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

man and woman holding hands in field

What is a Neurodiverse Adult Relationship?

July 14, 20232 min read

Often neither partner knew about the autism when the relationship began.

What is neurodiverse marriage?

A neurodiverse intimate adult relationship is a relationship between a person with high-functioning autism and a typically developing, or “neurotypical,” person. Neurotypical people are people who don’t have autism or another developmental disorder. In a nutshell, high-functioning autism is autism (or ASD) without cognitive or language impairment.

Many people with high-functioning autism will marry and have successful careers.

Chances are that some of the high-level employees in your workplace have high-functioning autism. They can be doctors, surgeons, data analysts, financial analysts, IT professionals, programmers, physicists… you name it. Those who are able to find employment within their niche interests are often able to contribute unique skills to the workforce. And not all people with high-functioning autism in the workforce are in exceptionally high-level jobs. In most cases, their colleagues will not be aware that they have ASD. Your colleague in the next cubical could have ASD and you wouldn’t necessarily know it.

Autism has a genetic component and sometimes people with high-functioning autism aren’t themselves aware that they might be on the spectrum until a family member, usually a child, is diagnosed. In some families, one parent and one or more children have ASD.

High-functioning autism is easier to recognize in children than adults and until the last twenty years or so, most children with high-functioning autism went without the advantage of a diagnosis. These children used their intellect and their resourcefulness to develop compensatory strategies on their own. By the time they reached adulthood, those strategies masked the most obvious signs of ASD.

Often, neither they nor their current intimate partners knew about the autism when their intimate relationships began.

Intimate adult relationships between typically developing adults and adults on the autism spectrum are mixed relationships because the partners are neurologically dissimilar in a manner that affects their communication and social interactions. Intimate adult relationships are commonly accepted as the most important relationships of one’s lifetime and successful communication and social enjoyment are critical to adults’ satisfaction within them.

Currently partners in neurodiverse relationships have few resources to help them navigate their differing communication styles. There is more acknowledgment that neurodiverse relationships exist now than there was just a few years ago, but the professional world is still scrambling to figure out how to support individuals managing them.

Most of us have heard of mixed-orientation relationships and mixed-faith relationships and the difficulties that arise between partners who navigate these differences. It is less common to consider the friction that may occur when the incompatibility between partners is neurological.

My programs provide information, strategies, resources and support for typically developing members of mixed-neurological relationships and their partners.

blog author image

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.

Back to Blog

© 2024 REAL Neurodiverse
All Rights Reserved

anne@neurodiversemarriage.com

Text or Call: (617) 996-7239 (United States)