Why We Understand Neurodivergence and the Usefulness of Our Model So Deeply

June 5, 2024

At Positive Development, our person-centered approach to therapy is built on acceptance, respect, and celebration of differences. That’s why we meet each of our clients where they are. We learn about their strengths, challenges, passions, and unique personality traits to tailor our therapies in ways that make sense for each person. 

This embrace of differences is baked into our company foundation and is perhaps best demonstrated by our personal experiences with neurodivergence, either as parents or because we may be neurodivergent ourselves.

Positive Development is more than a job for us. We deeply understand the challenges and joys of our clients and families and, crucially, why insurance-covered developmental support is so necessary. Below, we share some of our staff members’ experiences so you can learn why our team has a different perspective — and how we will always celebrate that.

As Parents of Autistic Children

“This is my life’s work — my life experience as a parent coming full circle. My son received developmental intervention starting from 2001 through most of the decade. For the first three or four years, we paid for every session out of pocket. Eventually individual sessions for speech, OT and mental health services were covered by insurance, but not for the full amount. Of course, it was worth it. I'd spend 10 times that amount. We were fortunate though that we had the money to do that. And so few families are. The idea that we could give families this experience of learning about this model and watching their children grow and develop in this model and have insurance pay for it was like a dream come true for me.”

“I'm a mom of four creatives and two are autistic. I am so excited to have found Positive Development so I can share some of the things that, honestly, I didn't know early on. Part of what gets me up and going in the morning is the opportunity to share and educate and tell the world what's possible. I didn't know we had choices. You trust the experts. One of the things I've learned here at Positive Development is you know your child better than anyone. You have the power to say ‘This isn’t for us.’ 

One of the traditional ways of thinking about autism is to treat behaviors. If my kid is throwing a tantrum, we must get the tantrum to stop. The developmental model looks at the root causes. What are kids trying to communicate? This is a true story: When they don’t want to take a shower, you might think they’re just being lazy or they’re in junior high. But it might be that they don't like the lights, they don't like the sound of the water, the water pressure might be too great. What we learn through this model is to stop and wait and observe what's going on and what might be happening underneath. Honestly, once you unlock that as a parent, there's so much more happening than you knew and communication and growth happens.

One of the things that makes Positive Development really unique is the groundedness. When you meet with us, you are approached with respect and kindness and acceptance. As a parent, it can be really hard. You feel like you're fighting all of the time and wondering ‘Am I doing something wrong?’ My child is having a meltdown at the grocery store and you just feel this parental guilt. Here, there is just a beautiful acceptance for both parents and kids. You are beautiful and worthy as you are. You don't have to pretend to anything else. You don't have to mask. You don't have to try to please anybody. You just be you.”

“I have two adult children on the autism spectrum, ages 23 and 22. Anything and everything I'm doing right now is driven by my experience with my children and their own needs. When our chief strategy officer, who I'd worked with before in prior life at another company, approached me about this, it was an opportunity to bring together personal passion with a professional passion. Who doesn't want to be able to combine your two worlds together? And so I found this to be an excellent opportunity. I love what I do and I look forward to doing it every day. 

We're doing things that just haven't been done. For a very long time, there was only one mode of autism therapy available and there was limited access to alternatives, even with my own children. Positive Development is making those alternatives available more readily. And that's a huge thing because of the nature of the model, which is more naturalistic, developmental. It's driven by the child's developmental and natural behavior, as opposed to a modification mindset."

Embracing neurodivergence and the passion for developmental care at work

“Everyone holds each other up here and they make a point to help you take care of yourself too. [You can see this within the neurodivergence of our staff.] You aren't required to show your face in meetings if that makes you uncomfortable. We're very into the sensory part of how people work and we do that for our internal people, as well as for our clients. That's huge. It's walking the talk.

Positive Development is changing the conversation around how people see themselves. It used to be that you went to work and you were one person. You put this mask on and then you toggle back to being yourself at home. That's hard. It's a lot of emotional work to keep bridging that. To just be able to be yourself everywhere with no fear of any of it is huge. You have more to give back to work then.”

“One of the values of Positive Development is authenticity. We want to be ourselves as therapists and we want to encourage the parents to be themselves. And then that translates for our clients into: ‘It's okay to be yourself.’ Then they feel good and we can connect. One mom said, ‘Oh, my gosh. This therapist is just so beautiful — how she can be so goofy and she's not afraid of being goofy.’ Imagine how that translates to a child. Typically, these kids are told that the way that they are is not the right way, that they need to stop doing the things that they're doing without understanding where that is coming from.”

“This is a place where you can grow and develop yourself, have fun while you're doing it, and be your authentic self the entire time. It's a place where we embrace difference in all its forms. So we embrace the difference of our clients. We embrace the difference of our teams. All the different forms of difference.”

“We have many folks who leave and go on to pursue higher education from a clinical perspective. We have our paraprofessionals who have gone back to school to become SLPs or OTs. Many of them say, ‘We want to come back when we're done.’ I think that just speaks volumes — not just to their passion for wanting to work with our clients, but the difference that Positive Development makes on a day-to-day basis, not just with our clients but with our staff as well.”

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