3 Oct 2023

By Sylvia Clare

Books Review: Neurodiversity (Autism, ADHD) and Mindfulness Practice

This may apply to you or to someone you know, or it may apply to someone in the sangha who you have yet to meet. Are you prepared to support them and make them feel welcome.

Book One: ‘Autism and Buddhist Practice: How Buddhism Can Help Autistic Adults Cultivate Wellbeingby Chris Jarrell

When asked to review a book about the practice and neurodiversity, this time very specifically autism, I was keen to support. I have ADHD and PTSD complex trauma myself, and I wanted to see how it might help me further my own understanding. I found Mindfulness and Buddhism met my needs completely on paper many years ago now, but getting involved with a Buddhist community was a minefield for me. I know now that others have found this to be true for them also. This book enables you to feel part of a smallish community for whom this is the case, that you are not alone. Having your way of being in life validated for once is amazingly healing. Being understood, being able to express who you truly are without fear of rejection, judgment, misperception and instead to find acceptance, validation and inclusion is a rare experience for many neurodiverse individuals, and after a lifetime of all the negative experiences there is a huge need for that emotional and spiritual healing which the Dharma specifically offers us. This collection of personal accounts, so wonderfully collated and edited by Chris should encourage anyone to take that first step and give it a go. When I did this same thing nearly thirty years ago it changed my life around completely and I no longer accepted the patronising judgments,
rejections and hostilities as being my fault and so ‘I deserved them’. No one does. This book should be read by everyone who knows or works with or has an autistic diagnosis. Sangha leaders need to be aware of the accidental damage they can do to vulnerable people who are genuine seekers of this wonderful teaching. I shall put it on my recommended reading list for people who come to my courses of mindfulness for neurodiversity.

Book Two: Living With and Loving ADHD and Neurodiversity by Sylvia Clare and David Hughes
In our own book about my experiences of ADHD, and of David living with me- we took it as a conversation about the adjustments, challenges, and changes we made, all based on the dharma, which we live with wholeheartedly every single day, learning as we go. Many of the points above are covered in our book too, including a rejection of the medical model of neurodiversity and instead a celebration of difference, the social model, where our skills and attributes are viewed as positives, even in the practice.

Sylvia and David also run a specialist zoom sangha for people with PTSD and ND and run Be Calm Be Happy courses for support different approaches to learning the practice.

Sylvia has also recently given a talk at our monthly Morning of Mindfulness. Please see a video below to learn more about Mindfulness and Neurodiversity.

Sylvia Clare, mindfulness teacher, poet and author of many books and memoirs on emotional and spiritual development, specifically Living With and Loving ADHD and Neurodiversity, written with her partner David Hughes.