MacMillan's 10-Step Neurodiverse Family Systems Approach:

A Comprehensive Framework

to support neurodivergents and their families throughout adulthood.

Anne MacMillan, MLA

Author of the 10-Step Neurodiverse Family Systems Approach, Consultant, Coach, Educator and Expert Witness

About Anne

I grew up in a neurodiverse family knowing nothing about Level 1 autism or attention neurodivergence (ADHD). Then, unbeknownst to myself, I married a Level 1 autistic man. That means I have a lifetime of experience with Level 1 autism, attention neurodivergence and close family relationships as well as over two decades of experience with Level 1 autism in marriage.

I was so confused about what had occurred in my family of origin that I studied developmental psychology as a young undergrad. After having children, I completed a research-based master's degree in clinical psychology at Harvard University. It was during my graduate studies that I finally realized that my husband was autistic.

From there, I did some of the world's first quantitative research on Level 1 autism and intimate life partnerships. Then, in 2017, opened a private coaching and consulting practice attempting to see if there was anything I might be able to do to actually help this underserved and under-recognized population.

All this work and life experience has enabled me to finally offer a foundational 10-Step Neurodiverse Family Systems Approach to help professionals across the world understand how to serve all members of neurodiverse families.

I take some of my own clients, too. Please reach out if you're interested!

I self-identify as a high body empathetic neurodivergent who just might also be a bit attention neurodivergent (ADHD). I am not autistic.

Our Services

Level 1 autism has a significant impact on dating, marriage, parenting, separation and divorce. Yet many individuals in neurodiverse intimate life partnerships (or life partnerships between autistics and non-autistics) had no idea that one partner was on the spectrum before tying the knot. Professionals, confused by the autism and Neurodiverse Relationship Dynamics (NRD) have offered misdiagnoses and poor advice, adding to the burden Level 1 autistics and their family members have faced.

Likewise, Level 1 autistic adults have little career support, facing the work world with little to no recognition that their autism affects their professional relationships.

R.E.A.L. Neurodiverse seeks to provide services that support these unmet needs.

Level 1 Autistics and their Families

Professionals support level 1 autistic children through school, but once adulthood rolls along, almost no services are available. Until recently, a majority of level 1 autistic adults were completely unaware that they had autism. As more and more adult diagnoses take place, level 1 autistic adults and their families are still left without appropriate support.

Level 1 has a significant impact on dating, marriage, parenting, separation and divorce. Yet many individuals in neurodiverse marriages (or marriages between autistics and non-autistics) had no idea that one partner was on the spectrum before tying the knot. Professionals, confused by the autism and they dynamics of neurodiverse communication, have offered misdiagnoses and poor advice, adding to the burden level 1 autistics and their family members have faced.

Some of today's most successful tech entrepreneurs have level 1 autism, creating a new world in which autistic innovation has an impact on everyone's daily lives. Yet level 1 autistic executives still struggle with the social difficulties associated with their neurologies, sometimes facing career and family roadblocks that impede the successes they desire.

REAL Neurodiverse seeks to provide services that support these unmet needs.

Anne MacMillan, MLA

Author of the 10-Step Neurodiverse Family Systems Approach, Consultant, Coach, Educator and Expert Witness

Recent Blog Posts

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Discovering the Spectrum: My Enlightening Experience at the World Autism Summit

October 01, 20232 min read

Discovering the Spectrum: My Enlightening Experience at the World Autism Summit

Introduction:

Life has a way of opening our eyes to new perspectives, especially when we least expect it. My recent participation in the inaugural World Autism Summit by Autism Today was one such enlightening experience.

I've recently become more vocal about my personal connection to autism – being part of a family that manages Level 1 Autism and even marrying someone with the same diagnosis. This is the autism I know and the one I speak about. But, until the summit, I hadn't as fully considered the way the broader spectrum of experiences and challenges faced by families dealing with various levels of autism should be affecting my public communications..

From Familiar Territory to Uncharted Waters

Imagine stepping into a room, thinking you have a broad grasp on a topic, only to discover vast facets you've yet to explore. This was my profound realization as I sat on a discussion panel alongside families managing Level 3 Autism.

Meeting Frank Farmer, who has a Level 3 autistic child, was a revelation. The way he presented his child's ability to communicate using a board was heartwarming and eye-opening. I was deeply moved when I delved into the thoughts and feelings expressed on their blog, wordsyouneverheardmesay.com. It underscored the fact that equating service levels with intelligence is a gross misjudgment.

A Two-Way Learning Street

While I imparted insights about the unique challenges faced by Level 1 families, I was equally eager to soak in the experiences shared by others. For instance, Dr. Cepero's insights on ensuring care for Level 3 autistic children after the parents are gone was both enlightening and heart-wrenching.

There was a profound moment of connection when Frank Farmer and I tried to envision life from each other's shoes. Both of us realized the vast, yet intertwined, challenges each end of the spectrum faces.

The Need for Continuous Dialogue

One of the primary takeaways from the summit was the realization of how our words and actions might be perceived by others on the spectrum. While our experiences differ, the goal remains unified – to create a more inclusive and understanding world for everyone touched by autism.

In my journey with NeurodiverseMarriage.com and RealNeurodiverse.com, I've aimed to be a beacon of hope and information. But this summit reminded me that it's essential to keep expanding my horizon, to include and learn from every part of the spectrum.

Looking Ahead with Hope

In closing, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Autism Today, especially Karen Simmons, Kathy, Jalal, and their entire team, for initiating this global dialogue. The World Autism Summit wasn't just an event; it was a stepping stone towards building bridges across the spectrum.

To all the families out there managing any level of autism, I salute your resilience and hope to continue this journey of mutual discovery and support alongside you.

Level 1 AutismAutism SpectrumLevel 3 AutismAutism Discussion PanelAutism UnderstandingneurodiversityAutism Today SummitAutism ExperiencesAutistic CommunicationAutism FamiliesAutism Services NeedsAutism DiagnosisNeurotypical PerspectiveAutism ConversationsAutism Awareness
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Anne MacMillan, MLA

Anne MacMillan is the founder of REAL Neurodiverse Marriage. She has 21 years of experience with autism and marriage, a lifetime of experience with autism and close family relationships and has been coaching and consulting individuals managing autism and marriage since 2017. She has a master's in psychology from Harvard University where she did some of the world's first quantitative research on autism and marriage. She is neurotypical.

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