Leone Centre Glossary

Self-Identity in Neurodiversity-affirmative Therapy


In neurodiversity-affirmative therapy, understanding and nurturing self-identity is important. This approach celebrates neurological differences, empowering individuals to embrace their unique perspectives and strengths.

Identity challenges

Many neurodiverse individuals struggle with self-identity due to societal norms and expectations. This content addresses how therapy can support the formation of an affirming and authentic self-concept.

Challenges faced include:

  1. Stigmatisation and Misunderstanding: Neurodiverse individuals often face stigma and misunderstanding from society, which can negatively impact their self-esteem and sense of identity.
  2. Social Isolation: The difficulties in social communication and interaction can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, further complicating self-identity development.
  3. Pressure to Conform: There is often significant pressure to conform to neurotypical standards and behaviors, which can suppress the true self and create internal conflict.
  4. Lack of Representation: Limited representation of neurodiverse individuals in media and societal roles can make it challenging for them to see themselves reflected in the world in any affirming way.
  5. Internalised Ableism: Negative societal attitudes can be internalized, leading individuals to undervalue their own abilities and worth.

Defining self-identity

Self-identity refers to one’s perception of themselves, including their beliefs, values, and unique traits. In the context of neurodiversity-affirmative therapy, it encompasses an appreciation of one’s neurological differences and how these shape their experiences and worldview.

Understanding neurodiversity

Neurodiversity refers to the variation in human brains and minds, including conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and others. It promotes the view that neurological differences should be respected and valued.

Benefits of affirmation

  1. Enhanced self-esteem and self-acceptance.
  2. Improved mental health and well-being.
  3. Stronger interpersonal relationships.

Therapeutic support

Neurodiversity-affirmative therapy provides a supportive environment where individuals can explore and affirm their self-identity. This approach helps individuals:

  1. Recognise and value their neurological traits.
  2. Develop a strong sense of self-worth.
  3. Proactively approach societal expectations and stereotypes.


What is neurodiversity-affirmative therapy?
Neurodiversity-affirmative therapy is an approach that respects and values neurological differences, aiming to support individuals in understanding and embracing their unique identities.
How does this therapy help with self-identity?
This therapy helps individuals explore and affirm their self-identity by recognising their unique traits and strengths, encouraging an affirming self-concept.
Who can benefit from this type of therapy?
Anyone who identifies as neurodiverse, including those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other neurological variations, can benefit from neurodiversity-affirmative therapy.


  1. Walker, N. (2014). Neurodiversity: Some basic terms & definitions. Neurocosmopolitanism.
  2. Singer, J. (1999). ‘Why can’t you be normal for once in your life?’: From a problem with no name to the emergence of a new category of difference. In M. Corker & S. French (Eds.), Disability Discourse. Open University Press.
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision