Susan Zola Neurodiversity

​Phone: 631.332.2213
Email: Suezola@me.com

Neurodiversity

What is Neurodiversity? 

Neurodiversity is a concept that recognizes and respects neurological differences in individuals. It suggests that neurological differences, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, and others, are natural variations of the human brain rather than disorders or deficits. The neurodiversity paradigm asserts that these differences should be recognized and accepted as a normal part of human diversity, similar to variations in personality, culture, or physical traits. Advocates of neurodiversity argue for societal accommodations and support systems that embrace the strengths and unique perspectives of neurodiverse individuals rather than trying to normalize or "cure" them. In essence, neurodiversity promotes the idea that neurodiverse individuals have valuable contributions to make to society and that their differences should be celebrated rather than stigmatized or pathologized.




What does it mean to be “neurodiverse”? 

Being "neurodiverse" refers to having a neurological difference or variation that diverges from what is considered typical or neurotypical. Neurodiverse individuals may have conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, dyspraxia, and others. These conditions can manifest in various ways and may affect an individual's cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning.

Being neurodiverse does not imply that an individual is inherently impaired or deficient. Instead, it acknowledges that their brain functions differently from the majority of the population. Neurodiverse individuals often have unique strengths, talents, and perspectives that can be valuable in different contexts.

The concept of neurodiversity emphasizes acceptance, understanding, and accommodation for the diverse ways in which people's brains work. It challenges the idea that there is a single "normal" or "ideal" way of thinking and behaving and promotes the idea that differences should be respected and valued in society.

Navigating relationships can be complex, especially for neurodivergent individuals or couples with varying neurological profiles. If you're facing challenges, I offer support to help you find clarity and enhance the joy and fulfillment in your relationship, intimacy, and sexual experiences. Together, we can work towards making your connections as enjoyable, wonderful, and pleasurable as possible.



Candice Christiansen Founder, Clinical Director M.Ed., LCMHC, CSAT-S, CMAT-S, Certified EMDR Therapist, IFS Level 1  - 
Namasté Center for Healing

Candice Christiansen, LCMHC is an Autism Expert who provides Clinical Consultation, Training and Design Strategies to Medical and Mental Health Providers, Corporate Offices, Universities, and Organizations using a Neuro-Inclusive Approach. She is also well known for designing Neuro-Sensitive Settings that Support Autistic Adults in healing from trauma.







Neuro-Inclusive IFS and Support - Developed by Candice Christiansen and Meg Martinez-Dettamanti

What is Neuro-Inclusive IFS?


“Meg Martinez-Dettamanti, LCMHC and I, Candice Christiansen, LCMHC have developed a Neuro-Inclusive Approach to IFS. This was inspired by my and other Autistic, ADD, ADHD (and similar neurotypes) adults continued experiences with well-meaning IFS therapists who were causing unintentional harm to Neuro-different clients based on assumptions, implicit and explicit biases, and their own legacy burdens. Both Meg and I LOVE the IFS model and are dedicated to ensuring that clients seeking healing from trauma and a variety of sexual and relationship issues feel supported in the way that our brains and Autonomic Nervous Systems (ANS) need.


A Neuro-Inclusive Approach to IFS offers four goals for therapists who work with Neurodifferent individuals by inviting therapists to: 1) Use curiosity with Neurodifferent clients around their sensory, learning, and internal system needs; 2) Access Self energy to navigate a client’s need for safety if microaggressions occur; 3) Explore therapist’s individual, legacy, and cultural burdens related to implicit bias, judgment, and stereotypes against Neurodifferent individuals; 4) Creatively implement IFS mapping exercises with Neurodifferent clients to flesh out Neurodifferent traits vs. client parts.”



 NEURO-INCLUSIVE APPROACH TO IFS CAN BE FOUND IN THE BOOK ALTOGETHER US, HERE.

“In 2023, Candice Christiansen co-authored a chapter introducing her Neuro-Inclusive Approach to IFS in the Amazon best seller Altogether Us! 

The importance of the “setting” is often discussed as an integral part in entheogenic (e.g., psychedelic assisted) therapy. However, for Autistic adults, it is rare that therapists and medical providers take into consideration their office settings to ensure that from the outset, their client feels safe, comfortable, and sensory soothed. Many Autistic adults have had negative experiences with providers  as a result of implicit biases, assumptions about what Autism looks like,  and microaggressions. In their chapter, Candice and her colleague Meg Martinez-Dettamanti, LCMHC discuss the importance of creating safety via tending to Autistic and Neurodifferent adults neuro-sensory needs at the beginning of therapy and throughout each session. This helps build a trusting relationship with the therapist or medical provider and allows clients to connect to the deeper IFS work.”








