Charles Darwin University has established a Neurodiverse Hub to better support the experience of students and staff with neurodivergent backgrounds and foster inclusivity on campus.
CDU has teamed up with Untapped Holdings to create the Neurodiversity Hub to provide resources and new approaches to assist teachers and students during their university journey.
According to Untapped CEO Andrew Eddy, being in the classroom can be a challenge for neurodivergent and sensory overloaded students.
“Just to be in the room takes a lot out of sensory sensitive people and they can become exhausted from the experience,” Eddy said.
“However, if you make changes to limit distraction to support these students then it would actually help every student.”
Neurodiversity includes autism, dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia or anyone on the spectrum.
In Australia, about one in eight Australians suffers from some form of neurological variations and there were 164,000 autistic Australians in 2015.
People with autism are less likely to have educational qualifications beyond secondary education, while people with other disabilities are 2.3 times more likely to have a higher education degree.
In comparison, students with no disabilities are 4.4 times more likely to obtain tertiary qualifications.
CDU Lecturer in Education Dr Khyiah Angel believes this partnership will help CDU improve the results of its neurodivergent students, which is particularly important at a higher education level.
“There is a lot of untapped potential amongst people who are neurodivergent,” Angel said.
“It’s the environment across tertiary education that makes it (neurodiversity) a disability with sensory overload and convoluted instructions.”
For neurodivergent people, the environment they evolve in can either facilitate or impede their development.
Last year, CDU’s Casuarina Campus developed a sensory space which provides a safe and soothing environment for students and staff with autism, ADHD, sensory disorders, PTSD, borderline personality disorder, mental health conditions, anxiety or depression.
The space is also accessible to anyone who needs some quiet time, and has been designed as a pilot with feedback to be used to design more neurodiverse rooms across all CDU campuses.
CDU deputy vice chancellor Students and VET Sam Jacob believes the new Neurodiversity Hub will help develop an inclusive environment on campus.
“The Neurodiversity Hub boasts a new narrative by focusing on the strengths of people with ADHD and autism that promotes accessibility and inclusivity,” he said.
“Our aim at CDU is to create an environment that promotes inclusion, equality and acceptance in our university community, so that all our students and staff can feel at home with us.”Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]