Researchers and Students on Neurodiversity (ReaSoN) is being established in 2021 as on of several “special interest research groups” funded by Emerging Minds, a research network focussing on supporting young people’s mental health.
The aim is to establish a national network in the UK of people who are neurodiverse, have a neurodevelopmental diagnosis like Autism or ADHD, and charities and academics (researchers, teachers and scientists) who are interested in neurodiversity and neurodevelopment.
We are aware that the term “neurodiversity” can have very specific meanings for some groups. We are using the term in a broad and inclusive manner to mean anyone who has a clinical or medical diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder, or people without a diagnosis but who self-identify as autistic or ADHD or as being somewhere else on the neurodiverse spectrum. We chose this term because it captures our values: we believe everyone should be equally listened to and respected regardless of their spot on the neurodiversity spectrum. People without neurodevelopmental conditions who are interested in this group might be considered “neurotypical” in comparison.
The focus of the network is on experiences of students and staff in higher education, specifically understanding how universities can or do support neurodiverse students with their studies and their mental health.
The network will have two main ongoing activities in 2021:
- Monthly online meetings (beginning March 2021) to build relationships and networks, and to discuss relevant topics. For example, this might be discussing a blog written by an autistic student, or talking about the concept of ‘neurodiversity’. We are not 100% sure what these meeting topics will be, as we would like members of the network to suggest areas that are important and interesting to them. Our topic for our first meeting will centre around a blog.
- A series of small focus groups to understand research needs and priorities on the topic of neurodiversity and mental health in higher education. These groups will have up to four neurodiverse individuals and two facilitators. We will be recruiting current and recent students to take part in these focus groups, and our lead facilitators are neurodiverse themselves.
A note on making these accessible and inclusive:
We want to make these meetings and focus groups accessible to all, so if you are not comfortable with verbal communication, there will be opportunities to type, draw or use gestures to interact with others. If you want to let us know in advance how you prefer to interact in meetings, that may be useful to help us plan ahead, but it is not obligatory.