Link to Candice Chrsitiansen’s Podcast: https://autismandintimacypodcast.com/


Who is Candice? 

"I am Candice Christiansen (she/her, they/them pronouns) and I am the Founder of Namasté Center For Healing. I am Autistic, ADHD, have  social and general anxiety, and dyspraxia. I am German, English, Scottish, Dutch and Lakota (by bond).  was diagnosed as being socially anxious/general anxiety in my teens, misdiagnosed as borderline personality disorder, dependent personality disorder for decades by mental health and medical professionals who were not properly trained to look for Autism and ADHD in females. One therapist told me I wasn’t Autistic and she knew that because years ago she evaluated Autistic boys…(Huh?!)

I was finally accurately diagnosed as Autistic nearly 5 years ago. As of 2022, I am self diagnosed ADHD. I do not believe my genetic brain differences are caused by trauma-this, in my opinion is a reductionist approach that doesn’t take into consideration the wealth of research that describes the complex and heterogeneous array of developmental, genomic, neurobiological, and cognitive differences of neurodifferences. However, I do believe that trauma is a significant part of many Neurodifferent individuals’ lived experiences among a neuromajoriy that is not neuro-inclusive or neuro-sensitive.
Coming out as Neurodifferent and exploring how they show up in my life has been a fascinating experience, but also a life safer, at times frustrating when the neuro-majority judges or shames me for being me. However, overall I continue to learn about myself and am connecting with other neurodifferent individuals globally who have been a huge support to me on my journey. I aim here to inspire you, advocate for you and support you in your neurodifferent journey as well! We all deserve to be seen, so #ISEEYOU, #IVALIDATEYOU, #IACCEPTYOU.


I am here to support you in understanding your Neurodifferent brain.


All parts (“software”) of you are welcome here and your “hardware”-brain differences-are welcome here too!"


NEURODIVERGENCE IS MISUNDERSTOOD… MY STORY


"Neurodivergence or as I call it, Neurodifference is a misunderstood term, especially when it comes to Autistic adults. Why? Because we learn to MASK our symptoms-this means we learn to hide who we are authentically thinking we will fit in better if we do. It is exhausting, trust me!

As an Autistic woman, I am very well-spoken (a mask I have worn)-trust me, I had great teachers! As a result, I was misdiagnosed for over 2 decades by well-intentioned therapists who had a belief that one symptom could determine Autism. Because I learned to hide (mask) my autistic traits as a youth, I learned to give eye contact and pretend like I was more “social” even though both make me want to rip my hair out due to the emotional and physical discomfort I experience. Loved ones didn’t see my struggle with hygiene-everyone just assumed I knew how to brush my teeth, etc. as a kid-no need to teach me (?!), and my “rigidity” when there is change-that is autonomic nervous system dysregulation from environmental stress- or my anxious “melt downs”-which are due to external stressors in the environment, not because “I am Autistic.” I have been labeled, judged, pushed into boxes of diagnoses, and dismissed, ignored, and rejected because I am Autistic. Sure I struggle to understand sarcasm and jokes but I didn’t deserve to be the recipient of bullying or all the teasing from my family for being “too sensitive.” My somatic and affective empathy towards others is a gift and quite common among Autistic/ADHD humans-although non-neurodifferent humans won’t admit that because they typically recognize empathy as only being cognitive or responsive empathy.

I loved to play as a child with my siblings. I loved playing pretend and make believe. At times I was admittedly aggressive with them and took things personally (now I know my sensitivity to rejection is a real thing-RSD-Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria). I was always super sensitive to the energy in the environment, peoples feelings and was always afraid of being rejected or judged. I loved stacking my barbies and stuffed animals in a row as a child. This was how I played. I was viewed as having my silly “obsession” with girl toys-which when I looked back I think “who cared?” But that is now viewed by society as “abnormal” via play-(but really, is there a way to play that IS “normal”?)

