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Neurodiversity in Planning Let the conversation begin

Royal Town planning institute

What is neurodiversity and why are we talking about it now? Listen to this webinar in order to begin a conversation about neurodiversity.


Unknown Speaker 0:04

Hello, everybody, thank you for joining us this afternoon for our neuro diversity and planning webinar, get some really excited to be able to say that this is the first of our events. And we've got a great range of speakers with us this afternoon, I'll ask each of our speakers to introduce themselves prior to starting and give us their titles. In addition to that, I just want to let everybody know that we've got a great chat function on the right hand side of your screens. So during the course of the discussion, if you could just send through any questions you've got, we'll include those or as many as we can in the question and answer segment at the end. We're trying to make this as interactive as possible. So I've got a few polls for you as well. And just finally, before I head off, and hand over to Keith Mitchell, we've got a dedicated neurodiversity in planning email address, which you can send any additional questions too, should we be unable to get through them all today. And also, just to plug our recently formed LinkedIn group, we're really proud to say that we've got just over 100 members. So we're encouraging everybody to continue these conversations there through those channels. So without further ado, I'll hand over to Kelly.

Unknown Speaker 1:22

I think Kelly had disappeared, Nick, I think Can we start with you to do the presentation first? Okay. All righty.

Unknown Speaker 1:45

Myself. So my name is Nick Tyler, engineer. And I run a research group in a laboratory, which looks at how people interact with the environment. And we study that at very many scales. So I'm going to talk a little bit how we can make or charge places neuro diverse to match the neuro diversity of the human population. And that's questions that come out of, that I'm going to talk about. So to start off with, if we go to the, to the next slide. One of the interesting things about the way that we look at the world is that the brain is always looking for patterns. And that's sort of a bit frustrating, it doesn't see them. And then for the unexpected things that you don't see tend to be quite cheap. But if we think about natural environments, so here's a tree. And in the tree, there are many leaves, and every one of those leaves could you could probably go to a biology book and you find the leaf of the tree, you could identify it from the leaf, if you if you had if you have because all the leaves are kind of the same. Actually, none of them is. And in in the natural way very used to seeing something and being able to sort of collect it together and say it is the leaves of a tree. every leaf actually is very different, but actually it's they're all the same we can as normal, which to buy water, if that tree was an unnatural thing. If I made a pattern, for example, the highly repetitive as repetitive as those leaves on the tree, but every single item was exactly becomes 30. And so, what we need to think about when we when we look at our environments, especially environments that bill also that we how do we patterns in the environment that and disturbing and that is kind of the issue early on. Talk about the show of hands think about aggregation of these three typical things being 2000 leads on that tree we have it H and n and the brain basic aggregate data guide

Unknown Speaker 4:45


Unknown Speaker 4:48

the brain, in bonds and catalyst which enables it enables us to see patterns and those patterns can be either we like the pattern is really comfortable, or it could be challenging. It could be a pattern that makes us wonder what it is. But it's a question that we might like to ask, do you move on to the next one now, or it may actually be conflicting, we may end up with different kinds of data or patterns that actually conflict with each other. And that is very unsettling. And that's what what we don't really like. But the brain's ability to sort out patterns is going on all the time. And what whether we are experiencing a comforting or challenging or a conflicting pattern really depends in the first place on how the brain aggregates the data. And how the brain aggregates the data is kind of what we are doing with design. So if we look at the next slide, I tried to sort of set that out more simply, the, the ability to aggregate data into patterns is kind of what the brain does. And what design is about is trying to create patterns that the brain can aggregate. So we give the design gives the brain data, the brain aggregates that and we end up with a pattern and what we would like is that pattern not to serve us in a way that makes it difficult for us to be looking at it or, or hearing it or feeling it or smelling it, and so on through our sensorial pathways. So if we go to the next slide, it takes the brain a little while to do this. And so and it's very much faster in doing this, for example, with hearing than it is with vision. And therefore, we have a kind of issue that we sometimes can process the sound or something before we actually see it. Before we can process the sight of it in our vision systems. And that is particularly true, up to about a distance of around 10 meters from where we are, after 10 meters, the being the difference between the speed of light and the speed of sound takes over. And we will process visual things before we hear them. So Thunder would be a very good example where you hear where you see the lightning flash, and afterwards you hear the thunder, that's because it's a huge distance away. But if you are in up to about 10 meters, so in an urban environment, actually your ears are telling you more about that environment more quickly and more responsibly than your eyes. And so when the brain is processing all these data into patterns, so that it can understand them. Actually, it's all about time, rather than vision. So if we go to the next one, what um, what that leads us into is that how we experience the world is how the world arrives through our sensorial pathways, through our eyes, through our ears, through our nose, through our skin, through our feet, and so on. And all of these senses we put together, and that gives us our picture of the world. So how quickly we can cope with surprises depends on how quickly we can process all of that sensory data. And so when you have a conflict, which is kind of sense, causing you to want to go and look at something again, that was that really read it, was it really a letter, then we need to go back and think about this again. So that slows it down. And that causes us to become more tense and find it more difficult. So if we go to the next slide, the the image that we have here, this is about how we actually interact with the world is through our senses. And one of the things that we're as a species aiming to do is to think in terms of sociality. So sociality is about how we, as a species interact with each other. And a simple way of understanding what we mean by sociality is

