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Neurodiversity for Understanding Autism: A Paradigm for Social Change & Supporting Clients

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Judy Singer, DPhil |  Varleisha Lyons, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, ASDCS
54 Minutes
Feb 23, 2022
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Digital Recording
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Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist who coined the term “neurodiversity”, shares her personal connection to autism as well as her work, which was based on her lived experience in the middle of three generations of women “somewhere on the autistic spectrum”,  in this interview-style session. She’ll explain:

  • The concept of neurodiversity, the development of a neurodiversity movement, and its achievements in the social justice arena
  • How she fits into the neurodiverse tapestry
  • Ways you can look through the neurodiversity lens in support of your clients on the spectrum

Judy is joined by Dr. Gibbs, a steadfast occupational therapist, author and presenter.


** No CPD Credit Available
Continuing Professional Development credit is not available on this product.


Judy Singer, DPhil's Profile

Judy Singer, DPhil Related seminars and products

Judy Singer, DPhil, is an Australian sociologist who coined the term “Neurodiversity” in a 1998 Honours Thesis at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Her work was based on her lived experience in the middle of three generations of women “somewhere on the autistic spectrum” and built on the achievements of the Disability Rights Movement and its academic arm, Disability Studies.

Judy intended the term Neurodiversity as a potential name for an umbrella movement of people with a variety of neurological conditions, e.g., Autism, ADHD, the “Dys”-abilities and others. The Neurodiversity Movement has made great gains in arguing for a strength-based re-evaluation of formerly negative medical diagnoses, and in working towards greater community awareness and inclusion for all.

Judy has been active in community organizing since the 1990s, both in the local Sydney region and internationally via social media, with a focus on public housing advocacy and disability rights. Judy was the secretary of Sydney’s major parent’s group, the Inner West Autism and Asperger’s Support Group.. When her daughter outgrew this group, Judy moved on to co-found ASteen, Sydney’s only independent social club for teenagers on the spectrum.

Varleisha Lyons, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, ASDCS's Profile

Varleisha Lyons, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, ASDCS Related seminars and products

Varleisha D. Lyons (formerly Gibbs), PhD, OTD, OTR/L, ASDCS, is an occupational therapist and author with over 20 years of experience working with children and adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, sensory processing disorders and neurological disorders. She developed and founded Delaware’s first occupational therapy program and became the first black indigenous American woman to serve as the Scientific Programs Officer at the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Currently, she is the Vice President of Diversity Equity Inclusion Justice Access and Belonging at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Varleisha continues to lecture and provides training on sensory processing strategies and self-regulation to practitioners, parents, and teachers throughout the country and internationally. As co-author of Raising Kids with Sensory Processing Disorders, she has provided families with strategies to understand and care for their children. Dr. Lyons is the developer of the Self-Regulation and Mindfulness program and author of the best-selling book, Self-Regulation and Mindfulness: Exercises and Worksheets for Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (PESI Publishing & Media). She is the co-author of Trauma Treatment in ACTION: Over 85 Activities to Move Clients Toward Healing, Growth and Improved Functioning (PESI Publishing & Media). Her areas of expertise include neuroanatomy, self-regulation strategies across the lifespan, health inequities, and trauma responsive approaches.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this presentation belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author's employer, organization, committee or other group or individual. Varleisha D. Lyons PhD, OTR/L is employed by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). This work is independent of her role and not affiliated with AOTA, Inc.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Varleisha Lyons has employment relationships with the American Occupational Therapy Association and VDTG, Inc. She receives royalties as a published author. Dr. Lyons receives a speaking honorarium, recording and book royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Varleisha Lyons is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and the National Black Occupational Therapy Caucus. She serves on the advisory board of George Washington University Programs in Occupational Therapy and is a board member of the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action.

Target Audience

  • Addiction Counselors
  • Counselors
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physicians
  • Psychologists
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Social Workers
  • Teachers/School-Based Personnel
  • Other Mental Health Professionals


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