Mark started the talk by reflecting on the hiddenness of neurodiversity in the therapy room and reflecting on the broadness of the subject matter of neurodiversity focusing reflections on ADHD, Autism and the crossovers between them. Mark reflected on and asked 3 questions: –
Who here is/has a connection with neurodiversity?
Who here is working with someone who is neurodivergent ?
Who has shame around missing neurodiversity in the therapy room?
This promoting a self reflection and exploring of interactions with neurodiversity in ourselves our lives and in the therapy room.
Mark spoke of misperceptions about neurodivergence reflecting on how our perceptions can be shaded by our view of the world and our perceptions of action/inaction and how this can challenge our thinking when reflecting on neurodivergent clients as we apply unconscious filters and generalisations. Also reflecting on the social cues and processes in the room that maybe differently processed by someone who is neurodivergent. Mark provided many real life examples from the therapy room of client work and also comments he had gained from speaking with clients which was really useful to hear and reflect on.
Mark offered 5 things that neurodiverse people are often labelled as and how these, and other ways of being can be misinterpreted by neurotypical people. E.g., lack of eye contact and dropping of head as not listening however is not often being the case.
Mark looked at definitions of Neurodiversity, Neurodiverse & Neurotypical which bought in discussion around neurodiversity as a social term and the breadth of meaning which is not clearly defined. Further then offering alternative definitions by Jim Sinclair (1993) and also another alternative which seemed to reflect the neurodivergent experience more succinctly.
Mark then explored other pathological & physiological diagnosis & trauma experiences that can all have crossovers with neurodivergence often complicating an understanding of a clients experience/world and/or making a diagnosis (if appropriate). Mark looked at ADHD diagnosis criteria from the DSM V and the complexities of this which generated conversations in the room around difficulties in getting diagnosis and the process time frames in current conditions. Mark spoke of masking and how fundamental aspects of the authentic self are seen to be invalid meaning masking becomes a necessary for people and how this often doesn’t stop completely, however can reduce within acceptance in the relationship.
Mark then posed an exercise to reflect on being asked “How are you?” Tracking the internal responses to the question without answering. This provoking conversations around differences in processes for people and how this kind of question maybe experienced by someone with ADHD/Autism and the processes they may go through from that one question.
Mark bought some direct quotes from clients he has/is working with offering their viewpoints around what they wanted from therapy and what their experiences have been. Mark spoke of different signs that maybe noticed in the therapy room that maybe clues to neurodivergence and also offered examples of what he believes he does in the therapy room.
Mark offered a space to explore a very broad subject matter bringing it alive with real life therapy examples of experiences of his and direct quotes from his client work which I believe bought the whole subject to life.
An insightful and thought provoking talk, Thanks Mark