This month Dean Close joined over 300 schools in celebrating neurodiversity week. To celebrate neurodiversity is to move beyond simply spreading awareness of neurological differences such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism, ADHD and synaesthesia. It goes beyond factoring such differences into how we teach and learn every day in our classrooms. It leads us further, to a juncture where we recognise the many strengths associated with neurodiversity and incorporate these assets into how we best teach and learn. These strengths include the hyper-focus and exceptional attention to detail associated with autism, as well as the creativity and lateral thinking associated with dyslexia – qualities needed to view and approach things in novel and inspiring ways.
During neurodiversity week we showcased 20 different individuals in the library, from Greta Thunberg to Richard Branson, from Will.i.am to Agatha Christie, and focused on the various ways in which these individuals are exceptional, not in spite of their neurological differences, but because of them. In particular we tried to emphasise how environmental factors are vital to how such inspiring individuals can turn what might be perceived as challenges into exceptional assets. Crucially, as Siena Castellon, the 16 year old who launched this international project writes, neurodiversity celebration week seeks to ensure: ‘that kids who think differently and perceive the world differently know that their future is bright and full of promise.’ Every day in Learning Support we see both the difficulties and strengths associated with learning differently. The positive response to this initiative from all around the school has been testament to the commitment we share to ensure Dean Close continues to foster an environment where our neurodiverse pupils flourish.