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Neurodiversity Affirming Coaching

Apr 18, 2023

children who may have learning problems

A neurodiversity affirming coach accepts and acknowledges the differences between the way people think, feel, behave, and relate with the world and others around them. The coach uses a variety of teaching approaches to help athletes understand their lessons. This skill is becoming more important than ever.

Already, it is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of the world’s population exhibits some form of neurodivergence. Its prevalence is driven by genetic and environmental factors that are pervasive in modern society. Neurodivergent individuals possess conditions such as autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and dyslexia.

Because neurodiversity is actually common, it’s important for coaches to affirm the different kinds of athletes that he might encounter. A neurodivergent athlete can’t improve or reach his peak performance if the coach doubts or harbors misgivings about him. Nor can coaches teach to the best of their abilities if they misunderstand their athletes.

How can a coach be neurodiversity affirming?

Educate the Team
The majority of people aren’t neurodivergent and are unaware that there are differences that they should take into account. Whether they’re the coaching staff or other athletes, they need to become aware of neurodivergent individuals and the proper way to treat them. 

Build a Welcome Atmosphere
Make the environment welcoming and supportive. Formulate policies that help ensure that the training, learning, and games are psychologically and emotionally safe. Their conditions must not be used to bully or abuse people with conditions. 

Prepare to Adapt Coaching Styles
Thankfully, neurodivergent coaching is relatively easy. Outside the traditional classroom, there’s more freedom and diversity in teaching approaches. Coaches naturally use multiple methods to teach foundational and advanced sports skills. Even then, it’s beneficial to personalize the style to the needs of the individual  

To prepare the sports organization for neurodivergent athletes, it’s a good idea to hold a workshop with a sports consultant who understand naeurodiversity. It would be a great venue to educate the organization and prepare the necessary plans to welcome and adapt neurodivergent athletes.