Nurture Integrative Health

I am not an autistic human, but I am a neurodivergent human.  

Dr. Nick Walker answers this question best, “Neurodivergent means having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of ‘normal.” As a neurodiversity advocate, I promote support systems that allow neuro-divergent people to live their lives as they are. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I provide patients with treatments and resources to optimize their unique brain function. As a neurodivergent human… I get it. Life outside of societal systems based on ‘normal’ is challenging.

At age twelve, I was diagnosed with a language-based learning disability. I had difficulty with reading comprehension, finding ways to express myself verbally and through writing, pronouncing multiple syllable words, difficulty following oral instruction, and word retrieval challenges. At this point, I was only reading at a 3rd or 4th-grade level, making it impossible to keep up with the advanced subject matter covered in the standard 6th-grade curriculum. I started failing classes and hid my exam grades out of shame. I worked as hard as I could, but each task, test, and homework assignment was a challenge. The teacher asking a question provoked anxiety and more shame. It became apparent to everyone that I could not ‘try harder’ or ‘will’ my way through this. I needed specific and supportive help understanding my particular learning challenges and, most important, tools to navigate the educational system. Finally, my parents found a life-saving academic tutor who taught me skills to maneuver my challenges and how my unique brain worked… differently.

When I entered Medical School, I passed into a new layer of my neurodivergence unfolding. I discovered that I still struggled with language-based learning each time I learned a new medical word. I would laugh with my friends, but running into this challenge still gave me anxiety. Medical student life’s rigorous demands impacted my executive function levels, making simple life skills like doing dishes near impossible.

Some aspects of these challenges were so similar to my childhood experience I recognized them quickly. I didn’t have to struggle this time because I had the tools and knowledge I needed to guide myself to succeed in my own unique and neurodivergent way.

When I was a child, the idea of learning differently than the school curriculum was labeled deficient. Educators and Doctors saw neuro differences as something that needed ‘to be fixed.’ Now, thanks to the Neurodivergence Movement, the focus is moving away from that antiquated thinking.

My work aims to help people understand what neurodiversity is and that everyone has an aspect of uniqueness to their brain and nervous system. Whether you were born with ND or acquired ND by traumatic brain injury, medication reactions, or aging, you are more likely to be neurodivergent if you have a learning disability, mental or neurological disorder. You may benefit from informed support in building a map for your world.

So, I leave you with what I’ve learned as a Neurodiverent Human,

“It is vital to your brain health to learn to ask for support, help, and time. And it’s okay to take space when you need it.” ~ Dr. Kirstin Wilson, ND ATC 

In honor of National Autism Month, learn more about the overlap between neurodivergence, brain injuries, and brain health. 

To learn more about me, my practice, and my approach to caring for your unique brain, contact us.

Helpful Online Resources:

PMID: 31049988, 29970331, 28074078

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