Different is the new normal

SCHOOLS across Liverpool have been saluting the differences that bring us all together as part of the city’s first ever Neurodiversity Celebration Week.

From Monday 13 May students and pupils across the city have been taking part in a host of special events designed to raise awareness about conditions such as Autism, Dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The young people will be taking part in specially-themed assemblies, meeting and speaking with neurodiverse young people and their parents and carers and providing facts and dispelling myths about the conditions.

The week-long celebration was created by 16 year-old neurodiversity champion Siena Castellon and is being supported by the national ADHD Foundation.

According to the Department for Education, 15 per cent of students in the United Kingdom have a learning difference, potentially one in five of the whole population. The campaign will acknowledge and celebrate the many positive aspects of being neurodiverse. It is about recognising strengths, creativity, innovation, and the ability to think differently to find unique solutions for the challenges that face today’s society.

The campaign, which is supported by the Department for Education, CEOs of national charities and leaders in industry, asks schools to pledge to celebrate difference and highlight the intelligence, success and employability of all those school children with special education needs. It urges students to recognise their colleagues as ‘the dreamers, the pioneers, and the trailblazers of tomorrow.’

Nationally more than 300 schools are taking part in the celebration week, with 38 of these being Liverpool schools.

Cllr Pam Thomas, who is Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for an Inclusive and Accessible City, said: “We need to appreciate that human beings are diverse. It’s a bit too easy sometimes to only think of people who are like ‘me’.

“We often put labels on people and identify them as having a problem when we should not be doing that. People have different characteristics, attributes and features and that’s a positive thing. We are all human beings and we need to celebrate that.”

Charlotte Dowson, who is a Year 11 student at Archbishop Blanch Church of England High School in Wavertree, and is taking part in the celebrations, said: “I think that celebrating something as complex as neurodiversity is an incredible thing. We will be putting up posters, talking about the benefits of being neurodiverse and passing on the message to other students through special assemblies. Not everyone is the same, if we were life would be very boring. Difference is a strength and nurturing it is something that should be encouraged.”

For more information about national Neurodiversity Celebration Week, visit: www.neurodiversity-celebration-week.com