Unknown Speaker 9:28

the sense of being able to walk, let's say walking down the streets and you see somebody that you don't know. And you feel comfortable enough that you can say hello to them, and wave to them, maybe continue walking past them. So this is not entering into a conversation with them. It's simply the sense that you can you can cope with somebody that you don't know that you don't feel as threatening. They are in an environment where that is kind of normal. And that is that is fine. That's sort of what we mean by sociality. This photograph is a picture of a place in Havana, Cuba. And the reason I'm showing you this photograph is that, in the middle of that picture, you what you can see is a cannon as a British 18th century naval cannon, which has been put into the ground, and is put into the ground to prevent cars from going across into the street. But because it's a cannon, when it's in the ground far enough to make it rigid enough to stop traffic, it's about the height that is convenient. Being on soon on this, and what has happened around that is that people are starting to form social spaces. And you can see little groups of people there chatting, and so they don't necessarily know each other. Some of them might, some of them might not. But they are creating a social environment, and is that social environment that is actually marking out the distance, the difference between where the cars can go and where they can't go. And that is a way of creating sociality, or enabling people to create their own sociality. So that canon, although its original intention was to stop traffic has actually succeeded because of its design. It succeeded in being used in order to generate sociality. So if we go on to the next slide, I have another kind of image about, about how we can use design to do this. In this image, this is a bus station in Nicosia, in Cyprus. And it was in the process of being re designed. And these two benches at this the front of the photograph. What you can see in there is they're curved, that actually s shaped. And you can see the way that people are looking, if you see the one on the left, there are people doing their emails, they're being fairly isolated. They're sort of kind of chatting, if you look at the one on the right, you see that there's the group of young men sitting on the inside of the curve, and they are having a conversation with each other in a much more comfortable way than they would normally do that if it was a straight punch. And on the outside of the bench. You see people having doing their emails and their and their text messages and whatever they're doing. And the interesting thing in this place is that if somebody new arise, they will instinctively go to the middle of the inside circle of people who are being more, expressing more sociality, shall we say? Because that seems a more plausible environment for them to ask a question. So one of the things that we find is that we to in order to have that sense of sociality, you actually have to feel comfortable in the environment. When we looked at cities, which have very big violence issues, for example, it does not exist, the violence scares it away. Also, it's very important, that is much more easily to be comfortable, if the world is within the way in which you feel comfortable in it, which is really depends on your capabilities on your ability to be here and what we can do. So as capabilities. Pan, this is things that we want. And so how actually engender comfort to create. So managing parties, and that means that we can actually start to think about design is in all they can create comfort in the best possible range of relations. And that is where neuro diverse.

