This panel presentation examines why neurodiversity matters in terms of justice, equity, and inclusion in couples relationships. It will highlight tools from Relational Life Therapy (RLT) that can be used to support intimate connection and cherishing in neurodiverse relationships.
- Presentation Content:
- Examine the social and historical context for the concept of neurodiversity
- Identify and examine vulnerabilities, injustices, and inequities that neurodiverse people experience or are at risk of experiencing, particularly in relationships
- Demonstrate the applications of RLT with neurodiverse couples including slowing down the model; adjusting for diverse learning, sensory, social communication, emotional, and executive function needs; setting expectations; and creating the relational space for grief, repair, and cherishing
- Examine shame and family of origin issues in neurodiverse relationships through an RLT Lens
- Discuss similarities and differences in neurodiverse and neurotypical relationships through an RLT Lens
- Discuss how and why RLT is a model that is a particularly effective relational model with neurodiverse couples
Caron Starobin, LCSW-C, is a licensed clinical social worker providing individual, couples, family, and group therapy for neurodivergent and neurotypical people at her growing practice in Olney, Maryland. As a couples therapist and practitioner of Relational Life Therapy she loves the richness of the work she does with neurodiverse couples. It offers opportunities for couples to explore what is beyond ordinary in their relationships. Caron founded Parents Together, a parent support group program that offers parents opportunities to navigate the challenges and celebrate the victories of raising autistic people in community with others. Her team also offers Siblings Together, a support group for siblings of autistic people. Caron is certified in Relational Life Therapy (RLT) through the Relational Life Institute and studied in the Post-Graduate Study Program at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in D.C. She is also trained in the SPACE approach by Dr. Eli Lebowitz of the Yale Child Institute and is a certified PEERS® provider. As a professional member of the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) she is involved in an AFTA affiliated program called Witness To Witness, a program that helps people in high stress jobs who may experience moral distress or moral injury in their work with vulnerable populations.
Libby Sinback is a queer, polyamorous mom, the host of the podcast Making Polyamory Work and a coach for people who want extraordinary relationships while choosing to live and love outside the status quo. She works with individuals and couples, many of whom are non-monogamous, kinky, and neurodivergent, and supports them in creating a life that is full of love and that actually works for them. Libby is certified in Relational Life Therapy, is undergoing Healing Our Core Issues certification, and has trained with the Gottman Institute. In her role as mom, she has discovered that her two young kids are neurodivergent, which has led her on quite a journey in supporting them, but in also understanding herself and her family ecosystem. She is very much still on the journey! Libby believes love is why we're here, and how we heal.
Sarah Wayland, Ph.D. founded her company, Guiding Exceptional Parents, to support parents of neurodivergent children. She is a Special Needs Care Navigator, Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®) Consultant, and Parent Coach. She works with families in both group and individual settings to guide them with compassion through learning how to support their neurodivergent children and family members with research-based insights and strategies. Her online training program, The Behavior Revolution — created with Penny Williams, helps families understand, support, and encourage children with challenging behaviors. She is currently working on a book for clinicians with Dr. Donna Henderson, A Clinician’s Guide to Recognizing and Diagnosing “Subtle” Autism, due to be released in the fall of 2022.