I do well if I have one or two friends and if I have freedom to choose my relationships; but society judges this as me struggling to form or maintain friendships. Instead of being noticed for having a brilliant autistic mind that helped me create my successful programs, websites, curriculum, workbook, etc., I have been juddged by colleagues as being “handed things on a silver platter” or being “too pretty” —whatever any of this means. No one knew for years the inner pain and confusion I experienced at feeling like a major misfit; socially uncomfortable in my own existence for being me. Sadly, the average person or professional who cannot identify the unique forms of autistic expression misunderstands so many of us who have become excellent at masking our autistic traits. Along with this, many people assume that if a person is autistic, we must be asexual and lack empathy. "




CANDICE CHRISTIANSEN Contact Information:

4064 South Highland Drive Millcreek UT 84124
P: 801-272-3500 F: 801-272-3355
Clinical Office Hours
M-F 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. MDT
Note: Telehealth Groups may be later in the evening (e.g., 7:30 p.m. MDT)
Front Office Hours: 
9 a.m.- 4 p.m. MDT, M-F

Website Links: 

  1. Autism consulting /coaching: CandiceChristiansen.com
  2. Neuro-Inclusive Mental Health Clinic (trauma and sexual recovery for ND adults, couples): Namasteadvice.com 

    Disclaimer: Information on this website page "Neurodiversity" is provided by Candice Christiansen and her websites CandiceChristiansen.com and Namasteadvice.com


How can neurodivergence affect sex addiction?
Neurodivergence can potentially impact sex addiction in several ways:
  • Sensory Sensitivities: Many neurodivergent individuals have heightened sensory sensitivities, which can affect their experiences with sexual stimuli. This sensitivity may lead to either seeking out or avoiding certain sexual activities as a way to regulate sensory input.
  • Impulsivity and Hyperfocus: Conditions such as ADHD can be associated with impulsivity and hyperfocus, which may contribute to engaging in risky sexual behaviors or excessive sexual activity without fully considering the consequences.
  • Social Challenges: Neurodivergent individuals may face difficulties in forming and maintaining intimate relationships due to challenges in social communication and understanding social cues. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which may contribute to seeking out sexual encounters as a form of validation or connection.
  • Difficulty Regulating Emotions: Some neurodivergent individuals struggle with regulating their emotions, which can lead to using sex as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges.
  • Repetitive Behaviors: Repetitive or ritualistic behaviors are common in neurodivergent individuals, and these behaviors may extend to sexual activities, leading to compulsive or addictive patterns of behavior.
It's important to note that not all neurodivergent individuals will experience sex addiction, and there is significant individual variation in how neurodivergence may intersect with sexual behavior. However, understanding these potential connections can be helpful in providing tailored support and interventions for individuals struggling with sex addiction within neurodivergent populations.



Many neurodivergent adults find joy and fulfillment in connection, contact, and communication. Despite facing unique challenges in navigating social interactions, they often form deep and meaningful relationships that bring them comfort and support. Whether through shared interests, mutual understanding, or supportive communities, neurodivergent adults cherish the connections they build with others. These relationships provide opportunities for growth, empathy, and companionship, highlighting the diverse ways in which individuals experience and appreciate human connection.

Other Resources:

Websites:  
  1. Neuro-Inclusive IFS - developed by Candice Christiansen and Meg Martinez-Detamanti  
  2. TheArticlulateAutistic.com, Jaime A. Heidel
  3. ADHDGirls.Co.UK, Samantha Hiew, Ph.D.
  4. Autistamatic.com, Quinn Dexter
  5. PlanetNeurodivergent.com
  6. Socialautie.com, Carole Jean Whittington
  7. MindYourAutisticBrain.com; developed by Carole Jean Whittington, expert in burnout prevention and recovery
  8. Theara.com, online training, courses, coaching for Neurodivergence developed by Renee Rosales
  9. Neuro Diversity Hub 
  10. Neurodivergent Insights 
  11. The Center for Connection 
  12. Neurodiversity Week 
  13. Exceptional Individuals - Neurodiversity
  14. Autism Level Up 
  15. Sensory Health 
Books:
  1. Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn't Designed for You
  2. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
  3. Altogether Us: Integrating the IFS Model with Key Modalities, Communities, and Trends
  4. Dyslexia and Me: How to Survive and Thrive If You're Neurodivergent
  5. Neuroqueer: The Writings of Nick Walker
  6. Camouflage: The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women
  7. Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking
  8. We're Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation
  9. Thinking in Pictures: And Other Reports from My Life with Autism
  10. Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
  11. How the Mind Changed: A Human History of Our Evolving Brain
  12. May Tomorrow Be Awake: On Poetry, Autism, and Our Neurodiverse Future
  13. Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines sucks : how to live, learn, and thrive outside the lines
  14. Stumbling Through Space and Time: Living Life with Dyspraxia
  15. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's
  16. A Thousand Ways to Pay Attention: A Memoir of Coming Home to My Neurodivergent Mind
  17. We're Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation
  18. Is This Autism?
  19. Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity
  20. Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD
  21. ADHD 2.0: New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction--from Childhood through Adulthood
  22. Self-Care for People with ADHD: 100+ Ways to Recharge, De-Stress, and Prioritize You!
  23. Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder
  24. Differently Wired
  25. Different Not Less
  26. Connections of Compliance: Rewiring Our Perceptions of Discipline
  27. Wonderfully Wired Brains