Unknown Speaker 14:11

Go to the next slide, there is a kind of question there, which is about the capabilities that the environment has that it requires us to have in order for us to interact with the with the environment. That is how it imposes itself on people. And so if it requires us to have perfect vision, then if we don't have perfect vision, we will not be able to feel comfortable in that environment. And that means that the environment has to work around that is to do other things to compensate for that requirement so that it matches the abilities and the capabilities of the people who are there. And that is the question of what we're doing in design. So if I look at the next question, which is looking more at the kinds of things that we find test new Diversity a little bit more and more challenging for people with a broader range of how they express their sensory senses. Things like visual clutter or complex acoustics, or making or when there's the sense of moving from one space to another doesn't make sense, that changes abruptly from one thing to another, or there is nowhere where I can just kind of hide myself away. Or it's not clear. Is this a place where I can see easily or feel comfortable with the sound? Or how do I actually move from one place to another? How do I? How do I move out of the street into a house, out of the street into a bus? What are the complexities of that transition from one space to another, that I have to be able to cope with? How do we actually make sure that we can hear and see and smell and feel in the right way? And do we have space in that public space to be able to do that? And do we feel safe? How do we actually do these are just some issues that come out of thinking about people who may be challenged by one or more of those things. And that makes spaces not amenable for them. And then they feel that this is not a place for them. And then they become more isolated, and they don't go out and so on. And it's very, very important that we think as designers that we do not create a pattern patterns are created by the person who is experiencing them. And actually, we need to think about how somebody else will perceive a particular pattern that we may be wishing to present in order to understand whether that perception of the pattern is going to be conflicting, or challenging or comforting for the person who is who is experiencing it. So we need to move to the next one we need to understand better, how do we actually get these capabilities of perceiving patterns? How do we get those to work better. And they all have to work at the same time because we experience the world at the same time. So how we actually do that means we have to have a much, much better understanding than we do, about how capabilities work in relation to each other, and to the world in which we're positioned. So to do that in, you can go to the next slide now to do that we we have realized that we actually have to build a space where we can study patterns, and people experiencing those patterns. In a very controlled environment where we can control the light, we can control the noise, we can control the smell, we can control the feel, we can and we can measure and observe and ask and help us to understand how different people experience all of those combinations. So that we can begin to understand how people can understand the different contexts of buildings, open spaces, transport systems, the thresholds in between any of all these things, how we can actually understand that better. So that that can inform how we design. So if you go to the next one, I can show you some pictures of what that's going to look like. So this is the architect's rendering of the kind of laboratory space that we have everything you see there can be changed, it's only there because we image terms have put it there. And that is a huge space where we can create worlds where we have total control over what that world is. So we know that the light is at a certain frequency or the sound is at a certain pitch.

Unknown Speaker 18:52

And we can then see with people how they actually interact with that. If you go to the next slide, you can see what that space looks like at the moment. So it's under construction. But you can get a sense of the scale. And you can also see that you can't really see the end of it. So one of the reasons for that is that this is a space, which when it's finished, you won't be able to see the edge of it, you will only see what we have put in there. So that we can actually understand completely how you are seeing the space that is in front of you and you're not conflicted by other things. If you go to the next slide, then we can by doing that, we can start to understand how we can enable people to feel comfortable with the things that do surprise them. And then because in the end something is going to surprise somebody sometime. And so we need to make that not a nasty, horrible experience. It needs to be something that they can cope with. And that is really what we're talking about when I say can we make Place neurodiverse. Because if we can make the place now neuro diverse, it will be much more comfortable for people who are neuro diverse. And at the end of the day, we are all neuro diverse in some way, we just have different parts of the spectrum more available to us. So thank you very much. That's the last one.

Unknown Speaker 20:21

Brilliant. Thank you, Nick. That's a really interesting and great takeaways there, particularly on sociality, and spaces, and also capabilities, just to remind everybody that all of the handouts are available to be downloaded in PDF form on the right hand side of your screen, but if you've got any particular accessibility requests do let us know or Lucy Barton or the rtpi, and we can get those sent through to you. So I'll hand over now to Keenan Mitchell, who's another one of our co founders.

Unknown Speaker 20:52

Hello, can you hear me? It's fantastic. Right? So just going to start off by thanking everyone from the rtpi for this amazing opportunity. I didn't think I was going to be here at the start, because my technology wasn't working. So I might look like I'm reporting to you from 2010 with the state of this camera quality, but let's see how it goes. So just before we begin, my name is Keeley Mitchell. I'm relatively new to the game. I've been working for dacorum borough Council's local plan team about two years. And I'm also three out of four years as an undergrad at London Southbank. I recently started speaking about neurodiversity and planning. Actually, when I got diagnosed with dyspraxia, 2019 so I'm always learning, I'm learning by experience. And I like to say that I'm not a medical professional. I'm an expert by experience if you like, I am a neurodivergent planner. But that being said, times talking about neurodiversity Welcome to my presentation. I bet you're thinking what's with the Rockets? Well, what better than to have a metaphor about launching on the first conversation? Next 20 minutes, I'm going to be speaking to you a little bit about what is neurodiversity? Who are neuro diversity and planning. Why is this conversation so important for planners, and for everyone? And what can I do best to support neurodiversity? So what is neuro diversity? So might seem like a big, scary medical word for all of us. It's actually very simple. Narrow means brain. And diversity in this context means the range of different kinds of brain. Most people when they think of neurodiversity, they think it's just for people who are autistic or dyslexic. But actually, neurodiversity means everybody. We all think, learn and communicate differently. And it's a biological fact that no two brains are the same. neurodiversity is just like any other form of diversity, as in biodiversity, the diversity of all plant and animal life, neuro diversity, diversity of brains. Here's some more definitions just because we know we love them. If God neurodivergent I've open these down, by the way, so we know neurally neuro equals brain. So here's the meaning of the words, but I'll go into the definition in a bit more detail. neurodivergent means being a person whose brain functions in a way that differs significantly from what we'd say is typical. neuro divergence is the process of diverging, it can be largely genetic or innate, or genetic and innate, or produced by some kind of brain altering experience can be a combination of the two. There are some types of neuro divergence that are intrinsic to someone's psyche, personality and way of relating to the world, like autism spectrum condition. And there are some forms of neuro divergence that you could remove from the person without taking away their sense of self like. So neuro divergence isn't intrinsically positive or negative is just the state of being different. neuro typical is what it says on the tin having the distinctive qualities of a particular type of thing is the opposite of neurodivergent. And it does not mean normal. A neuro minority is a population of neurodivergent people who will share the similar form of neuro divergence. And then you'd say a group of people is neurodiverse. If one or more of the group differs substantially with their brain functioning. Of course, we haven't. Let's try again. So this is Kaylee. Just imagine that that circles my brain.

