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March 26th 2024

Celebrating Neurodiversity

Raising an awareness of autism in Autism Awareness Assembly

Some of the most influential people throughout history and modern-day life have been autistic, including Albert Einstein, Jo Malone, the writer Holly Smale (‘Geek Girl’ series), and Mahlia Amatina, a prominent female artist. In celebration of these inspirational people, and to highlight World Autism Awareness Day, our SENCo Lead, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, delivered an assembly on developing awareness of what autism is, inspired by the voice of her pupils.  

The assembly focused on what autism means from our autistic pupils’ perspective. We explored the etymology of autism: the word ‘autism’ stems from two Greek words: ‘aut/autos’ meaning 'self’ and 'ism’, meaning a 'state of being’ - this autism is primarily ‘a state of being oneself’.  

Together we learnt about our students’ perceptions of autism; a Year 7 student drew a picture of her own experience of autism showcased below; another depicted her existing awareness of autism. The message conveyed by our autistic pupils at Blackheath High School is not to have a prejudged idea of what a person with autism looks like, or how they behave. There is a huge spectrum of variations for people with autism. In the words of one of the pupils: ‘everyone experiences autism differently’. 

During the assembly, we heard from a Year 8 pupil who described her experience of autism in an often overwhelming sensory world. Two Year 7s interviewed each other on what it means to have autism, which was at once inspirational and informative. They talked about the gift of synaesthesia which one of the pupils has, namely, the ability to experience more than one sense simultaneously. In this particular student’s case, she can see colourful shapes in her mind which is exemplified in her kaleidoscope of colours in the picture below. 

Autism Awareness article Picture 1

Another famous example of synaesthesia is Jo Malone who recalls: “I remember so vividly, I saw a [candy cane] and the colours were so vibrant, I could smell again.” 

Autism Awareness article Picture 3

A speech bubble drawing depicting autism from a neurotypical perspective. 

Autism Awareness article Picture 2

The work of the famous biologist Temple Grandin was also mentioned, in particular, her famous book ‘The Autistic Brain’. In her words, autism means being “different, not less”.

Autism Awareness article Picture 4

A picture of a painting by neurodivergent artist Mahlia Amatina’s painting, entitled “Bus Journey - The Starting Point”.  

Autism Awareness article Picture 6

The assembly ended with an autistic pupil’s book recommendation ‘Can You See Me: Expected to Fit in: Proud to Stand out’. 

Autism suggested reading

After the assembly, our Year 7 SEND pupils described, in art form, their increased awareness of autism. 

Autism Awareness article IMG 1483










Neurodiversity Art Competition 

To mark Neurodiversity Awareness Week, Academic Mentor Mrs Leigh ran an enlightening, creative and thought-provoking Neurodiversity Art Competition. 

The theme of the competition was to bring more awareness of different Neurodiverse conditions which make up the Neurodiversity umbrella - these include, Autism, ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia. Students were asked to pick one of the Neurodiverse conditions and produce an art piece which shows something about their chosen condition.  

There were some fabulous entries which have been interesting and eye-opening for myself and others who have seen them. Some of the artist statements which have accompanied the works offer an insight into how their conditions affects them on a daily basis, which is fascinating. 

Everyone who entered produced beautiful work, making the final decision extremely difficult. Although in my eyes every entry was a winning entry, there can only be one overall winner. Take a look at the winning entry by Orla in Year 10. Orla is neurodiverse, has been diagnosed with Dyslexia and identified as potentially having (inattentive) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

I am sure you will agree that this is a stunning and insightful piece of artwork. 

Neurodiversity Art competition Picture 3
















This is Orla’s artist statement about her 3D piece: 

“I am Orla (Year 10) and I live each day being Neurodiverse. I wanted to create a piece of work to highlight the ‘noise’ and ‘chaos’ I so often have in my head from ADHD. In this piece I tried to highlight the struggle between one minute feeling there’s a firework display of ideas and objects in your brain, and the challenges that brings to concentrate (Hyperactivity); to the slow-down from exhaustion of trying to harness and order those thoughts, making you feel slow and stupid (Inattentive). The use of vibrant colours and arrows reflects the loud noise and mess of thoughts, and the objects are the distractions. However, I also used bright colours to reflect the positive aspects of ADHD - that we can often think of several ideas and connect them in creative ways regardless of how unrelated they are. The monochrome head is to highlight that you will never know from looking at someone if they have ADHD, but around 4% of the population have.” 

We also had some other insightful pieces like the ones below. 

Neurodiversity Art competition Picture 2










An Autistic student, who would prefer not to share their name, produced this very insightful piece which refers to their experiences in school. Their artist statement gives a very vivid description of how a classroom setting can be experienced by someone who has autism.   

“This is what school looks like - a lot of figures all blurred together, all talking over one another. I know what they’re saying, but I can’t always comprehend what they mean. It’s all fussy. Faces merge together, I cannot tell what they’re saying either. If you see emotions in these eyes, you are misinterpreting my art - yes they look threatening, but is that what they’re trying to achieve? For all I know, they could be friendly eyes, but still they make me so uncomfortable. I used oil pastels to give a dreamy feel.  

Human interaction makes me feel tired, lights make me feel tired and certain noises make me feel tired. Tired like how some people feel after doing tonnes of maths homework. In the background everything is clear, in the foreground nothing makes sense, it’s all absurd, people are unpredictable, but maths follows logic and order.” 

Here is another insightful piece by Chloe, Year 11: 

Neurodiversity Art competition Picture 1

“This collage is what Attention Deficit Disorder means to me. I was diagnosed with ADD 2 years ago, and before my diagnosis I always thought there was something wrong with me, I was processing things slower than my peers and I could never stay focussed. I felt different. This collage represents how having ADD feels for me. The moving blur represents how time moves so fast and how I can’t catch up. I hope with this collage people can understand a little bit more of what ADD feels like.” 

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