The global Institute Of Neurodiversity ION has launched its UK chapter.
The Institute aims to give a global voice to all neurodiverse groups, and ensure neurodivergent individuals are understood, represented, and valued equally in society.
Currently, 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodiverse, living with conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and Tourette syndrome.
Neurodiversity has long been regarded as something to ‘overcome’ or assimilate, a view ION seeks to challenge. The Institute intends to lobby government, industry, education and charity sectors, to promote a greater understanding of the reality of being neurodiverse and to work toward eliminating institutional discrimination.
Founded by former Chair of the Institute of Directors and governance expert Charlotte Valeur, with a global steering group of neurodivergent individuals and allies, the Institute Of Neurodiversity ION is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is the world’s only umbrella organisation representing all neurodiverse groups, and aims to have one million members by 2025.
Some immediate tasks include challenging research programmes on neurodiverse groups by highlighting the unintended, future consequences that research may have. Another is to call for reform to common conversion therapies that aim to ‘cure’ neurodiversity, but have misguided aims of changing an individual to be different to what they naturally are.
Ms Valeur said: “We’re a vertical slice of society – in all colours, cultures, industries, countries, we are doctors, we are cleaners, we are everywhere.”
Ms Valeur has had a 35-year career in financial services and the broader corporate world as a non-executive director. While at the Institute of Directors, she revealed in an interview with The Independent that she was autistic, a move that sparked a national conversation about workplace neurodiversity at the time.
She added: “Neurodiverse individuals all have different ways of thinking that have value. The route to equality for us all is not through making society comfortable with our existence, it is to educate society into breaking down those barriers and being inclusive of all types of viewpoints in the world.”
What is Neurodiversity?
Humans are hugely diverse in many ways, and neurodiversity (ND) is a form of diversity. Neurodiverse groups include ADHD, autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and Tourette syndrome. People who are ‘neurotypical’ are those whose brain works in the way that society expects.
Neurodiversity describes these natural variations in the human brain, which affect sociability, learning, attention, and mood. Judy Singer, the sociologist, coined the term in 1998 and journalist Harvey Blume helped to popularise the word.
The medical profession groups neurodiverse people into diagnostic conditions to help understand the challenges that people may experience. However, everyone’s different, even within neurodiverse types.