Unknown Speaker 24:31

He has hat is an individual whose brain functions in a way that's different to most other people. So she neurodivergent not neurotypical because neurotypical is the opposite and neurodivergent. This clearly has any forms of neuro divergence with ADHD and dyspraxia, she could identify as a neuro minority, a group of people who share the similar forms. If he were to enter a room with lots of individuals with lots of different types of brain, we'd say this group is neuro diverse. Have you noticed how no Here's the same as neurodiversity. It's important for us to remember that we all have unique brains, there's no such thing as normal. We're all part of this wider spectrum of neurodiversity. labels like autistic and dyspraxic do bring about the danger of putting people in boxes, and there is also a danger of drawing lines between his typical and who's a minority. However, these terms do remain in common usage. So let's give some of the basics we need to avoid simplistic labeling. But these are important reference points for people and their sense of self. So we've got dyslexia, dyslexia can often mean someone who has very well developed visual skills creativity, and this comes about with a difficulty in processing sounds and putting things in order. dyspraxia, DCD is associated with the high verbal abilities, and adaptability because it makes problem with movement is about color is something about maths and recalling numbers, but you might have good reading writing skills and a long term memory. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is usually associated with creativity, passion, hyper focus, but it affects the ability of your brain that controls impulses and self regulation. Autism Spectrum condition mean someone has a lot more going on in their brain processing the senses, but they can have a lot more order. And they can have a big, very good memory, fine detail processing, but they may have difficulties with communication, social interaction, sensory processing, and experience overload. Tourette syndrome is characterized by involuntary movements or tics, but these people also have an ability to hyperfocus and often have a great deal of empathy. You can have acquired neuro divergence. And of course, there's mental health, we know mental health can affect the way you function. And it is more prevalent in neurodivergent communities. So although the debates ongoing as if mental health is or isn't, we need to consider it together. Of course, you need to remember that once you've met one person, you've met one person. And a diagnosis might not necessarily mean that your group is neurodiverse. This is why this is my favorite theory, the bucket of balls. So the balls indicate different types of challenges. Normally, you need to meet a threshold to get diagnosis or accessible to Person A, with their challenge the threshold being the line around the bucket, they would meet a threshold. But would you necessarily describe someone from bucket B as being typical. This is why you probably shouldn't rely on the prevalence of diagnosis to this view only indicator if your group is neurodiverse. Instead, for the positive assessment or the spiky profile, genius within develop this simple assessment with highlight strengths, as well as weaknesses can't be difficulties without seeing strengths he brought shows what I mean. So a neurodivergent individual may have large gaps between their strengths and their weaknesses, whereas someone who's neurotypical will be consistently flat. They might be consistently low, average or good. But what the difference is that you don't have those big gaps. You think of a spectrum, you think of something like this, because you should maybe think of something like this. neurodiversity is multi dimensional, and it overlaps. Studies often been about the study of our weaknesses. In fact, most of these conditions and named on our weaknesses, dyslexia literally means difficulty with words. Maybe we could focus on some of our strengths, again, avoid simplistic labeling, but this leads nicely onto the neurodiversity paradigm. neurodiversity paradigm rejects the pathologizing of neuro divergence, it boils down to three fundamental principles. We know that neuro diversity is a biological fact. But we know that we say that it's a natural and valuable form of diversity and that there's no normal or healthy type of brain, and when embraced just like any other form of diversity, that can act as a source of potential.

