re talking about… It’s not just a set of strategies. Far from it. So much so that I don’t even want to step into the request but at the same time it’s at least something. Is it? I don’t know. Been wrestling with this for some time.

The system is so so broken. And I feel so guilty having just sent my daughter back into it for various complex reasons (of course), and she’s only going 2 hours a day but already just 3 weeks in I’m reminded of why we left and almost Frozen with grief and frustration and anger and hopelessness for it…for the system

Oralie:
I hear you. I think the hardest part is that you can’t be truly ND-affirming from within a system.

Camille:
I think that’s it

So basically I told them rather than focusing on that aspect of things I would much rather go down to an introduction to nervous system safety and how that has to underline everything a person does to be able to learn and connect and engage

Maybe that’s why I found myself in the conversation not really talking about neurodiversity or neurodiversity-affirming care at all because the reality is it’s so much deeper and bigger than that

Oralie:
That’s a good way

Camille:
Words can’t really capture it. It’s a way of being.

Such a deep sadness about that

Oralie:
I agree

Christine:
I think ND affirms this deep deep humility….. that you have after experiencing or being exposed to the arrogance and hubris of humanity… After the mirror is shattered.

Oralie:
Yes, and once that mirror has been shattered you can’t put it back together and see the world the same way.

Christine:
Yes, the great sadness.  Even when work is well done, there is this deep sadness.

Camille:
The systems fall away. They become meaningless.

All imposed. Judgement. Devoid of humanity. Removed from integrity and authenticity.

Christine:
Such beautiful and fucking mature emotion.

Oralie:
I feel like you have a poem in you to write about this Camille ❤️

Camille:
It’s inaccessible. Way too deep this pain and guilt and anger!

Christine:
We need to put what we just said into a blog

Camille:
Feel free ❤️ if I go into it, it hurts too much! For humanity. For the kids. The NDs. Even the NTs get robbed in this set up.. they don’t know what they’re missing / killing.