A summary of tips, tricks, and resources for the Youth Sector in Canterbury.
Neurodiversity, Youth Workers, Community By Jacey Goldfinger, Coordinator
Last week...the other week...last month -- see, when I started writing this post, it was to sum up the information from the most recent Connect Network: Neurodiversity within the Community. However, in true neurodiverseness, last week has come and gone, and it's taken me nearly a month to share with you what we discussed. For those who have been waiting for this, thank you for your patience and understanding. For those who didn't get to attend, I welcome you.
Now, for the Neurodiversi-'tea'....and if you have no idea what it means to be neurodiverse, I highly suggest you start with this great resource published by The Education Hub (2019), What is Neurodiversity?
Putting it Together
After the initial introductions, "Hey, hi, hello there", the Connect attendees offered their experiences, triumphs and tribulations of living with their 'neuro' system and how they deal with the young people they work with, who may or may not have their own neurodiverse variations.
You see, Neurodiverse brains are not wired equally and the diversity within each of us, creates unique strengths and challenges that guide our wants and needs. Ultimately though, we all want the same thing. That is, we want inclusive environments that support individuals with neurodiverse traits, at any age.
Food for Thought
It was an enlightening and empowering conversation that highlighted the importance of embracing neurodiversity as a valuable asset in our society because individuals like us are often overlooked or discredited as we're labeled as being lazy, forgetful, or incompetent. When in reality, we just run on a different timeline and we are motivated by our surroundings.
If you learn that someone on your team or a youth you work with is neurodiverse, feel free to take the following into consideration. Though the needs of individuals will vary, some strategies that were shared included:
Needing effective communication that includes clear, direct guidance over tasks and priorities. For example, 'What do you want me to do it? When do you expect it to be done?"
Fostering supportive relationships by understanding the individuals needs. This could be as simple as allowing space for a person who is always 'running late', if the job is getting done, then give space to ease anxiety where it might arise.
Promoting acceptance in both personal and professional settings, which will look different depending on the individual's needs so remember to ask "How can I help you do your best?"
TLDR? Resources below...
Overall, the conversation was comfortable and empowering, because there we were, in a space where we were free to be us, free to be normal. A space where we realised there is a considerable lack of resources available and awareness surrounding Neurodiversity in New Zealand, and especially in Canterbury. So, that is why I am here today. Writing to you to share the resources that we have collectively pulled together, as well as some communication from other organisations that were able to contribute post-meeting.
Different Kind of Human Project - Talking to people who are neurodiverse, diverse and just plain different. This is a space to celebrate diversity and hear from people who are intentionally living outside the box of society's constraints.
Brain Badge - Embrace Diversity, Unlock Potential: Become Neuroinclusive with BrainBadge! Empower Your Organization, Drive Innovation, and Foster Inclusive Excellence.
Divergenthinking - Our unique nQFramework transforms businesses by helping them to recognise and understand cognitive differences to unlock their team’s valuable potential, which ultimately, supercharges any organisation to thrive.
Egg Academy - Our mission is to connect the world with creativity. Egg Academy is a digital skills academy for teens.
Tūranga Library - Offers sensory hours (dimmed lights, and Level 1 is "quieted down") in collaboration with the 'southern center'. Book-a-librarian to help curate a book list or guide a young person through the library. --> South Library run Neuro-craft: Minecraft for those with a speech therapist.
4C Centre - the 'Y' - To support young people’s opportunities to use technology to build on the 4C key competencies: (Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking and Curiosity).
Reframe Wānanga - Reframe Wānanga is a platform that provides innovative programs to learn about Mental Health in Aotearoa-New Zealand.
Brackenridge - We offer specialised person-directed support to young people with intellectual disabilities and autism – our services vary to suit your individual requirements and goals in life. Person-directed support means that we help you choose what you want and how you want to go about it.
Beehyve - A buzzing hub of practitioners and services that offer support to help people thrive and to meet a demand for support that truly understands the specific needs of adult ADHD and can serve a broad range of those working on their wellbeing.
Young Neurodiversity Champions - A group of 15 young individuals across Aotearoa. We have been selected by the Neurodiversity in Education Coalition as advocates for our neurodiverse peers. We are working closely with the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education, ADHD New Zealand, and Autism New Zealand.
If you would like to join us at our next networking event or training, then head to the Events Calendar on our website by clicking the button below.