Neurodivergent Treatment for Teens and Young Adults
How is neurodivergence diagnosed?
Diagnosing neurodivergent conditions involves a comprehensive assessment by a qualified healthcare professional or a multidisciplinary team. They gather collateral information from caregivers and teachers as well as medical and developmental history using questionnaires and established diagnostic criteria. Feedback and discussion follow the diagnosis, with a focus on interventions and support. The process can be lengthy, requiring sensitivity and respect for the person’s needs.
Neurodivergent-affirming DBT skills
Neurodivergent-affirming dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) integrates principles of neurodiversity into DBT. It respects the unique traits and sensitivities of neurodivergent people, providing tailored methods for mindfulness, managing emotions, relating to others, and handling distress—the core components of DBT. These skills prioritize flexibility, teamwork, and validation to create a more inclusive and effective therapeutic experience for neurodivergent people.
Positive reinforcement-based CBT
Positive reinforcement-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) uses rewards to encourage positive changes in thoughts and behaviors. It’s especially helpful for people with neurodivergent conditions, aiding them in developing adaptive skills and managing challenges. It covers skill development, behavior change, emotional control, social skills, anxiety, self-esteem, motivation, and daily life skills.
Art and music therapy
Art and music therapy can be highly beneficial for neurodivergent people, offering unique ways to express, communicate, and manage emotions. These therapies aid in non-verbal communication, emotional control, sensory integration, focus, social interaction, anxiety reduction, and positive expression. When facilitated by specialists who understand neurodivergent needs, art and music therapy can create a safe and supportive space for creative self-expression and growth.
In their words
Client & family testimonials
“My mom said, ‘We have our Maddy back’.”
Charlie Health was very helpful for me. I was able to come off a lot of my medications that were causing my mental health crisis. My mood improved so drastically that my mom said, “We have our Maddy back.” I learned so many self-care skills that I didn’t even know before. My mom even learned a lot more about how I communicate and what I need. I have been able to communicate better with my medical team because Charlie Health has helped me be more open with them. I have been able to advocate for my needs better. For example, the care provider for my braces knows that I am more comfortable seeing him in my home and when I need to go into his office he schedules it at the end of the day so I do not get over stimulated. He allows enough time for my care in my home or in the office.
“I had never met other people like me.”
Before Charlie Health, I had never met other people like me. Going through the program with people I could relate to for the first time in my life…it made me feel seen. My group validated my experience in a big way. The connection to a community and having the means to do that via Charlie Health- that’s meant everything to me in terms of my mental health journey
“Charlie Health helped me feel again.”
I was numb to all emotions for nearly a decade, but Charlie Health helped me feel again. I learned that it’s okay to feel differently than what society might think.
How does Charlie Health take a specialized approach to treating neurodivergent people?
At Charlie Health, we believe that neurodivergence should be affirmed and supported, not treated or resolved. That’s why we’re proud to offer a neurodivergent-affirming clinical curriculum to neurodivergent young people who wish to attend treatment with peers facing similar challenges.
By embracing neurodiversity, we foster an environment that values the unique perspectives and strengths of neurodivergent people.
Recognizing and celebrating neurodivergence helps us move away from pathologizing differences and towards a more inclusive, equitable, and compassionate therapeutic environment where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
What are the challenges of treating neurodivergence?
- Individual variability: Neurodivergence encompasses a wide range of conditions, including autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and more. Each condition has its own characteristics and challenges, making it difficult to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.
- Co-occurring conditions: Many neurodivergent people experience co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, which require additional attention and treatment.
- Limited research: While research on neurodivergence has grown, there is still much to learn about these conditions. Limited research can constrain the development of evidence-based treatments.
- Lack of awareness and training: Healthcare professionals, educators, and society at large may lack awareness and training in understanding and supporting neurodivergent people.
FAQs on neurodivergence
What is neurodivergence?
Neurodivergence is an umbrella concept encompassing people whose neurological functioning diverges from what is considered neurotypical, including those with conditions such as autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and more. Neurodivergence can manifest in various ways, including differences in sensory perception, social interaction, communication, and cognitive processing. Importantly, the neurodiversity movement promotes the idea that these differences are not weaknesses; they add to the richness of human diversity. Embracing neurodiversity means creating an inclusive society that respects and supports these differences, letting neurodivergent people participate fully without discrimination.
Why are group connections important?
Neurodivergent people often experience loneliness and isolation as they struggle to fit into environments designed mostly by and for neurotypical people. Connecting to other neurodivergent people with shared identities and lived experiences in group sessions makes healing more effective. Emerging research shows that autistic peer-to-peer information transfer, for instance, is highly effective and that autistic people may indeed be better understood by each other than by their neurotypical counterparts. Group connections give neurodiverse clients that chance to feel a sense of belonging and understanding.
How can virtual care be especially helpful?
Access to quality support for many conditions under the neurodivergent umbrella is often limited to early and middle childhood. Support for adolescents and young adults can be limited in urban areas and nonexistent in rural areas. Virtual care changes this, offering a treatment option for older clients. Also, virtual care offers neurodivergent clients the chance to access care from sensory safe spaces in the comfort of their homes, which removes barriers some neurodivergent clients face in traditional brick-and-mortar treatment settings
Neurodivergent treatment at Charlie Health
If you or a loved one are struggling to manage a neurodivergent condition, Charlie Health is here to help.
Our virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offers more than once-weekly therapy for young people with complex mental health needs and their families—including neurodiverse clients.
Charlie Health’s expert clinicians use evidence-based therapies in group sessions, individual therapy, and family therapy to ensure holistic, long-term healing. Managing a neurodivergent condition can be challenging, but remember: you are not alone, help is available. Fill out our short form to get started today.