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Issue 1846 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

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Celebrating Neurodiversity: The Rise of Imperial College Union’s Neurodiversity Society

As Neurodiversity Celebration Week approaches, we take a look at the new groundbreaking Neurodiversity Society

Flx Ndi Photo: Jordan Elliott

Sport & Societies

in Issue 1846

Imperial College Union made a significant stride towards inclusivity with the launch of its first and only Neurodiversity Society earlier this year. Despite being in its infancy, the society has already amassed 68 members and shows no signs of slowing down. Its rapid growth can be attributed to the increasing recognition and understanding of neurodiversity among the student population. The society is likely to only grow bigger as we approach Neurodiversity Celebration Week, which runs from Monday 18th March until Sunday 24th March. 

Neurodiversity is a concept that challenges the conventional notion of a “normal” brain. It acknowledges the natural variation in human brains and cognitive styles, encompassing a range of neurological differences such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and Tourette syndrome, among others. Neurodivergent individuals may face various challenges in society, but they also possess unique strengths and perspectives that enrich our world. 

It is estimated that 15-20% of the world’s population exhibits some form of neurodivergence. These conditions, including ADHD and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), are overrepresented in STEM fields. Unfortunately, neurodivergent individuals often face significant occupational exclusion. Only 22% of Autistic people in the UK are employed, compared to a disability average of 53% and an abled average of 83%. One study by Student Beans found that 25% of neurodivergent students agreed that their neurodivergence impacts the way they study or revise. 

Until now, neurodiversity at Imperial has been somewhat hidden. The Disability Advisory Service (DAS) has been the primary point of contact for neurodivergent students, focusing mainly on the challenges associated with neurodivergence. Although DAS provides incredible support for thousands of students, the service rarely focuses on the positives of being neurodivergent. The Neurodiversity Society is intended to be a celebration of Imperial’s neurodivergent student population. 

The society’s mission extends beyond providing a safe space for neurodivergent individuals, including those with formal and self-diagnoses. It aims to educate both neurotypical and neurodivergent individuals about neurodivergent issues, raise awareness of these issues at Imperial, and advocate for policy changes. The society also supports neurodivergent individuals who may be experiencing difficulties due to their neurodivergence and those who believe they may be neurodivergent through the diagnosis process.

The society has an exciting lineup of events planned for this term to honour Neurodiversity Celebration Week, a global initiative that aims to transform how neurodivergent individuals are perceived and supported by schools, universities, and organisations. The week is dedicated to promoting acceptance, providing education, and celebrating the talents and strengths of neurodivergent individuals. By creating more inclusive and equitable cultures, it highlights the many advantages of being neurodivergent and empowers every individual. Ultimately, the goal is to change the narrative and help the world understand, value, and celebrate neurodiverse minds. 

To achieve this, the Neurodiversity Society has an exciting array of events planned between Monday 18th March and Sunday 24th March. On Wednesday 20th March, they will launch their Siblings Scheme, where neurodivergent individuals are grouped to facilitate engagement and integration within the society. To celebrate the launch, the society will host its first PowerPoint Night, where individuals give presentations about their special interests in a safe and fun environment. There will also be a panel discussion on Thursday 21st March, where speakers from Neurodiversity Society and Able@Imperial (Imperial’s staff disabilities network) will share their experiences and insights into being neurodivergent. Throughout the week, a book stand promoting neurodivergent literature will be displayed in Abdus Salam Library. 

Students can join the Neurodiversity Society on the Union website, follow them on Instagram @icneurodiversitysoc, or visit their linktree at https://linktr. ee/imperial_ndsoc. The society will also be recruiting more committee members in the Summer Elections to help it grow. 

The Neurodiversity Society at Imperial College Union is a significant step towards acknowledging and celebrating neurodiversity. It provides a platform for neurodivergent students to connect, learn, and advocate for change. Whether you’re neurodivergent or not, getting involved in the society is a great way to contribute to a more inclusive and understanding community at Imperial.

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