Neurodiversity Celebration week 2023
This week (13 – 19 March 2023) is Neurodiversity Celebration Week. At Berkshire Healthcare we want to make sure that everyone has equal access to effective services and support.
Statistics show that neurodivergent people are more likely to have poorer health outcomes and can also face bigger challenges in finding employment or within the workplace. Our neurodiversity strategy sets out how we’re trying to address some of these issues.
Mary Jane Stroud, Neurodiversity Lead
We spoke to Mary Jane Stroud, Neurodiversity Lead for Children Young People and Families about the work her team have been doing. Neurodiversity Lead and Tani Prindiville, Neurodiversity Advisor, about their experiences at Berkshire Healthcare.
“It has been exciting to see the developments and thinking shift within neurodiversity over time. For example, the growing awareness of neurodiversity, the strengths associated with autism and ADHD, and the importance of neurodiversity-informed and neurodiversity-affirmative services and enabling environments.
“I have the pleasure and privilege of leading amazing teams, who routinely go the extra mile for the children and families they see. They work very hard to provide the best experience we can for children, young people and their families, and to embrace new ways of working including how to use digital technology to support service delivery.”
Tani Prindiville, Neurodiversity Advisor
Tani Prindiville is our Neurodiversity Advisor. Tani is Autistic and has ADHD and has experienced the difficulties neurodivergent people sometimes face when accessing services. “I have always struggled with different aspects of work across all the jobs I have had, however, this has always been hidden due to my ability to mask and just ‘get on with it’. I would push myself in unnatural ways that would take me beyond my limit which would eventually lead to me becoming burnt out, mentally unwell, and in need of extended periods of time away from work.
“The neurodiversity advisor role was created as a part of our neurodiversity strategy. This is the first time I have felt confident to be honest with myself, and others, about the support I need to perform to the best of my ability and recognize the difficulties I may face instead of tackling them on my own. It is an odd feeling to be able to unmask as I am still unsure of what that looks like for me, but I feel empowered and supported by my line manager and my colleagues around me to do so.
“I know there are lots of people who are in the position I used to be in which can be a truly dark and lonely place. I want to use my experiences as a driving force to promote change and ensure that people do not feel the need to struggle in silence and hide themselves away, because we all have so much to offer if given the space to flourish.”
Mental Health with Autistic Traits (MHAT) group
The MHAT group was developed by psychologists based in Reading Integrated Psychological Therapies (IPT), with significant contributions from people with lived experience.
Autism is not a mental health condition, but higher numbers of autistic people suffer with mental health. The MHAT group, is a therapy group we are delivering in Reading. The help of people with lived experience and service users has been vitally important for the development of this group, which is based upon DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) principles. We hope to be continually evolving and improving it as our attendees share their experiences and enhance our understanding. The content and delivery are adapted for autistic people. The group is formed of three parts, here are some of the themes we touch on:
1.Foundation – we explore the experience of Autism, looking at the strengths and struggles, theories, and realities.
2.Emotions – we look at understanding and identifying emotions, pros and cons of masking, stimming, distress tolerance, anxiety, and mood management.
3.Relationships – here we unpack some of the challenges of communicating across neurotypes, navigating relationship difficulties, understanding and managing our interpretations, and communicating assertively.
The content and delivery are adapted to help our participants make the most of the information, skills, and insights they gain. We explore similarities and differences within the group, including other neurological features like dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD etc. We have a strong emphasis upon developing positive identity and building self-worth. Peer support is encouraged, and we have seen the value placed upon connecting with others who share some of the strengths and struggles associated with autism.
Our neurodiversity vision is for everyone at Berkshire Healthcare to recognise, understand and celebrate neurodiversity.
Learn more about our Neurodiversity Strategy (opens in new browser tab)