We are introducing a brand-new series to give societies a voice, we started “Society Spotlight” to interview our favourite Socs and hopefully convince you to try them out.
For this issue, Eve Power, auditor of Neurodivergent Society gave us insight into her work.
When was Neurodivergent Society founded?
The Neurodivergent Society was founded in 2021. This is our second year as a society, and we were just recently granted full society approval by USCG.”
How many students are signed up for it?
As of now, we have 322 registered members – almost triple what we had last year!
Who is Neurodivergent Society for?
The Neurodivergent Society is for any student at the University of Galway that identifies as neurodivergent or is an ally of neurodivergent people.
Neurodivergent is an umbrella term to describe people who think, feel, learn, and behave differently to what is considered typical. This may include ADHD, autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, or OCD, but is by no means limited to these conditions.
What does a regular ND Soc meeting look like?
The goal behind our events is always to provide a safe space where neurodivergent people feel they can be themselves. At the moment, that usually involves a relaxed space with food, fidget toys, and art supplies.
We try to have art supplies and fidget toys at our events as they can be a great distraction if someone isn’t necessarily comfortable talking within a group – and also because they’re fun!
We also emphasize that crafting is optional – but so is chatting. That may sound strange, but it’s all about the comfort of the individual and we want everyone to get what they want from our events.
We might discuss our experiences of being neurodivergent at the events, but the topics vary greatly – ranging from anything you can think of to absolutely everything!
We also try to keep our room locations and times as regular as possible because we know change can be hard to adjust to for some neurodivergent people. We also have some one-off special events, however, like movie nights and discussion groups.
What do you hope will change for neurodivergent students on campus?
I want neurodivergent students to feel as comfortable and welcome on campus as neurotypical students. Having this society is one step towards that. It makes us so happy to hear from our members the positive effect we’re having on their student life.
However, I would like to see more structured change on campus. The needs of neurodivergent people should be considered in all aspects of university life. Think about things like An Bialann, it can be a sensory nightmare for anyone – but can you imagine having diagnosed sensory issues and trying to navigate that space?
Simple solutions like quiet lunch spaces would make the world of difference. Another big thing that I continue to advocate for is blended learning.
Different learning styles are common, especially for neurodivergent people, so teaching styles should reflect that. More awareness of neurodivergence is needed on campus in general, and from that, I hope positive change will follow.