Neurodiversity and Inclusivity Community of Practice

Posted on: 24 February 2022 by Laura Blundell in Conference & Event Reports

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(Liverpool Learning Summit 2022 - Equality, Diversity and Inclusion)

We were delighted to be joined by Karen Welton (Plymouth College of Art) and Jennie Dettmer (University of Bedfordshire) who founded the Neurodiversity and Inclusivity Community of Practice (CoP).

Neurodiversity and Inclusivity Community of Practice (CoP)

We started off the session by choosing from a list of definitions the one which we understood to best fit the term neurodiversity.  The definition below is what everyone in the group selected, and it really did provide the underpinning for the rest of the session.

 "The diversity or variation of cognitive functioning in humans."

The CoP held its first meeting in June 2021 and has had over a hundred attendees at the meetings, which take place every two months.  The motivations for starting the CoP really are to bring about change.  Both Karen and Jennie expressed how they wanted to create something that would go beyond research into neurodiversity and look at actual practical application.

Neurodiversity acknowledges everyone is different. Neurodivergent - Brain functions, learns and processes information differently than those classified as Neurotypical. Neurotypical - Those who are NOT classified as Neurodivergent.

The aims of the group are:

  • Act as a forum for regular discussions around neurodiversity and inclusivity between different institutions.
  • Encourage the sharing of ideas between LD professionals and other professionals involved in teaching and learning.
  • Disseminate information concerning good practice, and how this could best be implemented, to benefit the wider community.
  • Provide an opportunity for networking between those with specific shared interests (e.g. dyslexia, autism, attention deficit disorder, assistive technology etc).
  • Discuss published research papers to enhance knowledge and understanding.

Karen and Jennie also shared what they had learnt so far since the creation of the CoP.  They highlighted a disparity in training for neurodiversity across different institutions, and the need for universal training for all student facing staff to ensure knowledge of inclusive teaching practices.

They also highlighted the importance of involving neurodiverse people in these conversations and processes in order to collaborate and co-create with people with lived experiences.  Another lesson learnt is just how contentious a term neurodiversity is, and following on from this how important individuality is.

One of the really positive impacts that the group is already having is creating a safe and informative space to discuss neurodiversity, which in turn has led members of the group to personally disclose their own experiences, and then given them the confidence to go and have the conversations about what works for them with their own institutions. 

We ended the session with an opportunity to create and share some Haiku poems themed on exploring our own understandings and experiences.

With trepidation,
she describes her suffering
to those who will hear.

Disclosure was key,
it changed his experience,
now and forever.

Wow, my mind buzzed, wow.
Colours, images, ideas, wow.
I am me, so what!

Neurodiverse and
vibrant, learning how to learn
sharing how to think.

If you would like to become a member of the Neurodiversity and Inclusivity Community of Practice please fill in this Expression of interest form.