The Transformative Power of Connections and Belonging on Mental Health: A Neurodivergent Perspective

Dec 12, 2023 | Blog, Guest Blog

Guest Blog by Michelle Ridsdale – Founder of Kaboose 

In a world grappling with loneliness, one in four feels the weight of isolation. Modern life is becoming increasingly more complex.

The economic cost of autism globally is a staggering 1 trillion US dollars annually, while in Australia alone, it amounts to 7.2 billion dollars.

Heartbreakingly, youth suicide is the number one cause of death for children under 17, with autistic children being three times more at risk.

The significance of connections and a sense of belonging cannot be overstated. From a neurodivergent perspective, these factors hold a unique importance, contributing significantly to positive mental health outcomes. As we continue to understand more about neurodiversity, it is evident that forging meaningful connections and finding a place where one truly belongs can have a transformative effect on mental wellbeing.

Neurodiversity embraces the idea that neurological differences, such as those present in individuals with autism, ADHD, or other cognitive variations, often means that connections and belonging take on a heightened significance. For many neurodivergent individuals, the journey towards self-acceptance and understanding is often facilitated by finding like-minded individuals who share similar interests and experiences. This shared understanding creates a powerful foundation for connection, cultivating a sense of belonging that can positively impact mental health.

Autistic people often mask to fit in with society norms, but when we find a space where we can express ourselves authentically without fear of judgement, letting down the guard, this is where we see true connection and belonging. This freedom fosters self-esteem and self-worth, vital components of positive mental health. When we can be ourselves and still feel accepted, the burden of masking or suppressing our true selves is lifted, leading to decreased anxiety and improved overall wellbeing.

The connections formed within neurodivergent communities provide more than just a sense of belonging; they offer an invaluable support system. In a world that may often misunderstand or overlook their unique needs, having a network of individuals who truly “get it” can be a lifeline.

Whether through shared coping strategies, empathetic listening, or collaborative problem-solving, these connections provide practical tools to navigate challenges that can otherwise feel overwhelming.

Likewise, being able to engage in meaningful conversations and experiences within a community that understands and values individual differences can help regulate stress and anxiety, ultimately leads to enhanced mental wellbeing.

So really, the importance of connections and belonging for neurodivergent individuals cannot be overstated. As we recognise and celebrate the rich tapestry of human neurodiversity, fostering inclusive communities becomes a cornerstone of promoting positive mental health outcomes. When we find their tribe, a profound transformation occurs – a transformation that empowers us to embrace our true self, diminishes the weight of societal expectations, and provides an unwavering support system.

By prioritising connections and belonging, society takes a significant step towards creating a world where every individual, regardless of their neurological makeup, can thrive emotionally and mentally.

As the former CEO of Autism Community Network, Steve Drakoulis reminds us, autistics crave social interaction but face poor mental health due to isolation.

Let’s unite, end loneliness, and build a more inclusive and compassionate world for all.


Michelle is the visionary force behind Kaboose, an innovative app designed to foster a sense of community for autistic individuals and those embracing neurodiversity. Drawing from her own personal journey and lived experiences, Michelle is a dedicated advocate and volunteer within the autistic community. Witnessing her own son grapple with isolation and disconnection, she was inspired to create a platform that addresses these challenges head-on.

Michelle’s commitment goes beyond the creation of an app; it’s a testament to her unwavering determination to bridge the gaps within the neurodiverse community. Through Kaboose, she seeks to build bridges of understanding, companionship, and inclusivity.