Unknown Speaker 29:17

The neurodiversity paradigm provides the function, the foundations, the neuro diversity movements to launch the neurodiversity movement characterized by this rainbow infinity sign designed by autistic individuals. The colors represent the diversity of people on any kind of spectrum, the multi dimensional nature of our brains, and the infinity symbol itself represents the idea of endless possibilities and untapped potential. So why is this important for planners? I'm going to start a little bit with the medical and social model of disability medical model says that your diagnosis is a personal problem, whereas the social model actually states that society is what's disabled. killing people. We know that neuro divergence can cause issues. But we're not saying that the person is the problem is society and what's around us. So think about it, your influences a planet over these factors, the environment, your procedures, and your attitudes. This is why we set up neurodivergent neurodiversity in planning in south by a group of neurodivergent planners trying to encourage neurodiversity in the industry. And by doing this, we're actually empowering people with neuro divergence. We also want to encourage town planners of all kinds, to consider their impact on different types of minds on how they design and how they engage. planners should be automatically interested with neurodiversity, because we're concerned with people and all people on neuro diverse learning does not have a neutral impact. Now this quote resonated really well with me in one of my lectures in the Don't underestimate your role. A group has three clear prongs one is about working and encouraging neurodiverse talent, and the other is influencing the planning industry in the practice with design and engagement. Now my other speakers have been speaking about those two. So I'm going to go a little bit more about workplace working and acceptance. But you didn't think you were coming to an equality of course, but sorry about it. equality in the workplace usually means your fairness, having equal opportunities, and it's usually referred to in a legal framework. Diversity is the fact of many different kinds of people being included. And inclusion is to make someone feel part of the whole, so you feel valued. You feel like you can raise issues and you can turn up as your whole self. We need all three working perfectly so they can be achieved successfully. Just to go into it, the equalities act, usually quite complicated. The GMB actually did this fantastic simple guide if you ever need to use it. It's us protections. So although most neurodivergent Well, not all neurodivergent workers will identify as disabled themselves, they have the right to under the Act will probably meet the definition. So you're provided with rights to adjustment and protection from discrimination. The government's duty actually states that a disability can be developmental and in tribunal's. All of the neurodivergent conditions have been accepted as a disability. So we have this protection, the legal framework and equalities is rising up the agenda massively. However, 74% of neurodivergent people don't disclose their neuro divergence. In fact, the older you get, the less likely you are to disclose. 65% of organizations don't have accessible online applications. 61% of organizations don't know how to cater to neurodivergent people in interviews. 74% of employers say they lack general understanding needed to cater 90% of organizations either don't or don't know if they consider neurodiversity while managing people. And 22% of employees in the UK agreed with a statement that their colleagues would reject others for being different. Oh, in a minute, doesn't sound like a lot. That's like over one in five. People will say their colleagues would reject someone just if they were different. So when you want to be perceived as leadership, employee material, do you suppress your diversity? Or do you embrace it?

Unknown Speaker 33:37

52% of UK based employees say they changed aspects of their personality at work to appear more professional. This is shocking to me. Because although we have the equalities framework, we clearly are getting inclusion wrong. neurodiversity is a strength. It's been described as the superpower fueling creativity and innovation. People were born to think differently. evolution has made it this way. And alternative thinking styles are fantastic. Economic proof, neurodiversity is good for growth. And also we have a huge untapped talent pool. According to the National autistic society. 16% of autistic adults are currently in work, but 77% want to work. So this has got to change. Now I'm going to say roughly, and basically how we can support people, because we can all do more. To support neuro diversity and inclusion. Start by learning. Listen to and learn from people's stories. Don't stereotype don't ashame and most importantly, ask questions. Talk about your different working styles. Notice your strengths, your challenges, get to know your team, remember the positive assessment, and it'll be really useful. Design inclusive environments now the senses of vital for inclusion offer flexibility, make places legible communicate Directly says your message clear. offer a variety of formats. And most importantly, I think is don't judge if someone looks away or they don't shake your hand, even if you automatically judge things yourself. Why did I just do that? But try your best not to label someone provide accommodations. Now when I say this, don't think, Okay, well, where's your diagnosis? If someone says I would probably work better with headphones in the chances are, they would probably work better with headphones in, try new things allow enough time and focus on results. Explore strategies offer support, be an ally, address conflict, respect different points of view, rethink assessment and recruitment. Now I could talk for 20 minutes just about assessment and recruitment currently. But just note, reduce surprises. Be specific, and remember that your traditional assessment might not work. And lastly, we need to collaborate, discuss what inclusion means look inward, First, find out what people think and what people want. And when you put policies in place, building feedback, and evaluation. Diversity of all kinds contributes to creativity, innovation, competitiveness, and the greater diversity of your staff. The more unique perspectives you can bring to any problem, like to finish with a couple of quotes. So a quality is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance. And the more perspectives you have around the table, the more you can see. I hope this was really useful for everybody. I'd like to thank you all, again, for listening. And to join neurodiversity in planning, you can scan the QR code, or you can find us on LinkedIn. Thank you very much.

