As with cultural diversity and non-traditional families, neurodiversity is another social justice issue that needs to be considered in family court cases. There have been recent positive developments in our field regarding neurodiversity in children, as exemplified by the increasing attention paid to the unique considerations of special needs children in families undergoing divorce and separation. Neurodiversity in parents also presents great challenges, in which either overt or implicit bias may impact judicial decision-making, such as when a divorcing parent has a significant psychiatric disorder or neurocognitive disability. The neurodiversity perspective, while having its limitations, can help reduce bias in family court by recognizing that there is a broad range of brain functioning, while taking a strengths-based approach, as opposed to a pathology orientation. This multidisciplinary panel will address specific issues that arise for family law professionals when working with neurodiverse children and parents, in an effort to reduce bias and automatic negative presumptions about parental competency.
- Participants will be able to describe the broad categories included in the concept of neurodiversity and explain why neurodiversity provides a paradigm shift in how we think about mental health issues and cognitive function.
- Participants will be able to list risk and protective factors to consider when developing parenting plans for special needs children, and discuss ways in which neurodiverse children’s voices can be heard in court processes.
- Participants will develop a greater awareness of their biases towards issues of neurodiversity and be able to implement such awareness to combat prejudice and presumptions in Family Law Court.