St Bernard’s Lower Primary school have held their first whole-school Neurodiversity Week which consisted of specially designed PSHE sessions to build awareness of and celebrate neurodiverse children. The aim of this awareness week was to create an understanding of what neurodiverse individuals experience and how the school community can help them.
Neurodiversity can be a complex concept to assimilate for young children, and so lessons were carefully planned to ensure everyone was able to access and understand the learning through a range of different tasks and approaches. The main thrust was for children to understand that we are all different, that we all like different things, think differently and learn differently. The children learned about each other by working collaboratively on creative activities. They also undertook various challenges and experiments to simulate what neurodiverse children experience when undertaking tasks that neurotypical children take for granted.
In order for them to gain further understanding, various speakers were invited to the school to speak to the children about their specific neurodiversity and how, as friends, we can empathise with neurodiverse children and support them day to day. Some of these speakers were either the family members of neurodiverse children in the school or in two specific cases two current pupils explaining about their own neurodiversity. Sessions focused on various common neurodiversities: dyslexia, autism, dyspraxia, Down’s Syndrome and ADHD.
Often, a common difficulty for neurodiverse children is being able to socialise and communicate. Therefore, all children across the school were introduced to Makaton as a communication tool. Children were taught various signs and songs including “I can sing a rainbow” which they performed using Makaton and sent to parents via the Seesaw platform. The key message was to reinforce that we are all as different as the colours of the rainbow just like the symbol for neurodiversity.
The initiative was designed and delivered by Mrs Diaz, who has considerable experience working with children who have neurodiversities and saw this as an opportunity to educate the wider school community.