Unknown Speaker 36:45

Brilliant. Thank you, Haley. So next, we'll just hand over to Karla. Good morning.

Unknown Speaker 36:54

Thank you for inviting me to present our work. And I hope we can collaborate and future. I represent City and Regional Planning program at Knowlton School of Architecture, Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. And our focus was more on one part of neurodiversity autism. And we started with like incrementally, we started incremental and focusing on this particular nature, diversity representation out ism. Because we got interest in that the client came to our program and talk about this issue and how we can as planners think about neurodiversity in particular autism. And our team now represents my department head, Dr. Jennifer Clark, my principal investigator and my mentor and advisor, Kyle is Owl and my advisor, my dissertation, Jason Reese, Bernadette homeloan. She's also working on advocacy and planning. We started to do our work from Lauren and what our days is, so me and my students and my professors. When we in the way they were we heard something about autism, but we will not specialist. So we approach this topic, we invite a specialist we invited people who wanted to talk who are on the spectrum wanted to talk to us to learn from them. And the more we are at, the more we understand and realize that this inclusion, inclusion of people who are out who are on our spectrum is very important in our practices. So our our work was focusing on gauging perspectives of adults with autism or an urban environment and we looked at three main topics transportation, housing and recreation. And when we finish this work, we published our research in American form American Planning Association. American Planning Association is kind of similar of organization that now hosts this webinar, Royal Town Planning Institute. And I hope we can collaborate both of these organizations. So we we are My team and students and my professors, we contributed to this new ideas. And we published our research what we did how we did it in our, and our magazine planning magazine that practicing planners read and learn new things. And the article was focusing on how we include adults without is into the planning process. And main, like, you know, like main idea that we wanted planners to know and to hear it's is learning to plan with people without is not for them. And we keep that in our mind that is we are doing it together with them. So we, we published our research on that inclusion, how we did that how we had design charrette, where adults with autism are present and more collaborating. We also had focus groups with adults with autism, discussing those issues and recording what they said analyzing that, and the result of that work that we did. We came up with this feelings framework. And I think you can request to the materials after this webinar, there will be access and links to the work that we did. And now my dissertation focusing more on decision making process and how we can make in how we can make planning process more inclusive for NATO, NATO diverse population.

Unknown Speaker 41:58

So the parts that Professor Nick was talking about actual environment, gauging information when your test and experiment and getting feedback from the people learn how they interact with a space. And our approach is now to see how we actually make decision as planners. So we would have like transportation meetings, we have open houses, town hall meetings focus group, we have several ways. It's all different Tools of Engagement. And now we are doing research, figuring out what practices we're having now and how we can make those practices more inclusive, later diverse population. And I think that's a great, I think, and I am so happy that we have this webinar now that we can collaborate on those topics. And my students were when when i when i was joining this webinar, my students were texting me saying that they couldn't log in because the places like the webinars already packed, and they want to know what we were talking about. And they want to be part of that and want to join this work. And I see the interest in planning community here and among my students that they want to be part of this, this change. So this is all I wanted to say present our work to highlight what my students my professors are doing at Northern School of Architecture. And I would, I would like to have more time for people to ask questions. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 44:02

Brilliant. Thank you, Carla. for that. I'm just conscious of time. So we'll have Superman's next. And then what I'll try and do is wrap up. And we've got a number of questions, but I'm going to seek to basically put them into a few clusters just so that we can get through them and hopefully get the polls done. So yeah. abtc thinks thanks

Unknown Speaker 44:25

so much later, and I'll keep it really short and it's it's absolutely fantastic that the neuro diversity in planning network has getting going and it's really helpful the explanation in the background that Keeley provided in terms of what your diversity is and what it means. And just the research indicating that 15 to 20% of us are neuro diverse. So this is not an insignificant minority. This is something that's really important. And as planners, we need to embrace your diversity as a professional. We need to think about how it impacts on the design of our places and spaces and about how it affects the way we engage With neurodiverse people, as planners, we tend to focus on the visual aspects of places and spaces. But as Nick can gala outline, it is so much more. It's all about our senses and about the way we interpret that. So huge thank you to all three speakers. And I also want to say that both way Yang, who will be president in 2021, and Victoria hills would absolutely love to have been here in person today, but they will be watching it on catch up, as I'm sure many people will be watching on the YouTubes. so fantastic. Congratulations on getting the network going. And I'll hand back to Lila for questions.

