“It’s going to make your life easier and you’re going to be a lot happier”: Success Stories From SEA Bridge Users

by Caroline Phillips on May 19, 2022

Letting go of ingrained concepts and teaching styles and transitioning to neurodiversity-affirming strategies can seem daunting. Where do you even start? It’s one thing to learn about new ideas or concepts as you are scrolling through your social media feeds, it’s a whole other thing to start implementing neurodiversity-affirming practices in your clinic or classroom.

The SEA Bridge curriculum was born from the statement “I support the ideas of neurodiversity but, I don’t know how I would put it into practice.” The SEA Bridge was designed to make your transition to being a neurodiversity-affirming educator or practitioner a whole lot easier.

But don’t just take our word for it. We recently had the opportunity to chat with several current SEA Bridge users about their experiences using the first neurodiversity-affirming social emotional curriculum, designed for use in clinical and educational settings. Read on to hear how the SEA Bridge is empowering them to put neurodiversity-affirming concepts into practice.

Making the switch to neurodiversity-affirming practices

Natasha K., a speech-language pathologist in Australia, was originally working for an organization that was using Social Thinking. “I thought, ‘oh this is very helpful, it’s a very structured practice,’ but I kept going back to my supervisor and being like, ‘this doesn’t seem to be working in that I’m teaching my clients something that’s never going to feel natural for them.” After learning about neurodiversity from advocates like Meg Proctor and Rachel Dorsey and listening to Autistic adults’ experiences, Natasha was determined to move away from deficit-based teaching strategies. This led her to start her own practice. A serendipitously timed post about the SEA Bridge brought together Natasha’s desire to authentically support her students and her ability to implement neurodiversity affirming practices.

After using the SEA Bridge with her students Natasha reports, “It feels better, it feels so much better than what I was doing a few years ago.”.

Supporting students in understanding their needs and affirming their identities

Kelly B., a speech therapist in Virginia, is using the SEA Bridge in individual sessions with her students and has seen tremendous gains with her students since adopting the SEA Bridge. “Just being able to see the kids discover who they are and figuring out where I can help them. . .there have been a lot of ‘ah-ha’ moments.”

One piece of feedback that we hear often is how much the students relate to the characters in the curriculum. Hillary C. in California commented “with all the Sprites, they automatically connect the characters to themselves. It’s been a great avenue for them to identify their needs and preferences.” The Insight Sprites were developed with careful intentionality to allow students a safe space to validate and understand their needs and find pride in neurodivergence. For many students this is the first time they have ever seen a neurodivergent character like themselves represented in media.

Student success with the SEA Bridge is evident in many ways, both big and small. Recently, Kelly B. shared an example of a “breakthrough” moment with one of her students.  Kelly and her student were working through a SEA Bridge workshop on understanding feelings. This workshop introduces learners to creative ways to make sense of feelings beyond just emotion words (which tend to be inaccessible for learners with alexithymia).  Kelly shared, “she is nonspeaking, and I don’t know if anyone has ever talked to her about the different way you can feel things. She doesn’t really initiate communication with me, ever—and she pointed to that picture on the screen [of the feelings chart], and she tapped it and then she pointed to my printer. She wanted me to print out that chart for her…I’ve been working with her a long time and that was the first time she initiated any communication with me.”

Supporting families in adopting a neurodiversity mindset

Getting family buy-in can also be hurdle when transitioning to neurodiversity-affirming strategies in your clinic or classroom.  The SEA Bridge includes caregiver handouts with each workshop that help break down the topics and provide additional activities to continue learning these concepts at home. “Those family handouts, I just think they’re gold,” Natasha commented. “I think a lot of time, even parents who are quite understanding and accepting of their children still feel a lot of pressure of ‘oh we need to fix this, or oh we need to change this’ but through this program [the SEA Bridge], you’re saying that it’s okay and your [child] is perfect the way that [they are].”

An occupational therapist user also shared that, “the parent education forms are SO helpful in communicating neurodiversity affirming approaches to caregivers.”

The caregiver handouts are a tool to help families understand why and how to support their child in neurodiversity affirming ways. It’s exciting to see that families have been eager to adopt strategies and concepts from the SEA Bridge. Natasha remarked, “[The] mum and dad got on the phone with me last week and they literally said, ‘We’re all learning so much from what you guys are doing…it’s given us all a way to talk to each other and communicate with each other.’”

The SEA Bridge helps build bridges of understanding between children and those around them, which in turn strengthens relationships between children and their caregivers. Another family of Natasha’s is implementing SEA Bridge concepts to support the whole family in responding to their needs. Natasha describes a conversation with a parent after working through a lesson on spoon theory, “Her [the student’s] mother, who is Autistic, said to me, ‘That’s the most helpful thing that I’ve ever learned.’ Their whole family has taken on the idea of the spoons and monitoring their spoons.”

“It’s going to make your life easier”

While making the transition to using neurodiversity-affirming strategies in your classroom or practice can feel like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. With 40 pre-planned workshops, engaging activities for students, and resources for families, the SEA Bridge makes authentically supporting your students easier than ever.

When asked what she wanted to share with other speech-language pathologists about the SEA Bridge and making the switch, Natasha responded with:

“I would want speechies to know is that it’s there and that it is an option, and that it’s not going to make your life harder to use this program, it’s actually going to make your life easier and you’re going to be a lot happier.”

Join the Bridges community and be the next one to say:

“I love SEA Bridge! I’m constantly recommending it to my SLP colleagues.”

“It’s very powerful…having something pre-made and easy to use has been a game changer.”

“I’m really loving this program and really look forward to continuing to use it with my clients!”

“As autistic clinicians we love having this resource.”

“SEA Bridge has been such an amazing resource this year…I can’t imagine not continuing with the program next year!”

“I’m autistic and I am so happy that affirming programs like this exist. I feel that every child, neurodivergent or allistic, would benefit from learning these concepts.”

Still on the fence? Try a free demo of the SEA Bridge, no credit card required, and see for yourself! Plus, get in on our summer sale on yearly subscriptions now until the end of May. Buy a yearly subscription and get two and half months free.

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