Resources for Neurodivergent Adults: Mental and Physical Health
February 2, 2023 3:42 AM   Subscribe

Neurodivergent people face some very specific challenges when it comes to physical and mental health, and often don’t respond well to treatments that are designed for neurotypical people. Even when our differences are recognised, treatment is often pathologising. They try to cure or mask difference, rather than meeting our actual needs. This is rooted in a pathologising view of neurodivergence: Nick Walker, a queer, transgender, autistic writer and educator explains: Throw Away The Master's Tools: Liberating Ourselves from the Pathology Paradigm

The dubious assumption that there’s such a thing as a “normal person” lies at the core of the pathology paradigm. The neurodiversity paradigm, on the other hand, does not recognize “normal” as a valid concept when it comes to human diversity.

It’s important to check whether articles are aimed at the “Autistic Community” or the “Autism Community”. That is, are resources written for (and by) autistic people, or are they aimed at parents and caretakers of autistic people. The Difference Between The Autism Community and The Autistic Community.

People sometimes confuse the neurodivergent movement's message of “no such thing as normal” with sayings common in the Autism community, like “autism is a superpower” or “not a disability but a different ability”. In fact, the neurodivergent movement is very much about recognising disability for what it is.

Mental Health Resources

Can a Neurotypical Therapist Treat Neurodivergence
If I have depression and I’m ADHD, my depression may look like a gnarly inability to focus or sit still. Or maybe I blurt out inappropriate things in certain settings.
A neurotypical doc or therapist may look at me and say “he needs Adderall because he’s ADHD” and ignore the fact that I may struggle to express how I’m feeling in a way that the provider understands. Believe me, I’ve seen it time and time again.

What does it mean for a therapist to be neurodiversity affirming
When a therapist is neurodiversity-affirming, they recognize that neurodivergence by itself is not a flaw or illness that needs to be “fixed” or corrected. At the same time, a neurodiversity-affirming therapist acknowledges and affirms that neurodivergence can also be disabling. If someone insists that neurodivergence is always a strength with no deficits, they are falling into the trap of toxic positivity and not honoring the full experience of neurodivergent people.

Thoughts on becoming a Neuro Inclusive Therapist
When I brought in essays I had written where I interwove theology, philosophy, psychology, and subjectivity, he let me read them to him. He was patient and curious and let me introduce him to my inner landscape the way I needed to--through my very active, emotion-drenched mind.

Love, Truth, and Rigid Thinking
Inflexible thinking can also be beautiful. It can also be authentic. It can be love, and truth.

Here’s How my Therapist Made ERP Work For Me
One of my fears was correct: my therapist didn’t know much about autism. But in the end that didn’t matter: what mattered was they were willing to learn. I deferred to them as the expert on OCD, and they deferred to me as the expert on autism. By collaborating on the autism/OCD aspects of my treatment, we were able to pool our knowledge and come up with creative solutions. I didn’t need my therapist to be an autism expert—I just needed them to be neurodiversity-affirming and willing to both lead and listen.

Is CBT Effective When Working with People With Autism
If an autistic person makes the brave decision that therapeutic intervention is needed and they have overcome the barriers to accessing healthcare and have made the choice of who they will engage with, it is important that the therapist engages in a creative and autism-friendly way. Some elements of CBT can offer this flexible approach and with a creative, accepting and knowledgeable therapist, the therapeutic relationship may begin to develop.

When Your OCD Therapy Is Also a Treatment for Writer’s Block
“Before you quit,” the psychopharmacologist offered, “get treated for obsessive-compulsive disorder.” For what? I didn’t have that. I had Scrivener. But the psychopharmacologist believed that it wasn’t Scrivener (a software equivalent of having three hundred browser tabs open at once) and that I didn’t have writer’s block—I had a mental illness.

Can Autistic People Also Have OCD
But then there was something else. A kind of cognitive disfunction that was not a symptom of my mental health conditions. I’d complain to my doctor that I couldn’t always understand what people were saying to me and I hated being around people. The doctor would often respond by changing the dose of my medication or refer me to yet another round of ineffective talking therapy.

Physical Health

Dismantling Autism’s House of Pain
Some people with autism can tolerate extreme heat, cold or pressure and seem relatively insensitive to pain. Paradoxically, they may experience intense pain from idiosyncratic sources but struggle to communicate it.

This is Why PMS Sucks for Autistic Women
According to a study that compared a group of autistic women with a group of non-autistic women who had a learning disability, “there is a marked increase in premenstrual syndrome in women with autism compared with matched controls”.
92% of autistic women showed symptoms of PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), the severe form of PMS. The occurrence of PMDD in the control group was only 11%.

PMDD Has Affected My Whole Life
From painful and disruptive to irrational and suicidal thoughts, the symptoms of PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and PMS (premenstrual syndrome) disproportionately impact people with ADHD.

PMDD, Autism and ADHD, the Hushed Co Morbidity
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a hormonal health condition that causes severe mood and functioning issues, and disproportionately affects people with ADHD or autism. Here, learn about PMDD symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Hypermobility in Neurodivergent People
Neurodivergent people are more than twice as likely as the general population to have hypermobile joints and are far more likely to experience pain on a regular basis, according to new research.