Unknown Speaker 45:38

Thanks so many thanks for that. What I'll do is in the interest of time, we'll start with our questions. And hopefully, we'll have a little bit of spare time to run the poll. But the first one, I think this is for Nick and Garner, is basically bearing in mind, the contest that we've got with COVID. What lessons are there that we think we can learn from the pandemic and changing the ways that we work and design places taken into consideration, neurodiversity? We've got fourth speaker, I don't know if your mics on, I

Unknown Speaker 46:16

think I can, I can make a start to that. I mean, the first thing to say but my friend and I, we've been thinking about this. The The first thing to say about the COVID thing is that we know very little about COVID. And one of the things that has become evident over the last few months is that it is very much an airborne phenomenon. And that that gives us implications for how far apart it's it's a good idea to be from people, but also for how much time and one of the things is becoming more and more apparent is that it isn't just a question of physical distancing, because for me, one of the big problems is the separation of physical distancing, which in theory want to be bigger. And social distancing, which in theory, we want to be smaller, we want to be connected with people, that somehow or other we have to manage this. And so understanding those distances is really important. And we're not there yet. So the two meters or whatever it is, is just a guess. And there is no real basis for it being two meters or five meters or anything else at this at this point. But what is important is the length of time that you're in, so you can be closer to people for shorter periods of time than in for longer periods of time. And I think we as planners, and designers need to understand that, actually, we need to sort of engage much more in how do we create moments when people can engage with each other within the planned environment? And how do we create that? And what are the characteristics that would make that easier or harder, and we can work with that. Hence, my comments about benches, for example.

Unknown Speaker 48:05

I would like to comment on COVID and actual environment, how we do things. And I talk with practicing planners. And now they they comment on that how engagement process change, everything moved online. And now we start to realize everything became online before we would like 10 years ago. planners were so excited that they can use the rules of engagement. That would be online tools and engagement websites, GIS maps, storytelling, you have Facebook, you have social media, you can interact. And we were all excited about that, even though we will do in town hall meetings, regular face to face interactions. Now, because of COVID. We moved everything online, and it became so difficult. And now I'm talking to practice and planners and they said golla it's so much work. It's like the work that goes on. They also have information overload. There is certain things that we need to modify how we do online communication and engagement. Because people some of the people feel overwhelmed. They they feel that they work more than they used to work, engagement change and our attitudes change how we conduct meetings. Maybe we should modify how even we have lectures. Maybe it's too much staring at your face on the screen, you know, like some of my professor for example, would have zoom studio with students and students will have all the names on the screen. So that you're like actually sitting in the room talking to yourself, and it can be very draining and tiring. So all of this engagement techniques that include include online interaction has to be modified. And we learned, learn from this experience. And we should use Nether narrows the diverse community input, how they deal with that, how they are sensory overload, how they are informational overloaded, and how we can make it more inclusive, and more effective in terms of communication.

Unknown Speaker 50:40

Thanks, God, I think a lot of us can actually agree that we've had an information overload at various points during the lockdown. And the next question that we've got, is, I think more for Sue. And for Kelly, just do you think? Or do you have any advice or tips or pointers for neurodiverse planners coming into the industry? And also, I think, as a follow up to that, which builds quite nicely on to what Katie was touching on is, what are the recruitment processes or assessments that we could be carrying out our interview stage, which would help be more inclusive to neurodiversity?

Unknown Speaker 51:16

Absolutely. So first question. Hang on, can you redo the questions? My brain just didn't load that then?

Unknown Speaker 51:24

The first one. Sorry, was Do you have any new plans coming into the industry?

Unknown Speaker 51:30

made? Sure I get that completely. Right. So I've just come in to plan in, say, about two years ago, and I didn't have any diagnosis. So although I knew what was helped me, I found it quite tricky to get anywhere with it. So you need to meet a certain threshold to access support, I think it's the case of most black workplaces, definitely. And then when I found that I've got this diagnosis, then I could sort of get more adjustments based on that. So I think what would be really helpful is if we move to a more inclusive process, if someone says, you know, I'd probably benefit from having a bigger screen, they probably would. And we focus more on the results. Rather than asking for or waiting for that bit of paper. It's not someone being difficult, because as soon as someone listens to you, I feel like you feel a lot more validated, and you're not going mad, and you feel a lot more welcome. And you can bring your full potential, it's something as simple as headphones can make you an average to a brilliant worker. And then from, then, I'd say, reduce the amount of surprises. So if there's one interviewer, and you turn up with two, that really throw someone off pre written questions, maybe phone interviews, I know I find difficult, some people would prefer them. I can't speak on behalf of every single person is different. But there are certain adaptations that we can make. So it is a case of communicate clearly be inclusive. Think about people. And don't be judgmental, if someone doesn't shake your hand, or they don't make eye contact. I know my eyes are crazy. And that's, we can say that's a dyspraxia thing. Because it's quite difficult to stay engaged. Be very open minded, and try new things out. And if it doesn't work, then that's all that's happened, the world hasn't ended. It just hasn't worked by him, and you try something else the next time. So that'd be my advice. And if you are a neurodivergent planner, just starting out, keep it up, and turn up as yourself. Don't change yourself. Don't try and be something or not, because you'll never be successful. If you do that. If you show up as yourself, you're more than good enough, just because you're different than someone else. Just keep it going, you'll bring something new.

