Society Spotlight: Neurodiversity and Disability Society

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Neurodiversity is the diversity of brains and minds – a positive way to look at things that society often brands as “disorders” while still acknowledging the challenges faced by neurodivergent people. Disability is defined in the UK as “a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term effect on one’s ability to do normal daily activities”.

Neurodiversity & Disability Society, or NDSoc for short, is a brand new society for students who identify as neurodivergent or disabled, those who are self-diagnosed or unsure, and anyone else who would like to learn more about neurodiversity and disability topics. Any student with a long-term condition is very welcome, whatever type of disability they have, be it physical, mental, cognitive, etc.

Our aim is to create an inclusive community where people can both express themselves in a non-judgemental setting and learn new things. The society would like to help people engage in self-advocacy and possibly liaise with Enabling Services, as well as providing advice to fellow students about the support options available at University or anything else they may want to talk about.

We would like to try and create a space with a slightly different, more flexible and negotiable set of social rules. For example, if you dislike small talk, there is no pressure to engage in it: you can simply make it known.

During our meetings we use “colour communication badges” that work like a stoplight. Green indicates you are happy to talk to people, but might have difficulties starting conversations. Yellow signals that you would like to only be approached by people you know. Red means that you would prefer that people not talk to you unless you start the conversation. It is an easy way to communicate your current social needs, and is useful for people who may have trouble reading non-verbal cues.

If you stim (stims are things like repetitive movements) or behave in other ways that neurotypical society may deem unusual, in NDSoc there is no problem with that, as long as it is not hurting you or others, of course. It is an experiment of communicating on your own terms.

We make an emphasis on intersectionality: we not only respect the diversity of minds and bodies, but also of other things – such as race, gender, religion, sexual or romantic orientation, etc.

The idea for this society came to me a while ago, but I really decided to create it after seeing someone speak about disability confidently and positively. I figured that rather than worrying and ruminating over what people might think, it would be much more productive to create something positive out of disability and neurodiversity, since there really are many positives.

I thought that having a society like that to go to would have been very beneficial for me when I first started university. Also, I personally find it much easier to connect with other neurodivergent people, so it could be a good way for students to make friends.

Besides being a place to go for peer support, we would like to hold some educational events similar to FemSoc. Other ideas include various fun stuff: film screenings, get-togethers, picnics, stim toy making workshops, art workshops, perhaps sign language workshops… We want your ideas, so get in touch!

Interested? Go ahead and find our Facebook group at fbl.me/NDSoc.
Everyone is welcome!

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