What is Diversity Affirming Practice?

By Annette Thompson (Abilities Collective @ Curtin, Secretary)

Scrolling social media recently (face it, don’t we all?) I came across a light-hearted post about a parent who cut their junior’s sandwiches wrong, and I found myself reading the comments with more than a little disdain. So many judgemental pointers about pandering to whims, starting unhealthy habits, and “eat it or go hungry”. You get the idea; but what was clear to me is that this is the tip of a significant iceberg that neurodiverse people (and parents) know all too well.

Learning to tell the difference between something that is a choice or a habit and something that is a regulating behaviour or sensory need that forms part of an individuals’ safe boundaries is a key skill that we who are neurotypical have yet to perfect, and it quite often causes inconsistencies, conflict, and stress.

Recent research has shown that standard therapeutic practices that seek to mask and reduce neurodivergent traits are causing harm including stress, depression, poor self-worth, and lower participation in society (1).

As a parent to neurodiverse children, my standing decision in most situations is Pick Your Battles. Accept when it does not matter enough to be a problem and be gracious enough to recognise people as they are. Diversity affirming practice recognises and accepts the unique differences and strengths of individuals

Some tips for Diversity Affirming Practices are: (2) (3) (4)


  1. https://yourmindmatters.net.au/a-neurodiversity-affirming-approach-what-is-it-and-how-can-it-support-your-children/
  2. https://abilityactionaustralia.com.au/providing-a-space-for-neurodiversity-and-inclusion/
  3. https://therapyworks.com/blog/child-development/what-it-means-to-be-neurodiversity-affirming/
  4. https://www.inclusionwa.org.au/blog/inclusion-what-is-it-and-how-to-be-inclusive/

About Anni

Anni started at Curtin in 2007 and works within Curtin Information Management and Archives, predominantly supporting Privacy compliance and Freedom of Information.  Anni uses She/Her pronouns and is married with 4 biological and 3 stepchildren.  3 of Anni’s children have a neurodivergent diagnosis and Anni has spent the past 24 years advocating for and negotiating the disability space in education, employment and NDIS and allied health in order to support her family.  Anni is one of the founding members of the Abilities Collective.