NeuroSpicy is the name of the pilot programme we will be running in the summer holidays to explore and better meet the needs of our wonderful neurodiverse participants. As an organisation we aim to support the involvement of all young people including those who are neurodiverse. Being neurodiverse means having a brain that works differently from the average or ‘neurotypical’ person. Neurodiverse people may experience differences in ways of communicating, learning, perception and social preferences. Neurodiversity encompasses a range of diagnoses such as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), dyslexia, dysgraphia, bi-polar and social anxiety.

We held a focus group to explore with our participants, volunteers and staff what would make our projects more attractive, accessible and enjoyable to people who are not neurotypical. Some of the things we discussed included knowing what to expect on a project through having clear information and structure to the day; being able to opt out of activities, choose which activities to participate in and having break out spaces that are quiet and peaceful.

But above all the feeling was that people just wanted to be able to be themselves and not ‘mask’, that is, trying to fit in with expected ‘normal’ behaviour, because sometimes they might need to self-stimulate (stim) through soothing movements or actions or just take time away from the group. Our best take away from the focus group was that we need to provide a fidget box full of ‘fidgets’ for people to use if they have to concentrate or listen for a while. Our NeuroSpicy group will be exploring how to make natural fidget toys to be used with all our groups.

NeuroSpicy will be open to anyone but will be a small group doing a range of activities in a comfortable and familiar greenspace. It will take place over 4 sessions in July and August. We will also be making some subtle changes to all our programmes to better support the participation of our neurodiverse participants.