Jasmine is a multiply neurodivergent licensed psychologist working from her psychology practice in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to providing professional supervision to students and other professionals, she works with clients across the neurodiverse spectrum in the context of both psychotherapy and assessment. Working with neurodivergent clients and culturally and linguistically diverse clients are her main areas of professional interest. Outside of work, her special interests include restoring old furniture and doing pyrography on wood in her woman cave. Jasmine’s author website is located at www.jasmine-loo.com and her psychologist website at www.jasmineloopsychology.com.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
Truth be told, I wasn’t planning on writing a book. It’s one of those situations where one thing led to another. Nurturing Neurodivergence is birthed from the group therapy program I wrote for late-identified neurodivergent adults. Running my own psychology practice takes up a lot of time and energy, so although clients and new enquirers to the service kept asking if I was ever going to run any group (therapy) programs, I could only explain that sadly, I didn’t have the time to write one. But last year, a student had asked if I could postpone my annual leave to help them extend their placement to finish it in time for registration, and I said yes. Anticipating some downtime (since I refuse to take on and see new clients for 2 or 3 sessions before going away for quite some time), I thought I’d write a group program.
Since I was always complaining about how most of the existing neuroaffirming psychology resources are for children, so the Lost Generation (of late-identified adults) would have to continue to be “lost,” I wanted to be the change I wanted to see. So, I decided to write a program specially for late-identified adults. The response and feedback for the group were overwhelmingly moving for me, and so, you could say it was the group participants who made me think of publishing it. I’d (naively) thought, “Why not let more people access it, if people are finding it so helpful? How hard could it be to just upload it?” Of course, in the span of the following 6 months, I learned about the 110 additional things involved in publishing a book.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
Before becoming a licensed psychologist, I was a registered early childhood teacher. Something that most people wouldn’t know about me is that being neurodivergent myself, asking for help and actually finding support for myself don’t come easily, so I have taught myself how to do a range of things over the years, even though I’ve never worked professionally in any of those areas—anything from regrouting an entire bathroom, to cutting hair (mainly my own but also others who had asked me), from renovating my sensory-friendly practice/office on my own, to, well, now publishing a book. Being neurodivergent isn’t exactly a walk in the park, and there are so many things that I’ve yet learnt or mastered, but I’m also grateful for my belief that if I needed something that I don’t know how to access, then the obvious answer for me is to learn, because it gives me hope that I can cope with challenges in life.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
You would think that this should be the one thing that should have been easy (or at least I did) since I didn’t need to learn about Photoshop or SEO to do it, but I’ve always been terrible at coming up with names for things. Even my private practice’s name—it was named after me only because I didn’t know what to name it. But I think my final decision on the book title (and subtitle) encapsulated what the book is about well.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
Despite my hyper-independence, mostly I did initially try to find the right professionals, but this was a perfect example of how I ended up learning a variety of random skills. I’d never done any serious art or published my artwork before this. At first, I was excited to be working with some professional cover designers but was later disappointed to come to the conclusion that it was not going to work. And that morning I thought, “Maybe I’m not articulate enough to write a design pitch that truly communicates my vision. I could try whipping one up to show the next cover designer I find an example of what I’m envisioning.” Forty hours later, I was certain I didn’t need to find another cover designer. The first time I held the proof copy of my book in my hands, they were shaking. Even with the wonky parts that I had to fix, I thought it looked more perfect than I ever imagined. At the same time, I’d felt this tiny, weird sense of grief—I wished my younger self could have had a book like this.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
Self-compassion. If even one person could read this and go away feeling they have better capacity to be self-compassionate, these 800 hours would have been worth it, and would have been the most rewarding part of publishing my book. No matter how harsh the world may be to us neurodivergents, I think there’s hardly anyone who’s harsher toward us than ourselves, generally. The notion of a “perfect reader” never crossed my mind.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.