Neurodiversity Ireland launches new educational supports for schools and parents

by Alison O'Hanlon
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Neurodiversity Ireland has launched two educational videos, encouraging greater understanding for and inclusion of children who are neurodivergent. The charity is also calling for more support for the parents and families of neurodivergent children. 

The videos, which can be downloaded from the Neurodiversity Ireland website and shown in schools or at home, were launched in the company of Anne Rabbitte TD, Minister of State for Disability at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

Founded by a group of neurodivergent parents of neurodivergent children in early 2022, Neurodiversity Ireland aims to create a truly inclusive society where children can access the necessary support to participate in their community without barriers, to reach their full potential. The group started in the Dublin village of Sandymount but has become a nationwide movement.

 ‘Let’s be Friends’– Dahlia and Erin’s story

One of the animated videos features school pals Dahlia and Erin, who share their story of fun and friendship. Explaining how everyone is unique and sees the world in different ways, the girls gently remind us of the need to be kind to others at school.

 The animated video, entitled ‘Let’s be Friends’ with accompanying booklet, can be shown in classrooms or at home to introduce the concept of neurodiversity to children and explain how neurodivergent people may process information and their environment differently. 

The other video was first shown at Neurodiversity Ireland’s Infinity Ball in November 2023, which raised funds to help establish a sensory therapy centre in Dublin. The video highlights Neurodiversity Ireland’s goal that neurodivergent children should live happy, connected lives and be supported to reach their full potential. 

“Making a real difference” – Anne Rabbitte TD

“Neurodiversity Ireland is making a real difference to people’s lives by generating awareness of the need for more patience, understanding and support for neurodivergent children and their families,” said Anne Rabbitte TD. “I would encourage schools to use these videos in the classroom and get behind Dahlia and Erin’s message so that more neurodivergent children can participate fully in school life.”

 Also at the launch was Dairine Cullen, Director of Neurodiversity Ireland, who said that educational content was being produced by the charity in response to increasing demand for support and information.

 “In the past year alone, we have had so many schools reaching out to us for advice on how to support students who might be neurodivergent,” said Dairine. “Our videos are a good way to start the conversation about understanding neurodivergence, how neurodivergent children can be supported in their school, and how to create an inclusive environment for all children.

 “We hugely appreciate the backing of Minister Rabbitte, who has also been a great supporter of our Inclusive Educator Awards, and we look forward to even more support from Government Departments as we grow our movement nationwide.  We are really hoping to raise as much awareness and allyship as possible ahead of the arrival of April which is designated as Autism Acceptance Month, so it would be great to get a high number of schools using the materials and pledging to #being a friend in the run up to April,” Ms. Cullen concluded. 

Pictures Brian McEvoy

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