“Neurodiversity is not particularly well understood in the Fire and Rescue Service. It’s an incredibly important matter, both in how we engage with the communities we serve and, indeed, our own workforce”
This was the introduction to the recent Local Government Association (LGA) Annual Fire Conference webinar on neurodiversity in the fire sector, chaired by Fiona Twycross, London’s Deputy Mayor for fire resilience and the Vice Chair of the Fire Service Management Committee. Three presentations followed, including a detailed explanation of what neurodiversity is, practical case studies of neurodiversity within the fire sector, and details of support groups and projects being developed for all fire and rescue services to benefit from going forward.
What is Neurodiversity?
‘Neurodiversity is representative of the fact that differences in neurology should be recognised and respected as a social category, similar to ethnicity, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, gender or disability’. This extract is from an article about Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist who coined the term ‘neurodiversity’ in the 1990s. Being on the autistic spectrum, and a high achiever in her professional field, she rejected the idea that people with autism are considered disabled. Judy advocates that people whose brains work differently, for example, because of conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia need support to be embraced as part of the mainstream so they can fully participate as members of the community.