We all have different ways of seeing the world and thinking about it – not just because of differences in our cultures or life experiences, but also because of how our brains are ‘wired’. Neurodiversity is the concept that neurological differences should be both recognised and respected, in the same way as any other human variation.
A few key terms:
Neurodiversity the diversity of minds – promotes accepting, respecting and celebrating differences
Neurotypical the majority within the group
Neurodivergent those falling outside the majority
Some of us might be seen as neurodivergent because our brains function, learn and process information differently to the way that society generally expect. It is estimated that up to one in five people can be classified as neurodivergent.
Types of neurodivergence:
Some children and young people will continue to benefit from formal assessment and diagnosis. However, for many, focussing on understanding, acceptance and providing the right support will be much more meaningful. Generally, when a young person/family come for an assessment, they are seeking ways to understand and help themselves/their child rather than a diagnosis. Diagnostic services generally involve a long wait and are often assessment only. Not all children or young people who are referred for an assessment will go on to receive a diagnosis, but they are likely to still have needs that will benefit from support.
Diagnostic terms like ‘autism’ will continue to have their place but it will often be more appropriate and helpful to think about the children or young people concerned as unique individuals with their own sets of strengths and challenges/vulnerabilities and who may just ‘think differently’ to others. We need to be willing to change the way we think about and understand neurodiversity to ensure the right understanding and support is available.
We know that it is possible to provide good support for every neurodivergent child, but in order to achieve this we need to radically change our approach. That is why we have set up the East Berkshire Neurodiversity Network, so that we can help each other to think differently about thinking differently.
The East Berkshire Neurodiversity Network brings together people from across East Berkshire to change how we think about and understand neurodiversity and to explore how we can best support neurodivergent children and young people in a positive way.
The network is open to anyone with an interest in neurodiversity (be it as parent/carer, person with lived experience, professional or volunteer). To join you just need to be aged 18 or older and want to improve the understanding of neurodiversity and the support for neurodivergent children and young people. This is your network – it’s yours to participate in and to shape.
At the centre of our neurodiversity network is a group of experienced, knowledgeable and committed individuals who work in health, care or education. As well as facilitating network meetings, this core group will also be listening and learning, responding to your ideas and feedback and sharing them beyond the network to drive change across organisations.
Together as a network we will seek to:
As a member you will be able to:
We will hold virtual, 90-minute meetings once every three months. Everyone will be welcome, but don’t worry if you can’t attend every meeting – after each one a concise written summary will be sent to all the network’s members.
Each network meeting will follow this standard format:
Session 1 – July 7th 2021 – 1:00pm – 2:30pm:
‘Introduction to Neurodiversity’: Dr Tony Lloyd – CEO of ADHD Foundation
‘Introduction to neurodiversity in education’: Colin Foley – National Training Director of ADHD Foundation
& Special Guest Marcus Wilton (aged 14)
Session 2 – September 29th 2021 – 1:00pm – 2:30pm:
‘The recovery curriculum: from reconnection to resilience’: Professor Barry Carpenter & guest panellists
Session 3 – January 19th 2022 – Time and topic to be confirmed:
Session 4 – March 23rd 2022 – 1:00pm – 2:30pm:
‘Identifying children of concern to and taking a multidisciplinary approach to early intervention’: Professor Amanda Kirby
Session 5 – May 18th 2022 – Time to be confirmed:
‘Early years, early intervention & supporting parents’: Emma Weaver – Director of Early Years Services, Lisa Rudge – Parent Services Manager & guest panellists TBC
Session 6 – June 29th 2022 – Time to be confirmed:
‘Multidisciplinary working: designing and delivering effective services – Next Steps for East Berkshire Neurodiversity Network’ *Speakers TBA
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