Teachers & Professionals2023-06-29T20:17:34+00:00

Teachers & Professionals

Embracing Neurodiversity: A Neurodivergent-Affirmative Approach to Understanding Autistic Individuals

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in our understanding and perception of neurodiversity. Autism has been increasingly recognized as a natural variation of human neurological functioning rather than a disorder to be fixed or normalised. This paradigm shift has paved the way for a more inclusive and empowering approach towards autistic individuals, emphasising their strengths, unique perspectives, and contributions to society.

For education, health, and social care professionals, it is crucial to develop a deep understanding of autism from a neurodivergent-affirmative standpoint. By doing so, we can create supportive environments and implement effective strategies that celebrate the strengths of autistic individuals, while addressing their specific needs and challenges.

By embracing a neurodivergent-affirmative perspective, professionals can cultivate an inclusive mindset that affirms the rights and autonomy of autistic individuals. It encourages us to move beyond tolerance and compliance, towards actively promoting meaningful participation, self-determination, and well-being for all autistic individuals.

AGN Resources

Written by
Dr Beth Sheldrake, Child and Educational Psychologist

In my role as an educational psychologist, I am all too aware of the pressure on capacity in the profession to support young female students who have reached crisis point in Secondary School, whilst also aiming to work preventatively in Primary Schools to avoid such issues.

Early intervention can lead to the prevention of mental health difficulties, isolation, trauma, and withdrawal from education for so many young people who internalise the presentation of autism.


A letter template to give to your healthcare provider.

Dear Midwife/Health Professional

I am autistic. This means I can find some situations overwhelming and may need extra support and reasonable adjustments during my pregnancy, birth and post delivery.


Too often, when people receive their diagnoses of autism or ADHD, they are told that they have been diagnosed and then are discharged from services. This is usually not the fault of the professional, but of services not being commissioned to provide follow-up care, and of waiting lists for assessments being years long.


I’ve worked in education for fifteen years now; as a class teacher, a reading recovery teacher, a SENCo and now a specialist teacher. Over the years, education and society have undergone huge changes in terms of their understanding around neurodivergence. It’s not always easy to keep up and as a parent of two neurodivergent children, and as an educational professional, I still feel I’m learning more every day and I’m sure I will continue to do so.


Recommended books

Nurturing Your Autistic Young Person
learning from autistic teachers
A Therapist’s Guide to Neurodiversity Affirming Practice with Children and Young People
What works for Autistic Children - Dr. Luke Beardon
Taking off the mask

Additional resources and information

Recommended Video

Autism and Anxiety

Related podcast 

From our blog

Useful links

7 minute SENCO Autism

YouTube series for professionals on sensory differences by Joanna Grace

Presentation by a Neurodivergent Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist on prescribing for autistic people.

Group for Research in Relationships and NeuroDiversity (GRRAND)’s work for Tier 4 CAMHS units

Double Empathy


Read Ayo Sokale’s Article for Autistic Girls Network

Ayo shares her story with fellow Autistic women and girls about her path to a career in Civil Engineering.


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