Previous MetaFilter post with resources for autistic adults
posted by Zumbador (11 comments total) 115 users marked this as a favorite
As a soon-to-be-finally-diagnosed 44 yo AuDHD: thank you, it's always a gift when something like this appears on the blue.
posted by madamepsychosis at 5:20 AM on February 2, 2023 [7 favorites]

Thanks! I am a big fan of neurodiverse/neuro-friendly professionals treating my kid.
posted by haptic_avenger at 5:28 AM on February 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

Awesome. As someone on the spectrum, who passed up the opportunity to become a psychotherapist some decades ago because the whole concept of neurodivergence (as it's understood today) didn't exist, I will be perusing these links with more than a casual interest. Thank you.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:30 AM on February 2, 2023 [3 favorites]

As a therapist with ADHD, Depression, Anxiety and PTSD (and quite possibly on the autism spectrum),
Thank you for putting these resources up, especially about supporting neurodivergent patients.
posted by Chocomog at 11:30 AM on February 2, 2023 [3 favorites]

I am not really the audience for this post - I am not neurodivergent myself, and I'm not close to anyone who is - but I would like to live in a world that is welcoming and comfortable for everyone, and I would like to know what I can do to work toward that world, so all of this information is wonderfully helpful to me.

Thank you so very much for assembling and describing these resources so well, Zumbador - I really appreciate you, and this post.
posted by kristi at 12:18 PM on February 2, 2023 [4 favorites]

I've really enjoyed reading all the resources about neurodivergence and therapy. It's fascinating.
posted by plonkee at 12:23 PM on February 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

Here's the abstract for The Relationship between Autism and Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes/Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders
Considerable interest has arisen concerning the relationship between hereditary connective tissue disorders such as the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS)/hypermobility spectrum disorders (HSD) and autism, both in terms of their comorbidity as well as co-occurrence within the same families. This paper reviews our current state of knowledge, as well as highlighting unanswered questions concerning this remarkable patient group, which we hope will attract further scientific interest in coming years. In particular, patients themselves are demanding more research into this growing area of interest, although science has been slow to answer that call. Here, we address the overlap between these two spectrum conditions, including neurobehavioral, psychiatric, and neurological commonalities, shared peripheral neuropathies and neuropathologies, and similar autonomic and immune dysregulation. Together, these data highlight the potential relatedness of these two conditions and suggest that EDS/HSD may represent a subtype of autism.
posted by aniola at 1:13 PM on February 2, 2023 [7 favorites]

Yep, ADHD and HSD here. (Probably not autism, it's complicated to disentangle.*) I'm halfway through that one that says "EDS/HSD may represent a subtype of autism", and I'm still not buying that particular framing, but I am very curious why they tend to go together.

Thank you for that one about neurodivergence being about accepting disability, and not my disability is a "superpower". I've encountered the "superpower" crowd and I find them really frustrating -- yeah, hyperfocus can be nice, but only when you can actually choose what to focus on and don't waste entire days focused on pointless stuff you don't really care about in the long run. And it discounts the discomfort of being unable to organize your thoughts into sentences that make sense when you're trying to communicate something, and the misery of a brain that won't let you think through something that matters to you because it's too busy filling up your mental RAM with random unrelated thoughts.

*I feel like I probably come off as autistic in social situations, but when you've spent the first four decades of your life with untreated ADHD, you miss a lot of the social cues you were supposed to be learning from and that itself can result in social awkwardness. I've heard it described as, with autism you don't know how others are feeling and so you don't know how to react, but with ADHD you don't notice how others are feeling (because you were distracted) so you fail to react. The latter feels like my experience.
posted by antinomia at 7:30 AM on February 3, 2023 [7 favorites]

I've heard it described as, with autism you don't know how others are feeling and so you don't know how to react, but with ADHD you don't notice how others are feeling (because you were distracted) so you fail to react. The latter feels like my experience.

Not to invalidate you, but as an AuDHD: knowing how other people are feeling is a learned skill, right? I have to be a little more conscious about it, but I am pretty good at reading people's signals... as long as I'm paying attention, not topo tired, and putting energy into the interaction. What that looks like for me is that social interactions when I'm distracted, exhausted, or not putting my full attention into paying close attention run a much higher risk of me missing things or misstepping than ones where I'm rested and have the space to pay attention. It actually really does feel a lot like not noticing what other people are feeling, because with attention and conscious thought I can in fact effectively work that out.

I really like the piece on rigidity of thinking being a positive trait in some ways, because it rings very true to me.
posted by sciatrix at 10:20 AM on February 3, 2023 [3 favorites]

Zumbador, you are killing it with these megaposts! Rock on!
posted by heatherlogan at 6:07 PM on February 3, 2023 [4 favorites]

[That is to say, these megaposts are an epic feat of greatness, and you are fantastic.]
posted by heatherlogan at 5:45 AM on February 4, 2023 [1 favorite]

« Older Ted Chiang joins SFI Miller Scholars   |   LUMA is all about light Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments