Leone Centre Glossary

Special Interests in Neurodiversity-affirmative Therapy

Special Interests

Special interests, often a core aspect of neurodiversity, play a significant role in therapy that acknowledges and celebrates neurodivergent individuals. Recognizing and incorporating these interests into therapeutic activities can enhance engagement and motivation, making the therapy process more enjoyable and effective. This approach not only validates the individual’s passions but also leverages them as strengths in their development and well-being.

Common concerns

However, many neurodivergent individuals face misunderstanding and marginalization of their special interests. For example:

Misunderstanding: Others may not appreciate these interests, leading to a lack of acknowledgement or support.
Marginalization: Neurodivergent individuals can be excluded or bullied because of their special interests.
Stigmatization: Some interests carry a stigma, causing feelings of shame or embarrassment.
Pressure to Conform There is often pressure to suppress these interests to fit in with societal norms.
Social and Professional Impact: These interests can affect social interactions and perceptions at work, sometimes leading to professional challenges.

By addressing these issues within a neurodiversity-affirmative framework, therapy can help mitigate the negative impacts and support individuals in embracing their unique interests with confidence.

About special interests

Special interests are intense, focused areas of interest that bring significant joy and satisfaction to neurodivergent individuals. These interests can range widely, from hobbies and academic subjects to more niche areas of fascination.

Therapeutic benefits

Integrating special interests into therapy can enhance the therapeutic process. It helps in building trust and rapport between the therapist and the client, making therapy sessions more engaging and impactful. Recognising these interests also validates the client’s experiences and identity, creating a more inclusive therapeutic environment.

Practical application

Therapists can incorporate special interests into sessions by using related activities, discussions, and examples. For instance, if a client has a keen interest in art, therapy could involve art-based projects or discussions about art to facilitate communication and expression.


What are special interests?
Special interests are highly focused passions that bring great joy and engagement to neurodivergent individuals, often serving as a source of comfort and stability.
How can special interests be used in therapy?
Special interests can be integrated into therapy by incorporating related activities, discussions, and projects, making the sessions more engaging and relevant to the client.
Why are special interests important in neurodiversity-affirmative therapy?
Recognising and incorporating special interests in therapy validates the client’s experiences and creates an inclusive environment, enhancing the impact of the therapeutic process.


  1. Understanding Special Interests
  2. How Special Interests Support Therapy
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision