Photo ID: Construction paper with ripped edges placed in a rainbow with a picture of Sonny Jane Wise to one side and text overlay

Are You Actually Neurodivergent Affirming? An Interview with Sonny Jane Wise

Curt and Katie interview Sonny Jane Wise, the Lived Experience Educator. We chat about therapists getting stuck in neuro-normative expectations and norms or refusing to accept medication or accommodations as neurodivergent affirming. We look at how you can get more creative and individualized to support neurodivergent individuals more effectively. We also look specifically at neurodivergent friendly DBT and whether skills-deficit models are inherently ableist.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

An Interview with Sonny Jane Wise, The Lived Experience Educator

Photo ID: Picture of Sonny Jane Wise wearing a rainbow top and a green hatSonny Jane is a multiply neurodivergent or more specifically, an Autistic Bipolar ADHDer. Sonny is an Internationally recognised speaker, author, consultation and creator as well as the founder of the Drop In Care Space.

Sonny was diagnosed as a child and grew up only hearing a deficit narrative about their neurodivergence. Since then, they have gone on to build an audience of over 100, 000 people online, wrote The Neurodivergent Friendly Workbook of DBT Skills and We’re All Neurodiverse due to be published November this year and has worked with organisations around Australia to help change the narrative on neurodiversity and neurodivergence.

In this podcast episode, we talk about creating neurodivergent affirmative therapy practices

Too often, therapists create goals and engage in practices that are neuro-normative. When working with neurodivergent clients and their families, these practices can be harmful. We asked Sonny Jane Wise, the Lived Experience Educator, to talk with us about how to best incorporate neurodivergent affirming practices for therapy.

What do therapists get wrong when moving toward neurodiversity affirming practice?

“[Neurodiversity affirming practice is] about recognizing that there are options, and we respect how someone wants to work with their differences.” – Sonny Jane Wise

  • Removing medication or accommodations as an acceptable option
  • Failing to allow for individual differences and preferences
  • Neuro-normativity shows up in goals, especially looking at independence and productivity
  • Setting expectations inappropriately

How can therapists become more neurodivergent affirming?

 “Needs trumps expectations. Needs are more important than someone’s expectations.” – Sonny Jane Wise

  • Understanding the impacts of intersectionality on how someone chooses how they navigate their neurodivergence
  • Moving away from independence as the goal of therapy
  • Understanding that a neurodivergent person’s needs are more important than neuro-normative norms
  • Getting creative with problem-solving and communication
  • Recognizing differences, learning to work with them and not try to change them or work against them

Are skills-deficit based models (like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) inherently ableist?

  • When the model states that the problem lies with the individual, then it is ableist
  • Adjusting the environment and the external factors is more appropriate
  • DBT skills can be helpful to learn emotions regulation that wasn’t learned when growing up
  • It is important to recognize differences and giving opportunities to work with differences
  • Letting go of the one size fits all and moving toward options

What is an ideal for neurodiversity affirming spaces?

“When we see these differences as differences, then we start working with them…[that’s why] a paradigm shift towards neurodiversity is so important. Because it is going to impact how we view differences and therefore how we work with them.”  – Sonny Jane Wise

  • Viewing differences as differences and not something to be fixed or changed
  • Needs based system (not diagnosis-based system)
  • Understanding that everyone needs different things and accommodations, not just those with
  • Removing neuro-normative standards and expectations

Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Sonny Jane Wise @livedexperienceeducator on Instagram

Sonny Jane’s book: The Neurodivergent Friendly Book of DBT Skills

New book coming out in November 2023: We’re All Neurodiverse


Our Linktree:

Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Neurodivergence: An Interview with Joel Schwartz, PsyD

Navigating the Social Media Self-Diagnosis Trend

How Therapists Can Really Help Kids Who Are Being Bullied

Who we are:

Picture of Curt Widhalm, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcast; a nice young man with a glorious beard.Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Picture of Katie Vernoy, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcastKatie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


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Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):

Transcripts do not include advertisements just a reference to the advertising break (as such timing does not account for advertisements).

… 0:00
(Opening Advertisement)

Announcer 0:00
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm 0:14
Welcome back modern therapists. This is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy. This is the podcast for therapists about the things that we do in our practices, the people that we serve, the ways that we can do better as mental health professionals. And we are joined by one of our Therapy Reimagined speakers that I think we missed first time around, we normally try to get everybody out on the podcast kind of around conference time to build up a lot of excitement. There was a little thing called the COVID pandemic that I think contributed to this. But we are so lucky to have Sonny Jane Wise join us known across a lot of social media as the lived experience educator, and they are here to talk to us about neuro divergence and making things just more available to more people in the practices that we do. So thank you so much for joining us today.

Sonny Jane Wise 1:09
Thank you for having me. It’s awesome to be here, finally. But well also my fault for not booking the podcast originally, let’s just chalk it down to COVID and ADHD.

Curt Widhalm 1:22
We don’t have to assign blame here, we can just be like, here’s what it is. So…

Sonny Jane Wise 1:27
It’s not blame. It’s an explanation.

Katie Vernoy 1:31
No blame, no shame. We’re excited to be here. And I am I am just so excited to have you Sonny Jane. I loved your presentation during our conference. I am an avid follower of all of your social media and all the wonderful things you’re putting out. And so I’m excited to hear your answer to the first question that we have and give to everyone that we interview. Who are you? And what are you putting out into the world?

Sonny Jane Wise 1:54
So who I am, I guess I would like to say that I’m a non binary and disabled and multiply neurodivergent advocate and speaker and writer. And what I’m putting out in the world is I guess a paradigm shift where we change how we view and understand neurodivergent people. So that’s what I’m putting out in the world.

Curt Widhalm 2:18
So we start a lot of our episodes with a question that is meant to help educate. There’s been a lot of mistakes that mental health professionals have made in working with neurodivergent clients. We asked this to help people not make the same mistakes. But what did therapists usually get wrong about neurodivergent affirming care?

Sonny Jane Wise 2:40
I think a lot of people, what they get wrong about neurodivergent affirming care, or neurodiversity affirming practice is that it is against medication. And I feel like that is something people get wrong. That when we talk about the neurodiversity affirming practice, people assume that it’s all about accommodating the individual. And there’s no you’re not allowed to suggest medication or you’re not allowed to suggest, you know, things that help someone like in a sense that, you know, that falls out of the medical model. And so that’s something that people get wrong. They assume neurodiversity affirming practice, or neurodivergent affirming care is all about the social model of disability. But I like to think that there’s kind of like a nice balance. That we are allowed to, you know, take medication for our ADHD, or our schizophrenia or epilepsy, for example, or OCD. You’re allowed to choose to take medication for neurodivergence. But here’s the catch. It’s all about one individual chooses. And so that’s where people go wrong. They assume that neurodiversity affirming practice, or neurodivergent affirming care is all about moving away from medication. Whereas it’s more like providing medication as an option, as a choice. It’s about respecting that there are multiple ways to work with one’s differences. And we don’t value one way over another way. If someone wants accommodations to work with their manic episodes, if they have Bipolar, and they experience manic episodes, sometimes they may choose medication. Whereas for someone else, they may be like, I do not want medication. So it’s about recognizing that there are options, and we respect how someone wants to work with their differences. And yeah, I think I just think that’s something people, you know, do get wrong about that because they assume that neurodiversity affirming practice is all about “We change in individual and medication changes in individuals, so we can’t recommend that.” But that’s not what neurodiversity affirming practice is about. That makes sense.

Katie Vernoy 4:53
That makes a lot of sense. And I like the idea of it really being dependent on the person, on how they want to deal with their differences, how they want to embrace or work with their differences or, you know, kind of make things easier by potentially treating some of those differences.

Sonny Jane Wise 5:10

Katie Vernoy 5:10
It seems like that folks are really very adamant and I think this is, oftentimes when folks have been oppressed have been forced to kind of fit within a norm, there is a push back. And I think that makes sense to push back against the medical model, against the status quo. And it sounds like you’re kind of on the pendulum swing, coming back saying wait a second, we can use what’s beneficial, we can choose to do that and still be.

Sonny Jane Wise 5:37
Yeah, we can push back against the status quo, we can push back against norms and expectations, and also acknowledge that it is very contextual, how you work with your differences. So for example, and I feel like this kind of will lead into one of your further questions: I, you know, as someone who with bipolar who experiences manic episodes, and as a white person, you know, it is less necessary for me to manage my manic episodes with medication, because I don’t experience as much discrimination, stigma, violence, threats, bullying as a black person who experiences manic episodes. And that’s why it can be really contextual. And another example is with ADHD, someone who has to work a nine to five full time job because they have a family to support, a mortgage to pay, they’re going to need ADHD medication more in order to meet the demands of you know, a full time job, versus someone like myself, who doesn’t work a full time job. And so therefore, ADHD medication isn’t as much as a necessity for me, because I’m not having to meet those capitalist demands. And I think that’s why, you know, context is so important with how we work with our differences. And not just the context of our differences, but the context of our other identities and our other experiences, gender, sexuality, race, disability, socio economic status, that all plays a part in how we all choose to work with our differences. And so I think, you know, that’s why we have to consider the context of people’s experiences and people’s choices.

Curt Widhalm 7:30
I love… um, we send our question list or our starting point list to our guests before each episode, and I am just trying to pick which one of the ones that comes next to build off of here.

Sonny Jane Wise 7:42

Curt Widhalm 7:44
What you’re talking about is also almost just kind of this premise of neuro normative practice that needs to be addressed right alongside this, because as I’m listening to your talk, and I work with a lot of neuro divergent clients, that it’s even just kind of whose goals are assigned to therapy in the first place. And that needs to be addressed as a piece right alongside the intersectionality.

Sonny Jane Wise 8:11
No, absolutely.

Curt Widhalm 8:12
So I’m kind of like you’re leading into intersectionality, you’re leading into neuro normative as a, you know, basis of practices in the first place, like, keep on going, I’m just listening. Yeah.

Sonny Jane Wise 8:27
Like, No, you are right, like, you know, there is so much neuro normativity within our therapy practices, and not just our therapy practices, but you know, our expectations and our goals and our standards. I mean, one of our, you know, biggest things that we encourage during therapy is independence. We see independence as the ultimate goal, you know, it’s the sign that you’ve made it. Whereas, you know, that’s a neuro normative expectation rooted in capitalism, that we really need to reframe that, for so many of us were not never going to be fully independent. And that’s okay. And I’d also you know, beg to differ that no one is fully independent. All of us are interdependent in so many ways. Just going by the fact that, you know, some of us rely on child care, on Ubers, on taxis, on public transport, someone else cutting our hair or cooking our food or fixing our car. We all rely on people for support and to meet our needs. It’s just that some needs, some dependencies have been normalized, while others have been seen as like, you know, a burden or a sign of having a disorder. And so we really need to reframe our expectations around independence and, you know, just recognize that some people will always you know, need support, someone will always need a carer, someone will always need, you know, a support worker to help them with certain tasks. And I think these are things that we have to normalize and see as the diversity of like human experiences. And that’s just one expectation that we can reframe. Because when we reframe the expectation, our therapy goals change, our approaches change. We’re they’re no longer focused on, you know, trying to change an individual into meeting these really high unfair expectations, and instead meeting a person where they are and be realistic.

Katie Vernoy 10:29
Even in talking about independence as a goal, it comes from individualistic societies, which is also where the medical model comes from. And it seems like it doesn’t even address kind of the cultural norms that might be in each person’s life, as well as whatever their individual needs are, and where they would like to get. I think all of us have a different interaction with the world and we kind of allow for it when we’re more neuro normative, or neurotypical. Whereas I think there’s that element of making these neuro divergent needs be disabled, disordered. I feel like it really opens it up. I really appreciate that answer.

Sonny Jane Wise 11:11
Thank you. And that’s why, yeah, intersectionality is so important, because we can’t apply Western norms on to every individual, we have to consider cultural norms, we have to consider how our expectations or assumptions do not match with an individual’s, you know, norms or cultural expectations. We have to, like start seeing all of an individual rather than just one identity. Like if we have an autistic client in front of us, they’re not just an autistic client, you know, they have so many other experiences and identities. And we have to see all of that, because all of that overlaps. I think, yeah, that’s why intersectionality is so important when considering neurodiversity, because they’re all a part of the bigger picture, and we have to see the whole picture, we can’t just see one part of the picture, because then we aren’t considering the context of someone’s experiences, we aren’t considering what Western norms that we may be reinforcing when we don’t see the whole picture, as well with our goals, or our strategies or recommendations that we provide, if they don’t see the whole picture, they may not serve or support the individual.

… 12:28
(Advertisement Break)

Curt Widhalm 12:30
So I know a lot of our modern therapists listeners are at least embracing this idea of, you know, making their practices more accessible in a lot of the ways they’re talking about. And I know that there’s clinicians out there who don’t and we’re not really concerned about them. They’ve got some catching up to do. But, you know, like, one of the things that I hear is, you know, kind of the competing needs of what is good for the client might not be great for the parents expectations. That there’s kind of some competing needs that come up as far as where’s the line between enabling behaviors and what is a healthy expression of what a client needs? And I’m wondering if you can speak to that?

Sonny Jane Wise 13:12
Yeah, well, I think the key word there is expectations. So, expectations aren’t needs. So you know, if a client’s needs contradict a parent’s expectations, needs trumps expectations. Needs are more important than someone’s expectations. I don’t know if that sounds a bit blunt to say, but it’s true. But and I think in that sense, that requires people adjusting their expectations, reframing the expectations, getting to the root of what they’re expecting, and why and unpacking that. And that’s why, you know, therapy often feels like such an individualistic, you know, approach because it’s all well and good to support our client and their needs. But unless the people around them change and reframe their expectations, you know, we’re not really doing much. And so that’s why, you know, it does require people around us to challenge their expectations and challenge their norms. Because when we can reframe our expectations and get rid of our neuro normative norms, we actually start making room for people to be able to embrace their differences and function in a way that honors how they function. And I think that’s why it’s so important for people to reframe the expectations otherwise, we’re not making room for people to be themselves for lack of a better word.

Katie Vernoy 14:45
That makes a lot of sense. And I think there’s this additional complexity that I’m wanting to kind of dig further into. A lot of families, a lot of couples or partners or kind of folks that end up together, living in family unit, so to speak, or potentially even in group therapy, or those types of things where it’s not here is the single neurodivergent identified patient. And here are all the neurotypical people around them. It’s there is a whole, you know, kind of rainbow of neuro divergence that happens within the family. And so there’s competing needs from different types of neuro divergence. There’s competing expectations because of, you know, all of us sitting in this neuro normative world. And so when it becomes more complex, what are your recommendations on how you kind of sort those things out? The competing needs of folks that have different types of neuro divergent needs or different moments in time because obviously, that it’s not like, oh, I always need this thing.

Sonny Jane Wise 15:39
Honestly, my best recommendation, and I feel like this is the only recommendation, get creative with problem solving, communication, get creative with problem solving. Because I’ve like come up against this question a few times. One example was, you know, there was a couple that would hang out, you know, have movie nights, watch TV, do couple things. And one couple would stim in a way that produce sound, and the other person didn’t like sound. So one person was fulfilling their need by stimming. And the other person was getting overstimulated by the sound that the stimming was making. And so we had to explore like, okay, so how do both people get their needs met, and I, we ended up like coming up with the idea that if some one person needs to stim, they are welcomed to stim, and the other person is allowed to honor their boundaries and needs by not having to listen to that shit. And you know, this person, whenever they were bothered by the stimming, either the person who is stimming, if they’re happy to go into another room and do their thing they can, and if the other person who doesn’t like the sound wanted to leave the room, they can. And originally, they were hesitant with that solution, because the way they saw it, they’re are a couple, they’re are a partnership. So therefore, they had to spend the evening together, watching, you know, TV. To be a part in their own separate rooms, that’s like, couples don’t do that couples don’t have their own rooms. And so that was like, kind of this norm, this expectation that they had to reframe that it is okay for them have their own space, it is okay, that even though like, you know, they were engaged or something, they didn’t have to spend all their time together all the time. They were allowed to have their own lounge rooms, they were allowed to have their own bedrooms, because of their competing needs. And so that’s just like, you know, one, like, kind of creative solution that required a little bit of for getting creative and adjusting, you know, norms and expectations. Or they could have just worn noise cancelling headphones. Like, yeah.

Katie Vernoy 17:59
But they actually had to understand their needs, be able to express their needs, and get to a place where they were, I’m gonna say, wise mind, because I know we’re gonna go to DBT pretty soon, but they had to get into wise mind to be able to have that conversation and not feel offended, not feel like they were, you know, breaking these norms. They actually had to be able to get into that place of self acceptance and other acceptance to really come to that.

Sonny Jane Wise 18:24

Katie Vernoy 18:25
And I liked that. I like that idea. Because I think it’s, it allows anything to be on the table. If we don’t stick to neuro normative norms. Everything is possible.

Sonny Jane Wise 18:34
Yeah, anything goes. And I think, you know, that’s why all of this awareness and discussion around neuro divergence is so important, because in order to get to that solution, in order to accommodate everyone’s needs, we need to get talking about it. We need to identify our needs, and be able to express them and get to the point where we recognize everyone’s needs are valid, and that we can find ways where people’s needs and differences are respected and accommodated. Just how we get there might look a little different sometimes.

Curt Widhalm 19:08
Yeah, and as you were telling that story, I was like, Oh, this is just like even neurotypical couples where they annoy each other and just need to find their own needs. It’s just a lot different path to get there.

Sonny Jane Wise 19:19
Honestly, more people need to have their own spaces in their house.

Curt Widhalm 19:24
So Katie is bringing up DBT. Sonny has written a wonderful book called The Neurodivergent Friendly workbook of DBT skills. And I’ve mentioned a few times on the podcast, my practice, we offer comprehensive DBT. We have some overlap with our neuro divergent clients. We’ve got a group that’s working with them and going through our trainings with this we kept coming up with kind of the traditional DBT people and there’s a lot of focus on DBT being a skills deficit learning sort of space and in trying to make our practice are divergent firming. Or like, you know, there’s maybe a conflict between these two ideologies here and glad to have an author of this book be able to say is these kinds of practices that look at things as being skills based or as being skills deficits… Are they inherently ableist? Are we just working against this whole neurodivergent thing ourselves? How do we make sense of this?

Sonny Jane Wise 20:26
Ah, see. Uh, huh. Love that question, because there is no clear cut answer. Alright, so I’ve got two frames of mind, which they’re in agreements with each other. The first thought they have where viewing DBT, for example, as a deficit based, you know, type of therapy, in a way, yes. Because what DBT and, you know, things like CBT assume is that the problem lies within the individual. And like, that is, you know, a deficit understanding that the, you know, the problem is with the individual. I mean, I think that’s, you know, something that has to be addressed, which is why a lot of the DBT skills that I reframe, move away from viewing the individual as a problem, and instead, you know, moves towards, hang on how can we accommodate someone’s differences and needs and adjust the environment? How can we, you know, focus on the environment and the external factors rather than the individual? And then the second thought that I have with that question is, the way I see DBT is not inherently always a skills deficit, though, DBT can be taught that way. But it’s more so we have many of us who do find DBT helpful, find it helpful, because we haven’t been taught to regulate our emotions in a way that accommodates our differences. So as we know, you know, we learn emotional regulation growing up, you know, from our parents, from the people around us, it’s a skill that, you know, we learn. But if our parents are unaware of, for example, my autistic differences, so I experienced alexithymia, where I can’t really identify or label or express my emotions, I also experience really low interoception. So I have trouble differentiating when I’m in pain versus when I’m upset. And I’m also ADHD, so my mind moves 100 miles per minute. So if my parents aren’t really aware of those differences, it means they really kind of can’t help me emotionally regulate. So I grew up not knowing how to regulate my emotions, because my differences weren’t accommodated. And so that’s where I see DBT skills being helpful, if they recognize my differences, that DBT skills can help me learn to regulate my emotions, because I never had that opportunity growing up, because, you know, my parents weren’t aware of my differences. And so it’s kind of like, you know, I’m a bit delayed in learning how to regulate my emotions. But everyone deserves that opportunity. And so DBT skills can be helpful if they recognize our differences. And these DBT skills, approach it from, hey, how do you regulate your emotions? Let’s figure this out. Rather than you don’t know how to regulate your emotions, you need to learn this. It’s about giving people the opportunity to find ways to work with their differences. But obviously, that requires reframing a lot of DBT skills to have that outcome. Does that make sense?

Curt Widhalm 23:53
I always give credit when people who were much more experienced in these areas, affirm things that we have already stumbled into, in doing things ourselves. And so glad to know that we’ve been working on this in the in the way that you’re describing it. And that’s just really kind of like, all right, this is not a one size fits all sorts of thing. And there are going to be people who really gravitate towards one thing and really don’t need some of the other skills. We definitely kind of take a lot of our here’s options. We’re going to go through a while we’re going to go through it and teach the modules but really, this is more of a if it’s healthy, and adaptable, and it works. And we’re open to things that might need to be shaped and worked for one client over another. This is definitely all helpful.

Sonny Jane Wise 24:40
Yeah, and that’s what it comes down to: options, options and flexibility and moving away from making assumptions and placing expectations on individuals. It’s just about yeah, like letting go of knowing what’s right and letting go of the one size fits all approach. I’m moving towards options.

… 25:02
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Katie Vernoy 25:04
You mentioned and I think this is part of the options conversation. But you mentioned kind of working with differences. And so I’d love to hear what you mean by that, because I think that’s something I’m starting to hear in my practice with neurodivergent clients that I have is working with your differences versus working against your differences. Can you speak a little bit to that?

Sonny Jane Wise 25:23
So a lot of that comes down to recognizing differences, and not forcing someone to go against them or change them. So a good example could be mindfulness. So traditionally, especially within DBT, mindfulness is taught as a skill where, you know, you’re supposed to sit still and think about your thoughts, or think about a leaf floating along a river. Whereas

Katie Vernoy 25:51
I’m sorry, that just sounds really hard to do.

Sonny Jane Wise 25:55
So we that’s like, you know, that’s a mindfulness skill. But if we were to work with differences, we would recognize that some people have, I can’t remember how to pronounce it, aphantasia where they don’t see images in their mind. So therefore, watching a leaf floating along a river in their mind, that’s not working with their differences. Someone else may experience, might need more proprioceptive input, or they may need more movement in order to, you know, practice mindfulness. So working with differences means Oh, hey, you achieve mindfulness more when you’re able to move. So what does that look like? Or someone else you know, may find that they achieve mindfulness more, because they have like super fast, hyperactive mind that they need, may achieve mindfulness that looks like having a fast mind, but still, like, you know, experiencing mindfulness. So it’s about just recognizing that what something looks like for someone else looks different for another person. When we work with someone’s differences, we incorporate the differences and include them rather than fight against them.

Curt Widhalm 27:10
And a lot of this is, especially for those who are maybe in need of support from family members or their loved ones and that kind of stuff has also being able to help incorporate, hey, here’s how we can support this in the environment. Here’s how we can further extend this and shape things at home that really ended up making this more of, we’re not here to fix things. We’re here to build spaces to be able to thrive and hopefully be able to give some skills along the way that makes this as a win win as best as possible for everybody.

Sonny Jane Wise 27:44
Yeah, and I think that’s why acknowledging neurodiversity is so important. Because when we start seeing these differences as valid differences, we move away from trying to fix them, we move away from expecting individuals to just get over it, or, you know, we move away from parents and professionals seeing these differences as something that can be easily changed. And when we see these differences as differences, then we start working with them, because we can recognize that, hey, you know, these differences aren’t going anywhere. So let’s start working with them. And I think that’s why, you know, a paradigm shift towards neuro diversity is so important, because it is going to impact how we view differences and therefore how we work with them.

Katie Vernoy 28:35
How do you think the paradigm shift looks in reality? Like if we were to get there, what would it look like?

Sonny Jane Wise 28:42
If we were to get there, I would see us having a need space system where people’s needs are met, regardless of a diagnosis. Where people have access to AAC alternative communication, and they don’t need a diagnosis to use AAC. Where people can, you know, receive accommodations without needing a diagnosis. Because we live in a society that recognizes everyone is different, and everyone has different needs, and everyone deserves to have their needs met. We move away from a, you know, medical system where the only way you receive support or services or accommodations is if you’re labeled as having a disorder. We would move away from that and into a society where people’s needs are being met. Just because that’s human decency. And I guess as well we live in a world where we don’t have neuro normative expectations and standards, but honestly, I can’t even picture what that looks like. Because it isn’t our reality right now and but a needs based system would be really awesome.

Curt Widhalm 29:57
Where can people find you and all of the wonderful work that you’re doing?

Sonny Jane Wise 30:02
Instagram, mainly, I’m the lived experience educator on Instagram, as well as Facebook, I’m on LinkedIn on the Sonny Jane Wise. And other than that, I try to keep all my resources and that on my website, which again,

Katie Vernoy 30:18
Tell us a little bit about the book that you put out and any other things that people can access directly to get a little bit of?

Sonny Jane Wise 30:26
Well, obviously, I’ve got The Neuro-divergent Friendly Workbook of DBT Skills. And yes, I do regret the really long name, that’s available on Amazon, you can also get a digital copy of my website. But in November this year, I’m publishing a new book called We’re All Neurodiverse. And that’s a book that dives into neurodiversity, neuro divergence, the neurodiversity paradigm, and it also dives into neuro normativity and unpacks neuro normative expectations and norms that are riddled throughout society. So it’s gonna be a really cool book.

Katie Vernoy 31:03
Oh, I can’t wait to read it.

Curt Widhalm 31:04
And we will include links to all of that in our show notes over at And follow us on our social media, join our Facebook group, the Modern Therapist Group, and let us know about anything else that we should be considering. We’re open to all ideas, whether it’s about this topic or anything else. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy and Sonny Jane Wise.

… 31:28
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