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CDU changing the environment for neurodivergent students and staff with new partnership

Charles Darwin University (CDU) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Untapped Holdings to introduce new approaches to the teaching environment for neurodivergent students, teachers, and staff in the Northern Territory.

Untapped’s Neurodiversity Hub has created and curated resources and approaches to enhance the learning experience that can assist students and teachers who have variations in their cognition and comprehension, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia and autism.

CDU Lecturer in Education Dr Khyiah Angel said the MOU has the Hub’s partners sharing resources and knowledge about how to improve higher education outcomes for neurodivergent students.

“There is a lot of untapped potential amongst people who are neurodivergent,” Dr Angel said. “It’s the environment across tertiary education that makes it (neurodiversity) a disability with sensory overload and convoluted instructions.”

CDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Students and VET Sam Jacob welcomed the Neurodiversity Hub, as another measure that promoted diversity on campus and fosters an inclusive environment at CDU. “The Neurodiversity Hub boasts a new narrative by focusing on the strengths of people with ADHD and autism that promotes accessibility and inclusivity,” they said. “Our aim at CDU is to create an environment that promotes inclusion, equality and acceptance in our university community, so that all our students and staff can feel at home with us.”

Untapped Chief Executive Officer Andrew Eddy said classrooms often give neurodivergent people sensory overload, and it’s just another challenge for these students. “Just to be in the room takes a lot out of sensory sensitive people and they can become exhausted from the experience,” Mr Eddy said. “However, if you make changes to limit distraction to support these students then it would actually help every student.” Mr Eddy said that since it was established in early 2018, the Hub has grown rapidly across the globe, and he welcomed Charles Darwin University’s involvement in the program.

A new Sensory Space developed by CDU’s Access and Inclusion team at CDU’s Casuarina campus provides a safe and comforting environment for students living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD or other sensory disorders, or simply any student needing some time and calm.

(August 2022)

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