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09/19/19- Affirming Strategies for Working with Neurodiverse Clients


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General Information

Title: Affirming Strategies for Working with Neurodiverse Clients

Presented By: August Stockwell, PhD, BCBA-D & Worner Leland, MS, BCBA, co-authored by Lee Nethercott

Date: Thursday, 09/19/19

Time: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm eastern (New York)

Recording Availability: 09/20/2019 – 09/25/2019 at 5 pm eastern


Neurodiversity is: “A concept where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. These differences can include those labeled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others” (National Symposium on Neurodiversity, 2011). The neurodiversity movement calls for an understanding of neurological differences across individuals, and it advocates for the social acceptance of people with non-neurotypical diagnoses, experiences, and behaviors. This is a shift from a more traditional medical model of viewing neurological differences as pathology, and instead, it views neurology differences as natural variation within the human species (Jaarsma & Welin, 2012). While not directly related to how the term neurodiversity is defined, the neurodiversity movement has become associated with certain groups of individuals that oppose the use of evidence-based interventions used to address challenging behavior that some individuals who are neurodiverse may engage in. In addition, some equate the movement with the “anti-ABA” movement. ABAC guest speakers Worner Leland and Dr. August Stockwell of Upswing Advocates and their guest Lee Nethercott, Co-Organizer of Chicago Neurodiverse Queers will address this disconnect between public opinion and the actual purpose of the movement and demonstrate that a neurodiversity model is supported by the ethical standards and professional guidelines of major mental health and behavioral health organizations including the American Psychological Association and the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. During this webinar, the presenters will highlight the ethical importance of promoting client autonomy and BACB ethical requirements to advocate for the best interests of the primary client (2.02) and to involve the client in the planning of and consent to all services (4.02). Empirically validated and supported therapeutic and behavior analytic services can be a meaningful way to promote client skill building for greater autonomy. Based on a collaboration with members of the neurodiverse community in the Chicago area, this presentation will review the key elements of a neurodiverse approach to understanding client experience and share the perspectives of neurodiverse people who have received therapy and other services from helping professionals. This workshop will address the importance of social validity in service provision and navigating conflicts in ethical commitments and requirements. Finally, this workshop will present concrete strategies that helping professionals can employ when working with neurodiverse clients as well as provide an opportunity for discussion of how these strategies apply to each attendee’s professional practice. Empirically-supported literature and data will be presented where applicable and available, and audience questions and discussion will be welcomed throughout the workshop.

Learning Objectives

After attending this introductory-level workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Explain how a perspective of neurodiversity differs from a more traditional view of mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and other neurological differences across individuals.
  • Explain a “client as expert” model in both therapeutic and behavior analytic terms.
  • Select ways in which a “client as expert” model can be used to make adaptations to the therapy or behavior analytic environment that can empower clients and increase the impact of services.
  • Select ethical codes that directly align with a neurodiversity approach.
  • State several concrete, evidence-based strategies a helping professional can use in order to create an affirming environment for neurodiverse clients.

Presenter Bio and Disclosure Statement

August Stockwell, PhD, BCBA-D, Executive Director of Upswing Advocates, Associate Director of Research and Practice at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology August Stockwell is the Executive Director at Upswing Advocates: a nonprofit organization that provides education and research opportunities that focus on the LGBTQIA community. Over the past 10 years, August’s research has focused on topics including polyamory, communication in relationships, gender, sexual behavior, mindfulness, and effective skill-building strategies. They have a vision of using precise measurement and an individualized approach to connect people to affirming, accessible interventions that create meaningful change. August is also the Associate Director of Research in the Applied Behavior Analysis Department at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Worner Leland, MS, BCBA, Researcher and Educator at Upswing Advocates, BCBA at Empowered: A Center for Sexuality Worner Leland, MS, BCBA is an Researcher and Educator at Upswing Advocates and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at Empowered: A Center for Sexuality. For the past several years, Worner has also served as a sex educator with a focus on expanding affirming sexual education, consent education, and education on sexuality and data collection. Their research has focused on intimacy-related behaviors in the queer community, and they value centering affirmation of all identities and relationship styles in intimacy-related research. Worner is also the President of the Association for Behavior Analysis International Sexual Behavior Research and Practice Special Interest Group.

Lee Nethercott is passionate about empowering and advocating for LGBTQ and neurodiverse individuals, as well as educating people and breaking down misconceptions about these communities through research and activism. They currently co-organize Chicago Neurodiverse Queers (NQ): an LGBTQ-focused meetup group for neurodiverse individuals. For this presentation, Lee facilitated focus groups of NQ members and provided feedback and research assistance. Lee holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago and aspires to complete additional schooling to become a Sociologist. In the meantime, they enjoy baking and spending time with their dog, Sawyer.

Disclosure Statement

Upswing Advocates does not receive royalties for any of the materials or companies discussed during this event. All speaker fees are sent directly to and support Upswing Advocates: a nonprofit organization that provides sliding scale coaching, groups, trainings, and research opportunities that focus on the LGBTQIA community

Credit Hour Information

  • Certified/Licensed Behavior Analysts: 3 Type II Ethics CEUs
  • Psychologists, counselors, social workers: 3 continuing education credits- Ethics/Culture and Diversity

Only behavior analysts and psychologists may view the recording for continuing education credit. All other professions must attend live.

For ABAC’s continuing education approvals statements please view our Continuing Education page


6:00 pm: Introduction
6:05 pm: Webinar begins
7:30 pm: 10 minute break
7:40 pm: First Q&A session
7:50 pm: Webinar resumes
8:45 pm: Second Q&A session
9:00 pm: Evaluation, post-test and attendance code submission forms