This week is Neurodiversity Celebration Week, a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. Its purpose is to help the world understand, value and celebrate the talents of neurodiverse minds.
What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is the concept that all our brains work in different ways.
20% of the UK’s adult population are diagnosed with conditions such as: autism spectrum condition (ASC), dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory processing disorder, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and Tourettes.1
The term ‘neurodivergent’ is used to describe an individual who has a condition causing them to think, behave and learn differently from what is perceived to be ‘typical’. Neurodivergent should not be considered as something wrong, but simply a difference in the way we process the world.
Neurodivergent conditions are recognised as disabilities and are protected under the Equality Act (2010) and 1 in 7 people in the UK are thought to be neurodivergent.
Each condition comes with common traits and most neurodivergent conditions have a spectrum. This means that the way a person experiences them, and the impact they will have, will vary. The age that someone was diagnosed, and the support they have received to manage their condition will also have an impact on the individual.
Neurodiversity and homelessness
The first peer-reviewed study came from UCL and Kensington and Chelsea Learning Disability Service in 2018.2 It found strong evidence suggesting adults with autism are overrepresented among those experiencing homelessness and that autism is a likely risk factor for becoming homeless.
12.3% of 106 rough sleepers that were screened “showed strong signs of autistic traits that would be consistent with an autism diagnosis.” This creates implications as some forms of housing may be unsuitable which means those adults who are autistic and experiencing homelessness are not having their needs met and are placed in a vulnerable position.
We, at Homeless Link, are committed to supporting people from a diverse range of backgrounds, including those who are neurodiverse. We believe that if we work together, there is no limit to the change that we can make.
What can you do?
Take some time this week to reflect on how your service can further support those who are neurodiverse. It is important that we take a person-centred approach, as every neurodivergent person has a unique pattern of strengths and challenges.
Please see a number of resources in the Neurodiversity section in our Knowledge Hub here. It includes excellent resources to help your services to become more inclusive to those who are neurodiverse and experiencing homelessness, such as a learning disabilities and homelessness toolkit, resources from our dementia training project and an autism and homelessness toolkit.