Umbrella US

You can Open Doors for ND Belonging with us in a variety of ways.

Beyond Me, Myself, and I: Why Reciprocity is Key to Neurodivergent Self-Advocacy

Have you ever read a self-advocacy guide and felt something missing? Perhaps it’s the sense of shared journey. While advocating for oneself as a neurodivergent individual is crucial, it’s not a solitary path. It’s more like a collaborative dance between individuals and the communities they inhabit.


Self-advocacy is about achieving accessibility, but true accessibility requires connection. Recognizing that everyone’s well-being, including neurodivergent individuals, is vital to a community’s health fosters a supportive ecosystem where everyone has the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. So, why is appreciating this interconnectedness crucial for neurodivergent self-advocacy guides?


1. Cultivating Shared Understanding: Framing self-advocacy solely as the responsibility of neurodivergent individuals risks amplifying the misconception that their unique experiences require individual solutions. This can further isolate and marginalize them. Instead, recognizing that everyone’s well-being, including neurodivergent individuals, is interconnected cultivates a collaborative effort towards inclusivity.


2. Fostering collective progress: Effective self-advocacy goes beyond individual needs; it seeks systemic change. By sharing their experiences and advocating for broader understanding, neurodivergent individuals become powerful agents of progress. This collective effort paves the way for a more inclusive and equitable world for everyone, not just neurodivergent communities.


3. Celebrating diversity as strength: Neurodivergent communities bring unique perspectives, strengths, and talents to the table. Highlighting these contributions helps break down stereotypes and build appreciation for neurodiversity as a source of enrichment for society.


How can we translate this understanding into practical action? According to Google Gemini, we should:


  • Showcase collaborative solutions: Share stories of successful partnerships between neurodivergent individuals and their communities, demonstrating the power of working together.

  • Provide tools for connection: Offer resources and strategies for building bridges and engaging with allies, fostering understanding and support.

  • Celebrate shared successes: Highlighting how both neurodivergent individuals and their communities benefit from inclusionary practices encourages further collaboration.

Remember, self-advocacy isn’t just about individual accommodation; it’s about building a world where all individuals and communities thrive together. By understanding our interconnectedness and working collaboratively, we can create a more inclusive future where everyone can contribute their unique strengths.


Umbrella US is inviting NDs and allies to share in the creation of The Neurodivergents’ Self Advocacy Survival Guide and we intend to do more than the suggested actions above. We also want to include:


  1. Personal Narratives
    Personal stories from neurodivergent self-advocates who have overcome challenges, broken down barriers, and achieved their goals through self-advocacy.

  2. Practical Strategies
    Practical advice, tools, and techniques to enhance self-advocacy skills in a variety of contexts including work, education, relationships, and community participation.

  3. Inclusive Perspectives
    Our #1 priority is to highlight people from marginalized* and multiply marginalized backgrounds and ensure that a wide variety of ND—not only autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, but also OCD, bipolar, stroke, TBI, cerebral palsy, PTSD/C-PTSD and any other condition or difference that affects the brain and nervous system—experiences are represented and valued.

  4. Expert, Professional, & Provider Insights
    Expert contributions in the fields of healthcare, education, employment, social justice, and advocacy, offering neuro-affirming, evidence-based strategies. Allied experts are encouraged to apply; ND Experts are prioritized.

  5. Practical Application
    Empowering exercises and activities designed to help identify strengths, clarify goals, and develop effective self-advocacy plans.

  6. Resources and References
    Resources, websites, and further reading materials to support NDs in various contexts of self-advocacy.

Umbrella US welcomes submission proposals from neurodivergent adults and allies who want to share their perspectives on the ND experience. Submissions can include a wide variety of printable formats, to include written essays, poems, song lyrics, drawings/images (black and white or color), or similar.


Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):
● Discovery and/or Diagnosis
● Variety of age experiences
● Work, Volunteering, Employment
● Education (various levels including certifications)
● Health & Healthcare
● Community Experiences
● Relationships in all contexts (adult, familial, work, romantic, sexual,
friends, parenting, etc)
● Creativity

Proposals due: March 15, 2024

For full information on The Neurodivergents’ Self Advocacy Survival Guide, click here or email us at info@umbrellaus.org.