Podcasts:
  1. Fabulously Candice - "Fabulously Candice" is the sexiest podcast about Neurodivergence! Candice is an Autistic, ADHD woman, licensed clinician, and relationship/intimacy expert with a passion for discussing love, sex, intimacy and more among neurodivergent adults. Get ready to feel fabulous as you listen to the Fabulously Candice podcast.
  2. Sex 101 Podcast - Navigating Intimacy & Sex with Neurodivergence - Are you neurodivergent and struggling to navigate sexuality and intimacy? Or perhaps you have a neurodivergent child or friend and want some additional support? Or maybe you simply are interested in autism? Today’s episode is literally for everyone….the gems shared today will help ALL couples better navigate sex and sexuality! Join Dr. Stormy and Autism and Intimacy Expert Candice Christiansen and her husband Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner Chris Kishiyama as we talk about neurodivergence, sex and intimacy! During their 10 years together, they have had a lot of wild adventures, including Candice being diagnosed as autistic nearly 4 years ago as an adult woman. Candice’s diagnosis was a game-changer in their relationship, particularly as it relates to how they communicate and their sexual intimacy. 
  3. Sex Help with Carol the Coach Podcast with Guest Dr. Candice Christiansen, founder and clinical director for the Namaste Center for Healing. - Carol the Coach will be interviewing expert Candice Christiansen who will help us understand how people on the Autism Spectrum may suffer with intimacy disorders and self-stimulation issues leading to problematic sexual behavior.  
  4. Sex, Love, Addiction Podcast with Dr. Robert Weiss and Guest Dr. Candice Christiansen, founder and clinical director for the Namaste Center for Healing. - She and Rob discuss some of the co-occurring diagnoses that sometimes underlie addiction, and the fact that it’s not unusual for people with sexual problems to also have an emotional and mental disorder. They give a few examples of these conditions, define some characteristics of people on the spectrum, and talk about the importance of getting a professional evaluation to make sure one is getting the proper treatment. 
  5. The Neurodiversity Podcast - The Neurodiversity Podcast talks with leaders in the fields of psychology, education, and beyond, about positively impacting neurodivergent people. Our goal is to reframe differences that were once considered disabilities or disorders, promote awareness of this unique population, and improve the lives of neurodivergent and high-ability people. 
  6. Beyond Six Seconds Podcast - First impressions can take only 6 seconds to make! But if you’re neurodivergent, those quick judgments about you can be misleading. That’s where the Beyond 6 Seconds podcast comes in! Join me, Carolyn Kiel, as I talk with neurodivergent entrepreneurs, creators, advocates & more about their lives and identities. Their stories shatter misconceptions, break stigma and showcase the vibrance of neurodiversity. https://www.beyond6seconds.com/
  7. Differently Brained Podcast - Differently Brained is an own voices podcast where each fortnight we interview a guest to have open and honest conversations about their experiences We champion neurodivergent and mental health awareness and acceptance by encouraging people tell their own stories to champion the different ways we all exist in the world. We're here to break down those stigmas and misconceptions around neurodivergence and mental health, and normalise these conversations in our community. 
  8. Neurodivergent Moments Podcast - Ever walk into a room and immediately forget why you’re there? Or get confused when someone is surprised you’ve taken what they said literally? Comedians, Abigoliah Schamaun and Joe Wells do, and so do their guests, and these Neurodivergent Moments shine a light into the world of our diverse minds. Each episode, ADHD Abigoliah and Autistic Joe, speak to a guest with a neurodivergence about their divergence, life, career and how they navigate the neurotypical society we live in. Lighthearted, sincere and insightful, Neurodivegent Moments is a journey into the diverse world of our differently wired brains and the people who own them. ADHD, Autism, OCD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Borderline Personality Disorder and more are all topics of conversation. 


Susan Zola Replace Sticking Thinking

Susan Zola, LCSW, CCPS, CSAT
631-332-2213
suezola@me.com
Licensed In: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, South Carolina Out-of-State Independent Social Worker Telehealth Provider, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia

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