Neurodiversity is the idea that people experience, interact and participate with the world in various different ways. There isn't a "right way" of thinking, and/or behaving. Being respectful of Neurodiversity means viewing these as differences instead of deficits in our speech therapy practice.
Neurodiversity refers to the variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, and attention. It is a non-pathological term used to describe the different ways people present. Autistic individuals and individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) for example are referred to as neurodivergent individuals.
The neurodiversity movement is a human-rights movement. According to Harvard Health, it aims to increase acceptance and inclusion of all people while embracing neurological differences. On top of that, it aims to achieve self-determination, antinomy, end of discrimination, and equal opportunity.
- Pronouncing words accurately. He/she may be deleting or substituting sounds (e.g. "co" instead of "coat")with other sounds (e.g. "wed" instead of "red")
- Is your child's speech as clear as his/her peers
- Demonstrating fluent, clear speech that is free from repetitions (e.g. p-p-p-pat) and/or prolongation of sounds (e.g. sssssssat) and words
- Describing possible motives that a character has for certain actions and how he/she determined these.
- Identifying expected/unexpected topics to discuss with different types of people.
- An understanding of the relationship between their verbalizations and their effect on others
Understanding of language
- Following basic instructions
- Understanding concepts such as big & small, top & under, in & out
- Understanding the meaning of words
- Understanding object functions (e.g. a pen is for writing)
Use of language
- Using words to communicate
- Joining words to make sentences
- Naming people, places & things
- Learning new words
- Using grammar (e.g. he/she)
- Phonological awareness e.g. counting syllables, rhyming, counting and changing words in sounds
- School age literacy skills e.g. sounds to letter knowledge, reading, spelling and punctuation
Neurodiversity Affirming Services
Nurture Speech Pathology aligns with the autistic community with our view around ABA - we do not endorse, encourage or use any compliance training. The team acknowledges and respects the autistic community's consensus and lived experience
that ABA training is considered abuse and is trauma- inducing.
Applied Behavioural Analysis
Applied Behaviour Analysis is a form of behaviour modification that relies heavily on external reinforcement, both positive and negative (operant conditioning). ABA is intended to modify or diminish behaviours in autistic children. ABAfollows behaviourist theories that suggest that behaviour is caused by external stimuli in the environment and therefore a reward would reinforce a behaviour, and punishment would discourage it.
ABA therapy has traditionally been regarded as the "gold standard treatment option" for autistic children because a "number of studies have found it to be effective". It is important to note however that these studies only looked those whohave a measurable IQ, usually 70 or above, which means children who are nonspeaking are always excluded from these studies. There is barely any research on the effectiveness of ABA for the nonspeaking population and yet non speaking autistics are the ones who receives long-term ABA services.
Learning from traumatised autistic ABA survivors
The principles of ABA are based on silencing the voices of autistic individuals and ignoring their inner experiences. Behaviour is communication. Instead of trying to figure out what the child is trying to communicate, ABA aims to change the behaviour. The children are being taught that their voices do not matter and that positive things or experiences must beearned.
Long term consequences of ABA includes trained compliance, and often produces prompt dependent individuals with low self-esteem, and self motivation. A lifetime of
having food, toys, and other favourite/high interest objects being withheld without an understanding as to why, creates learned helpless, anxiety, and stress.
A lifetime of prompt dependence can create adult reliant children, and robs them of
the opportunity and potential for learning and growth. Regardless of age, autistic individuals often are victims of abuse as they have been trained to be compliant and conditioned to obey others which makes them more vulnerable to manipulation and grooming. Many autistic individuals who have gone through ABA display post traumatic stress symptoms.
Some parents/therapists might rave about the positive benefits they have seen from ABA therapy. But is this simply because the child has learnt to mask their behaviours/intentions? (We will dive into autistic masking in the coming weeks). If you have power over someone in the way that behaviour therapists do, children are going to be highly motivated to please you which is often a type of trauma-response.
How about "new/modern/good" ABA?
Is compliance/changing of behaviour still what you are are after?
Does "new/modern/good" ABA still teach the child that other people's desires are more important than their desires, or even their needs? Does it teach the child that if he/she tolerates distress, the child be rewarded? Does it teach the child thatthey can't say "no" or that their "no" will not be accepted. Does it resort to emotional manipulation (e.g. If you don't do this, it will make me sad), and bribery (e.g. If you take another bite of your meal, you can have a whole box of cookies)? No one is struck, yelled or physically manipulated in these scenarios; but the child's sense of self, autonomy, trust, and emotional safety are being PURPOSEFULLY and SYSTEMATICALLY eroded.'
Knowledge and skills can be taught without ABA - in a nurturing learning environment that respects a child's inner experience. When a child cries or exhibits a fight, flight, or freeze response, we should be wondering how we may help to make things better and not to do ABA to simply stop the distress response without investigating and addressing the reasonthat caused the crying or other distress response.
Our view on ABA
Centre Based Speech Therapy
Our facilities provide a modern and professional environment in which our highly trained speech pathologists can help your child develop their skills and achieve their full potential. Centre based therapy is preferable for our clients for a number of reasons:
- All therapy resources are available at our centre whereas limited resources are brought for each home/school visit.
- Parents/carers can actively attend sessions to see what is being practiced and can bring home written program suggestions after each appointment for faster therapy progress.
These visits are an excellent opportunity to conduct effective sessions with your child. It allows us to work closely with facilitators to ensure that they understand the specific needs as part of your child's treatment plan. It also allows us to observe how your child interact with others in a "real live" scenario. In addition, these visits are a terrific way to achieve language and literacy (ability to read and write) goals within the school curriculum. We will be able to collaborate with their teachers closely and pre-teach or reinforce vocabulary, concepts or literacy areas to support them to excel in school.
If you would like to book in a speech therapy session, click on the "book now" button on the bottom right of your screen. Alternatively, call us at 0403 118 979 or email us to book your speech therapist today. If home visits are not practical for your child due to your busy schedule as a parent, then school or childcare visits are fantastic opportunities for us to reach out to your child. Feel free to reach out and discuss this option with us.
It Takes Two to Talk® — The Hanen Program® for Parents of Children with Language Delays
More Than Words® — The Hanen Program® for Parents of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder or Social Communication Difficulties
DIR FLOORTIME - The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning (ICDL)
Sounds ~ Write Literacy Program
LSVT LOUD; A speech treatment for people with Parkinson's disease (PD) and other neurological conditions. - LSVT Global