Neurodiversity Celebration Week

Author: Adam Heppell

Date: Wednesday 17th March 2021

This week is Neurodiversity Celebration Week.

The idea of neurodiversity was first established in the 1990s by an Australian sociologist, Judy Singer. She created the term hoping that these differences would no longer be seen as a defect or a disorder. It is estimated that the term “neurodiversity” can apply to 1 in 20 people who may be affected to varying degrees by a raft of conditions such as autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia OCD and epilepsy to name a few.

At Learn with Unite, we run a range of courses aimed at increasing understanding and awareness of many of these conditions.  Give them a go today and achieve a nationally recognised qualification.

Principles of Working with Individuals with Learning Disabilities

Understanding Autism

SEN and Disability

Why is Neurodiversity Recognition Important?

It is important to raise awareness of these conditions especially in school and later in the workplace or life in general. Early knowledge is better for everyone. It removes the stigma of these conditions. It gives people with these conditions the confidence to be themselves. Better education also allows others to make slight adjustments, perhaps in the language they use or how they act around them to make neurodiversity people feel comfortable and reduce the stigma surrounding neurodiversity conditions.


Autism is a condition that one is born with. Those who are diagnosed should be able to lead a normal life. Autism is different for everyone and is determined by a spectrum and different types have different names such as Asperger’s. Those affected may find it hard to communicate and interact with other people and some emotions. They could also get easily overwhelmed by bright lights or noises, or find it difficult in social situations and unfamiliar surroundings and as a result get stressed or upset. For example, a young child with autism may be happier being by themselves. They may take longer to process information. They may repeat activities multiple times rather than doing something different. Quite often a particular interest can develop into an accomplished skill, for example, painting or a musical instrument. These skills can be used to help celebrate neurodiversity, especially in the classroom.

ADHD is not classified, by the NHS, as a form of autism. However, the two conditions have several overlapping symptoms and it is possible to have both diagnoses.


It is estimated that 10% of the UK population is dyslexic. Dyslexia is a language processing difficulty - this means that although dyslexic people can understand verbally, they may read and write very slowly or can confuse the order of letters and put them the wrong way around which can contribute to inconsistent spelling. They may also have difficulty planning or carrying out instructions. People with dyslexia can often be very good at creative thinking and problem solving, story-telling and verbal communication.  Assistive technology can really help here with predictive text, speech recognition and audiobooks instead of paper versions are examples.


It is estimated that up to 5% of the UK population are dyspraxic. It can affect your coordination skills – such as tasks requiring balance, playing sports or learning to drive a car. Dyspraxia can also affect writing or using small objects. Learning new skills can be a challenge as can dealing with emotions and social situations and time management.

People with dyspraxia often have good literacy skills and can be very good at creative, holistic, and strategic thinking.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to do to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.

For example, someone with an obsessive fear of being burgled may feel they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave their house.

Unite the Union and the Marx Memorial Library are creating the largest collection of Oral Histories from working people. Sharing stories of struggle, collectivism, and what it means to be a member and activist within the Trade Union Movement.  Listen to the podcasts now on Spotify and Pocket Casts.