I'm Sandhya Menon.
I'm an Educational & Developmental Psychologist.
Best known for: An epic fidget collection
Less known for: Giving random dogs cuddles in cafes 🐶
I value the expertise of clients as the experts in their own life, and centre their values at any recommendations or support.
I focus on creating a safe space for the neurodivergent to be themselves, stimming, flapping, fidgeting and all.
Contributing to professional discourse is one of the things I love.
Modality of Practice:
Neuro-affirmative, trauma informed, gender diversity affirmative
Social Model of Disability (Medical Model where needed for reports)
CPS Model to Behaviours
Inspired by the works of Martin Seligman, Ross Greene, Stuart Shanker, Mona Delahooke as well as the stories of individual clients and those with lived experience.
About Neurodiversity Affirming Practice
We can support children, families and schools to understand and respect how the neurodivergent brain works.
The neurodivergent brain is part of the normal diversity in human brain styles. It is its own neurotype, with its own unique quirks, communication style, and way of doing and being in the world.
Understand the differences, respect how and what they communicate, and then support children to lean into and connect with their inner shine with supportive strategies for them and their environments.
"Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment?"
- Harvey Blume (1998)
Social skills taught are respectful of neurotype and of consent.
For years, we’ve phrased autism as having social deficits, an idea which exists in the DSM-V even today. There is emerging research that autistic individuals have their own valid social communication skills, and neurotypicals have their own valid social communication skills. Where communication tends to break down is when we communicate across neurotype.
Think of this as a cultural difference when trying to communicate (e.g. Japanese vs English people). We’re happy to support individuals with learning the second language of neurotypicals to help them navigate the world around them, but first and foremost, we do work in helping them understand their first language and natural communication styles.
We also check in whether learning the second language aligns to their individual goals. This helps build a child’s self-concept as not disordered or broken, but simply different.
We accommodate sensory needs.
We are respectful of each individual’s sensory processing needs and seek to accommodate individuals in the clinic. We have fluorescent light covers in our clinic rooms, have tools to meet movement needs and a variety of fidgets laid out in every session.
Whilst we endeavour to ask every new client if the environment is suitable (e.g if it’s too cold/hot, if the lights are still too bright etc), we also welcome both children and parents in self-advocating and let us know if there was something we could be doing differently to support your comfort in session.
We aim to meet your movement needs.
If their bodies are wiggling and they are finding it difficult to sit still, it is because their bodies are giving them the signal to do so!
We encourage a variety of seating options and are more than happy to do our session racing around the clinic, jumping on a trampoline or balancing on blocks.
It is only when our sensory systems are regulated that we are able to take in the information provided in a therapy session, so this forms an important part of our work with teaching children to meet bodily needs.
Variety of communication is valid.
Whilst Psychology is commonly known as talk therapy, we accept and encourage all the wonderful modes of communication available to us. Children are encouraged to talk, draw, type, use an iPad, sing, animate and act what they’d like to communicate.
Sometimes, children may come in shut down mode or not be ready to engage. We seek to create a safe space for children to come as they are, and can adapt sessions accordingly.
Your eyes can look where they need to.
Autistic individuals report that eye contact can feel physically painful, whilst others report that it stops information processing. In sessions at Onwards and Upwards Psychology, you may find that we’re okay with individuals not looking at us.
We know that they’re much more likely to think better when they’re looking away, and are happy for them to do so. We prefer that they listen to us, rather than look! We trust that they’ll accord eye contact if they like to do so, and respect bodily autonomy and choice in this matter.
You might have seen/heard/read about me here
Understanding Autism and ADHD Minds (2022)
The Immigrant's Journey to Identity (2023)