Unknown Speaker 53:53

And thanks so much. kalea. I think that might from my perspective, I'd say that everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. And teams are made up of people with those differences. If everyone in a team is exactly the same, then it's not as productive because you're not having that different way of thinking. And I know it's anecdotal, but I was once told that if you look at the architecture, the planning professions, then actually we do have particularly more dyslexic people because of the spatial thinking that goes with dyslexia. So there are some neuro diverse people who are actually wanting the profession, but it is about strong teams are diverse teams, echo chamber teams where everyone's the same are not. And in terms of adaptations, what's good practice for one group is actually often good practice for everyone. Because whether you're neurodiverse or not, knowing what's going to happen in an interview actually helps all of us to actually keep that sort of stress level under control.

Unknown Speaker 54:55

And I've just got one more thing to throw in. I think planning by nature is one of the most diverse kinds of work anyway, because we've got geography, we need creative thinkers, we've got designers, we've got spreadsheets, we've got public speaking, report writing, creative visionary writing, we've got it all. So you need to have a big skill set. And you're by nature, your teams will be a lot more diverse. I think that's brilliant. You can bring that in. And then

Unknown Speaker 55:24

Sorry, can anyone think of any specific sectors that are more advanced in their response? generic diversity? That's a great question we've had asked

Unknown Speaker 55:37

to that's I noticed that the there's just been the launch of neurodiversity in law. So they're actually recognizing that there's a need for a similar network to the one that we're, you know, has been launched today for neurodiversity and planning. And that's actually by recognizing that this difference, and the different strengths are so important. So I think it is starting people starting to talk about it. And that's really good. And it's not about hiding under the carpet anymore in it. For us. It isn't just about the profession. It's about the impact that the decisions that we take, as a profession will have on the whole of society. And that's absolutely critical that we therefore embrace it, both internally and in everything that we do.

Unknown Speaker 56:25

Perfect. Well, I'm just mindful of the time. So what I'll do is send through any of the unanswered questions directly to our speakers, and they can contact all the attendees after the webinar, before we close out. We're hoping to run for polls. So I think I'll just wait to see if Lucy is able to bring those up for us, because we'd like to gauge how familiar the attendees are with neurodiversity. So our first question here was just Have you heard about neurodiversity prior to this webinar? So if everybody could just spend the 20 seconds to give us their answers, please. I'm hoping that it's working for everybody. And then we're back. So we've got 66% of people said yes. And then 34 said, No. Okay, that's really interesting. After these polls, we're hoping to basically follow up with some material from the webinar just to help everybody, recap. So can we have our next poll question, please. You see, that one was, have you heard about sensory overload? I know that Nick and Garner both touched on this, but we'd be interested to know if anyone heard about it prior to today. Oh, okay. Well, everybody, pretty much everybody that's positive. And we'll scoot on to our next poll. Which is, do you think sensory overload and information overload have relation to your planning and design practice?

Unknown Speaker 58:26

Interesting to see what everyone thinks him? Oh, that's really positive. But 90% of people answering yes. And 10% saying no. So our final poll

Unknown Speaker 58:56

is, have you talked about neuro diversity in your workplace in the last year. So this will be particularly helpful with the upcoming initiatives that we've got for 2021. So I think kind of feeding back on what Kayla was mentioning. 26% of people have said yes, and 74% of people have said no. So that quite that ties in quite nicely with our upcoming initiatives. And oh, bang on 130 I just like to say thank you very much to everybody for attending. As I mentioned before, all of the handouts are available in PDF forms, if not a more accessible version, if you just contact us or download them from your control panel on the right hand side, and we'll be During a follow up recap just to assess how people have found this webinar, but I hope that has been informative. I hope everybody's learned something and enjoyed it. And please don't hesitate to contact us at our dedicated email address and do join the LinkedIn group because we're growing quite rapidly. Thank you very much, everybody. Thanks, everyone. Thank you. Hi.

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