School is officially back in session, and for many parents it will be a reminder of the help and support so many educators give their children.
This is especially true of children with special needs, and the people who support them in schools have a chance to be recognised as the first-ever Neurodiversity Ireland Inclusive Educator Awards are launched.
Neurodiversity Ireland is launching the awards to shine a spotlight on the principals, teachers, resource teachers and SNAs who care for and encourage children with special needs in school, and their vital presence as role models and members of an inclusive school environment.
This has never been more relevant and essential, as schools navigate challenging and resource-constrained circumstances over the past few months. The pandemic certainly reminded many parents of how vital the schools are.
Neurodiversity Ireland was established as a community group in Sandymount, Dublin (as Neurodiversity Sandymount CLG), Neurodiversity Ireland quickly grew into a nationwide movement, due to the strong demand for roll-out across the country. The mission of the organisation is to create neurodiverse-friendly communities, schools and businesses across Ireland, where different brains and unique thinkers are welcomed and celebrated.
Award categories include ones for principal, vice principal or year head. Nominations are now open, and will recognise contributions over the 2021/2022 school year. Winners will be chosen on September 30, and announced at the Neurodiversity Ireland Infinity Ball on October 8 in Dublin.
Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State for Disability at the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, said she is delighted to endorse the initiative, which will recognise those within our schools and more who support children with extra needs.
"It's fantastic to be part of the first-ever Neurodiversity Ireland Inclusive Educator Awards, which represent a new era for inclusive education and shine a light for wider society on how to embrace and support all children equally. The time has come to celebrate the strengths of our neurodiverse children and the talents of those supporting them through education.
"I have seen first-hand the wonderful work and innovation taking place in schools throughout the country to ensure our neurodiverse children are supported in reaching their full potential. It's great to see Neurodiversity Ireland acknowledge this and I look forward to meeting everyone at the Neurodiversity Ireland Infinity Ball on October 8th."
As well as the Neurodiversity Ireland Inclusive Educator Awards, Neurodiversity Ireland is also launching its 'LETMEBEME' back to school campaign.
This campaign aims to give a platform to neurodivergent adults and kids, where they can share what helps them feel secure and happy in themselves, and helps them achieve success.
To get involved, you can use the #LETMEBEME hashtag to share your thoughts and feelings. As part of the 'LETMEBEME' campaign and to help with the transition to starting or going back to school, Neurodiversity Ireland is sharing stories from our neurodiverse community about the accommodations or small differences that can allow children to feel safe, comfortable and happy to be themselves.
Educators can also get involved by creating a 'LETMEBEME' teaching culture, such as focusing on inclusive and child-centred approach, creating an environment that supports each child's differences and unique skills (such as not insisting upon "whole body listening").
They can also work on creating or ensuring the best physical learning environment for each child (for example, by assessing the physical environment for and reducing as far as possible sensory-stress and by providing such equipment as may be possible to facilitate sensory regulation), and maximising opportunities for integration with the class, school year and school community and the wider community.
Neurodiversity Ireland started off as a community group in Sandymount, Dublin (as Neurodiversity Sandymount CLG), before quickly growing into a nationwide movement, due to the strong demand for roll-out across the country. Their mission is to create neurodiverse-friendly communities, schools and businesses across Ireland, where different brains and unique thinkers are welcomed and celebrated.
They are the representative voice for the growing diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) movement, with a focus upon neurodiversity inclusivity.