JOIN NOW! The Neurodiversity In/And Creative Research Network is a new international hub. I co-founded and co-lead the Network with a lecturer in pharmacy and Leverhulme Fellow Dr Ranjita Dhital from Reading University in February 2020. This brings together practitioners and researchers from diverse sectors worldwide, who share their knowledges, critical inquiries and local efforts. Joined by 120 people in its first month, members are from technology, neuroscience, psychiatry, theatre, health, dance, media art, equality and diversity, disability and work in diverse sectors including cultural like museums and galleries, and higher education. We’re from London, Taiwan, Victoria/Australia, British Columbia/ Canada, Netherlands and Exeter, Glasgow, Portsmouth. Many are neurodiverse, many are allies, curious and/or want to work with and learn.

INCLUSIVE: The Network explores the messy and magical definitions of and entanglements between neurodiversity, creativity and research. This is a virtual forum for practitioners and researchers with interest in any of these terms – unstable, multifaceted and exciting as they each already are. We will share, discuss, debate, motivate, interrogate and support one another’s practice and research. Collectively we may help make neurodiversity in research and the contributions of neurodivergent researchers more visible, and make research culture more inclusive. We welcome participants from any background/discipline/sector, with/without an affiliation. As this is a public forum, be mindful about sharing personal and confidential information here. Anyone can join this network. We aim to develop a positive network of individuals interested in Neurodiversity In/And Creative Research.

MASTERCLASSES + KEYNOTES+DISCUSSIONS: Everybody is trying adjust to the disruption and chaos. For neurodiverse colleagues there are additional challenges as well as opportunities. In fact, many are innovating as well, accustomed as we are to forms of ‘self-isolation’ and ‘social distancing’ pre-pandemic. At this new network, as we learn about one another’s work/interests/aims, some also try to share ways to cope and make something positive from the crisis (who’s up for a fun Craftiness Against COVID-19 haiku contest that also supports emerging colleagues? See competition results below!). We have also started online meetings. We began with a keynote and a live online advice support by member Professor of Psychiatry Philip Asherson, and next up are discussions around workplace cultures and diverse practices (including during the current disruptions), identities (disclosure), and keynotes/masterclasses/workshops/provocations by members exploring ‘neuroaesthetics’, trying out new ideas and so on.

WHAT IS NEURODIVERSITY? Although the term is increasingly used/appropriated (not least by World Economic Forum and Nesta et al as a strategy in the face of technological upheaval), ‘neurodiversity’ remains a complex and contested – and hence exciting – term and framework. It can be understood as something that applies to people with dyslexia, ADHD, autistic spectrum, and those with overlapping/co-occurring differences. Like the concept of biodiversity, neurodiversity has been argued to be ‘a next step in a more respectful way of thinking about our planet and our communities’, a ‘more humane and accurate lens’ to understand who we are (Baron-Cohen 2017).

Caption for top image: Screenshot from Network homepage on Jiscmail.