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Can exclusivity be the answer to inclusivity? - Jonathan Rogers

ADHD and ASD Resources with Rosie are about to take an exciting journey but we know it is going to be a long road.

Children with ADHD and ASD come in many shapes and sizes, and even in this smaller community, everyone's brains are different and each have their own challenging behaviours, mindsets and individuality.

One of the things that bring many people with ADHD and ASD together, are their experiences of different environments and how their journey was not so positive, as they as individuals were not given the individual experience they required to stay in the classroom to be part of the full 12 years or so of education or in the workplace to hold down employment.

In the UK, between 2% - 5% of the population have ADHD and this is even without the many thousands who have not been able to get a diagnosis or the support they need. Of this population there will be many who are experiencing Hypersensitive ADHD and others with Hypersensitive ASD.

The brain of a person with hypersensitive ADHD/ASD is likely to be extremely bothered when they are subjected to anyone of the following, and yet in institutional settings, the environment can be a complex spaghetti junction of all them:

  • Loud, sudden noises

  • Bright or flashing lights

  • Fast objects

  • Strong odours

  • Too much information

Not only are they hypersensitive to the physical overloads, ADHD and ASD children can also have an extreme sensitivity to the information they are receiving, which can result in extreme behaviours due to further lack of regulation in other parts of the brain. For children with ADHD and ASD who are hypersensitive, the very structure that is an education establishment can seem like a river of angry crocodiles snapping at their toes.

We know it takes an awful lot for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD/ASD and even more effort for services to be tailored to meet their individual needs. For some they have the perfect surrounding, but this is rare, and often due to lack of staff, knowledge, space and funding. We don't believe any setting wants to see a child fail, but they are often lacking the resource to allow everyone to thrive according to their needs.

Imagine being a child that is hypersensitive to images and words around them. They walk into a classroom and every freshly painted space and clear pane window is decorated with numbers, pictures, historical figures and key defining moments that will provide information to set young people up for life. These things are important, and without them, OfSTED would criticise settings, but what about the 5% of children who will walk in and be blown away by they imposing colours and arrangements? Those who will have a crushing overload mashing brain connections, trying to make sense of the everything at one time and not being able to clearly identify anything, knowing time is short to do the impossible.

Space is something that is at a premium in schools, with classrooms being made for the occupancy of a set number and ratios imposing a close knit situation but what if a child needs a two metre distance to allow them the sensory relief of not being touched? We seemed to have managed this for the whole of society during the pandemic but we are unable to do this for a set number of young people, to whom distance is a key factor in maintaining a presence in the classroom.

There are so many things that happen in settings, that whilst best practice for a neuro typical child, in our experience this can be a landslide to exclusion for others.

At ADHD and ASD Resources with Rosie, we would like to secure funding to undertake a piece of research that explores the opportunities for safe spaces for children with Hypersensitive ADHD and ASD. We want to work with settings and a range of professionals to look into practices of exclusivity being potential solutions for inclusivity. We will look at whether providing individualised choice for exclusive measures such as some of the suggestions below, would actually promote an inclusive and safe environment where children with ADHD and ASD can thrive as part of a community, using innovative but simple methods:

  • Plain facing walls

  • Mic and headsets (teacher to child)

  • Booths

  • Robots substituting a physical presence

  • Social distancing

  • Personalised lighting

At the moment, we are fund raising through our retail lines to enable us to source more funding, but this is a direction ADHD and ASD Resources with Rosie are committed to pursuing over the next few years.

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