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The differences between neurodiversity affirming behaviour support and behaviourism

Neurodiversity affirming behaviour support and behaviourism are two very different approaches to supporting distress behaviours. Whilst both approaches aim to address and support distress behaviours, they have different philosophical foundations and strategies.


  1. Behaviourism or ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis)

Behaviourism or ABA is a psychological approach that focuses on observable behaviours and their environmental causes. It emphasises the role of external stimuli and consequences in shaping and modifying behaviour. It relies heavily on reinforcement, punishment, and shaping "ideal" behaviour through repeated conditioning. This means, that the "desired" behaviour is learnt through rote, and not innately.


In the context of treating challenging behaviours, it typically involves identifying the triggers and consequences of the behaviour and implements strategies to modify or eliminate it entirely. This often involves using reward and punishment to reinforce "desired" behaviours or discourage "unwanted" behaviours.


2. Neurodiversity affirming behaviour support


Neurodiversity-affirming behaviour support is an approach that recognises ad respects inherent neurological differences among individuals. It acknowledges that neurodivergent individuals, such as autistic, ADHD, dyslexic, have diverse ways of perceiving, experiencing, and interacting with the world.


The neurodiversity approach focuses on understanding and accommodating individual differences rather than trying to eliminate or normalise them. It aims to promote self-advocacy, acceptance, and inclusion into society. The focus is on supporting individuals in developing coping strategies, emotional regulation skills and communication techniques that work for them.


Rather than solely focusing on modifying behaviours that are considered "undesirable" and a choice by the individual, neurodiversity affirming behaviour support often involves creating environments that are more accommodating and inclusive, adapting communication styles, and fostering understanding and acceptance of neurodivergent traits. Putting less emphasis on the neurodivergent person needing to change themselves, and more on making the environment more manageable.


At Perfectly Imperfect - we practice within the neurodiversity affirming paradigm, and are anti-behaviourism.



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