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Moving forward after diagnosis the neuro-affirmative way

Written by 
Nikki Read
Some stepping stones on tranquil waters.

Nikki Read, Neurodevelopment Practitioner

The path from the initial wondering, through assessment, to reaching a point of diagnosis can be a validating, and an emotional experience. Often, we work through waves of reflection, relief, doubt and sometimes frustration as the signpost to our history of differences takes shape. Whatever your journey to this point, the team here at the Harley Row Clinic believe that neurodivergence, and all of the amazing vibrancy and individual presentations it represents, is an essential aspect of our neurodiverse world to be supported and celebrated.

Diagnosis is just the beginning of this journey. As we work though reflection and acceptance, we are often left wondering ‘what next?’ Whilst we can be reminded that there is a truly incredible neurodivergent community waiting to greet us, how do we reach out and who do reach out to? How do we make the cultural shift from living in a world that has brought challenges to living your best life in a neuro-affirmative and accommodating community, whether as an individual or as a parent?

Perhaps the most valuable tool is understanding. Learning about each unique flavour of neurodivergence, whether it be as an adult, parent or child, opens up a wealth of supports and accommodations that can make everyday more comfortable and enjoyable. Through a deeper awareness of self, we can begin to powerfully advocate for the acceptance and accommodation that neurodiversity demands. When we combine this with knowing the validity of our own being, we move towards driving the development of a neuro-affirmative world.

Advocacy from a point of knowledge and strength can be transformative. As a neuro spicy family, we have lived through the consequences of immersion in an unfeeling, negative environment. We have also seen the transformative impact of simple accommodations; honest, knowledge-based acceptance leading one of our family from suicidal ideation to life as a confident and contented young man with amazing friends, encouraging others to become their best selves.

So where to begin. Psychoeducation is a powerful first step on the post diagnosis pathway. For example, building an understanding of how the different neurochemistry of the ADHD brain underpins the bubble of enthusiasm, periods of hyper-focus or fleeting moments of motivation. This leads us the validation that an ADHDer is not, and has never been, a ‘naughty child’ as so often portrayed by those that we would hope should know better. Exploring together the world of sensory differences, the wonder of monotropism and pattern seeking within an autistic world can give huge insight into the strengths that might have previously been overlooked. A strengths-based approach to psychoeducation can hold us as we reconcile our challenges with incredible skills the right environment can nurture.


'Strengths' written on a blackboard.

There are many neuro-affirmative approaches waiting for us to explore; to allow us to live the fulfilling and successful lives that we are entitled to. Mindfulness and resilience coaching undertaken through a personalised, neurodivergent lens, can bring calm and contentment as you reconcile past experiences with the understanding a diagnosis may bring. ADHD coaching, for example, can gently work to remove the frictions that have previously hindered our ability to build relationships, educational achievements and careers. Working with a therapist or coach to develop bespoke solutions or discover the wealth of tools available to scaffold organisation, interaction and personal wellbeing, for a child or an adult, can be wholly transformative.

Here at Harley Row, we offer an integrative approach through therapy, nutrition, movement and, where needed, medication. Whichever, path you choose to take, explore openly the approaches you find most comfortable with your practitioner. Be confident in asking for their experiences, how they maintain and update their understanding in the fast-changing world of neurodivergence. Explore how they can support you to enhance your environment and celebrate your differences from a point of strength and resilience. When exploring the incredible neurodivergent communities, be mindful of the voice you are seeking; are you looking for gentle nurture, powerful self-advocacy? With so many platforms available it can be helpful to find a trusted voice to ponder the many views as you begin this journey.

Lastly, and most importantly, whichever approach you choose to take to learn about your, or your families, neurodivergence be comfortable in your own skin, who you are is a wonderful thing. Whether the path to discovery is meandering and tricky or easily trod, choose wise hands to steady you and encourage you towards your celebration of self.

Have an amazing neurodiversity week from all of us at the Harley Row Clinic.

Sparkling gold confetti on a blue and purple background.

Further Reading