Neurodiversity Week at Chinese International School

This academic year saw Chinese International School (Hong Kong) celebrate its first Neurodiversity Week! While we have certainly seen an increase of awareness around neurodiversity on our newsfeeds, the important thing for us was to make it contextual and relevant for our school’s unique context and mission. Being a bilingual school, it was important that we made our information accessible to all members of our community, and that the message was communicated by all teachers. 

Primary school teachers talked about what neurodiversity is, and our responsibility as global citizens to be inclusive while still making space to ask those respectful ‘curiosity’ questions. Knowing how busy our teachers are, our Student Support Services Team created a padlet of resources and activities for teachers to access at their leisure, and made themselves available to support these conversations in the classroom, together with the homeroom teachers. 

We talked about how we all need different things to be successful, that we all ‘bloom’ in our own time, and that these differences are important in the ‘bouquet’ that is our classroom. 

In secondary, our middle school students looked at role models we hadn’t previously known had neurodivergent profiles. We talked about not only how they overcome their challenges, but how these differences actually supported them in achieving their goals – as scientists, performers, and inventors. These conversations aimed to remove stigma around how we talk about differences. When we reframe our thinking about what makes us different, we realise that it is these differences that make us more unique as a classmate, friend, and community member.

Lastly, for our parent community, we invited a number of our community partners – psychologists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, counsellors – to join our parent and student voices on a panel to discuss what neurodiversity looks like here at CIS. As we continue to shape our schools and communities to become more inclusive places, it is important that we include the voices of all stakeholders as we build our future. We are so fortunate to have so many individuals who do this, not just as their job, but as their life’s mission. 

The work is not done yet! While Neurodiversity Week has been and gone, we continue to hear the impact of the small actions that each member of our community has made during and since that time:

  • parents who have connected and found each other to share resources, stories, support
  • teachers who make small tweaks in the way that they structure their classroom environment, as well as their programmes 
  • students who understand themselves better, and go about their day with more confidence in who they are

Let us continue.