Shows and conferences · Special Education

Where have all the girls gone?

A day of inspiration, information and calls to action

Image from Lydia Avalon

There are some events I must attend as part of CPD, professional certification or study, but this was one I wanted to attend for me: as an educator, as a parent, as a researcher and as someone who is perhpas not conventionally ‘wired’. I juggle a number of work and study commitments at the moment, tutoring, assessing, lecturing and research, and there are rarely enough days in the week, or hours in the day. I’m so glad I took time to join in this inspiring day.

The day began with an introduction by Professor Amanda Kirby. I’ve been lucky to attend training or hear her speak a few times now – if you’re not familiar with her work, do check it out here. The takeaways are:

  • neurodiversity and neurodivergent profiles do not exist in silos – if you have elements of one ‘defined’ condition, you are likely to have co-ocurring traits of at least one other, and
  • women and girls (and other individuals) may not present in the way that has been documented, i.e. not as recorded over the course of the 20th century, often by men and as a result of observing boys.

Our next speaker, Dr Joanna Martin, asked – and offererd answers to the question – Why are girls less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD? (Can you see a pattern emerging?) I found this fascinating on so many levels, not least as someone who works closely with university-age students as well as in my assessment work and as a parent. Once again, the message was clear: to properly understand the individual, we need to challenge traditional views of female behaviour, in education, in the workplace and in health and socal care.

Next came Professor Barry Carpenter, who shared a wealth of experience from a lifetime in education, focussing on girls and autistic spectum condition. Do check out the engagement model and the resources on the Engagement 4 Learning website. I’ll add links to some of his resource recommendations at the end of this blog when I get a moment.

Helen Needham (@me.decoded) shared her experience of ASC diagnosis and disclosure at work, taking us on a journey that was both moving and uplifting. Her employes have made great progress both supporting and embracing all that neurodiversity has to offer.

Nancy Doyle‘s journey from a less than perfect school experience to become the CEO of Genuis Within again resonanted on so many levels… As an educator, I feel it’s my responsibility to adapt and include; as a student I was (and perhaps still am) a misfit; as an assessor, I feel that a profile of strengths is essential to understanding any individual. And yes, as a parent, too. I’m often recommending adults check out Access to Work – Nancy reminded me how few people are aware of this service.

We met a formidable daughter and mother team who discussed experiences of education and proved that workplace inclusion is essential, possible and beneficial for all. This was my most uplifting moment of 2020 so far – thank you, Ellie and Pam!

Finally, we heard from Kelly Rowlands and Chalotte Dando of ACT training, about their inclusive approach to education. They shared facinating and at times concerning findings related to the interactions neurodivergent girls experience in mainstream schools compared with boys or their neurotypical peers.

The day was well worth finding time for, and I recommend all of the speakers, should you have the opportunity to attend events where they present in the future.

International Women’s Day 2020

One thought on “Where have all the girls gone?

  1. Fantastic read Sarah, I agree girls really do seem to slip through the net more so than boys. Such a massive gender gap in recognising these types of needs. The links were really helpful too.
    Thanks so much for posting !

    Liked by 1 person

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