Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health

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Overlapping Spectrums: Gender diversity and Neurodiversity

Bruce Pipher, Noah Adams, Ashleigh Yule, Lorraine Grieves

Learning objectives:

  • To increase understanding of how gender and neurodiversity can overlap- brief, high level overview of stats and data related to overlapping spectrums
  • To overview practice frameworks- gender affirmative model, foundational concepts and increase understanding of overlapping spectrums and need to move care forward.
  • To increase comfort working on a care plan, supporting or providing assessment
  • To increase comfort taking a gender affirmative approach and removing barriers for those with overlapping spectrums
  • To build skills for having therapeutic engagement, building relationship and supporting those with overlapping spectrums

Session Description:

Current research and clinical practice have identified an emerging overlap of gender diversity with various neurodiversities. Clinicians in trans health are often tasked with supporting clients who identify as trans who may also be autistic, have ADHD, or experience intellectual, sensory, or social differences. This workshop will focus on assessment within these overlapping spectrums, provide support in clarifying social and medical transition needs for gender diverse and neurodiverse clients, review at a high level some recent research in this field, and provide participants with tools and frameworks for supporting trans neurodiverse clients with preparation for social and medical transition.

9:00am- 9:30pm: Introductions and overview of day (group)


  • Overview of Gender Affirmative Model- Lorraine and Noah (20 min)
  • 10:00am-10:20 Overview of Neurodiversity and Autism basics (20 min) – Noah and Ashleigh


10:35-11:35am PANEL DISCUSSION (60 min)

Small cohort of adults with overlapping diversities (facilitated by Ashleigh, Noah and Lorraine)

  • What do neuro diverse and gender diverse clients want service providers to know about how best to work with them?
  • Overview of social, basic support and medical transition needs?
  • Barriers faced by those with overlapping spectrums?
  • What can clinicians do to improve access and engagement?
  • What is the best care experience you’ve had?

11:35-12:15pm BREAK


11:20-12:30 Clinical application: So what does this mean for clinical interactions, medical interventions, care and assessment with adults?  Application of voice of lived experience into practice- introducing a tiered framework related to care and complexity- Lorraine and Ashleigh

  • Beginning to build a care plan- practice considerations for those with overlapping spectrums- Ashleigh Yule

12:30—1:30pm (LUNCH)

1:30pm-3:00- Practice scenarios and group work- Assessment and care planning for medical interventions cont’d (Ashleigh Yule)

3:00-3:20pm BREAK

3:20-4:30pm Care planning and assessment with children and youth with overlapping spectrums and higher complexities- taking a gender affirmative approach- Bruce Pipher

Practice Scenario- to synthesize ideas

4:30pm-5:00pm wrap-up, questions and answers


Speaker’s Bios:

Ashleigh Yule is a registered psychologist and doctoral candidate in school/applied child psychology. She specializes in child and adolescent mental health with a focus in transgender health. Ashleigh provides gender affirming counselling, assessment, and consultation services for gender creative and transgender children, adolescents, and their families. She works in private practice in Calgary and as a visiting professional in remote and rural areas of Alberta. She also has a 20-year background in autism assessment, treatment, and research. Her research interests include facilitating health and wellbeing for transgender children and youth, and her dissertation research focuses on the experiences and perspectives of transgender autistic adults.

Noah Adams is a registered Social Worker and PhD student in Adult Education and Community Development at the University of Toronto. He conducts research on transgender sucidality and the transgender healthcare experiences and strategies of autistic individuals. Noah is also a transgender and autistic person.

Dr. Bruce Pipher is an Assistant Clinical Professor with the University of British Columbia in the department of psychiatry and Clinical Director of the Interior Health Children’s Assessment Network.  He has been practicing and teaching in the field of developmental psychiatry for over 20 years working collaboratively on a number of mental health initiatives both provincially and nationally.  Dr. Pipher provides mental health services to transgender youth in the Interior of BC and working with Transcare BC on supporting the development and coordination of youth and family friendly services throughout the BC.

Lorraine Grieves is a registered clinical counsellor and active member of the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors. She has a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology and has been practicing as a helping professional since the early 1990’s in a diverse range of roles and programs.