Reasonable Adjustments (Neurodiversity)

With the rise of neuodiversity awareness in society these days we have seen a rise in cadets declaring neurodiverse conditions on their medical paperwork.

Does anyone have any examples of what a local unit has put in place to assit and accomodate those with neurodiverse conditions. The idea is that we can look into examples that other units have enacted and see if we could offer them and should future cadet A have that condition, we can say this is what we can do to help.

EDIT - I have looked into ACP 15, 29 and the AVIP package plus a bunch of other condition specific posters that I found on sharepoint.

We have overlays and coloured paper for anyone with visual stress and printouts for training sessions.


This question comes after a cadet attended a course and reasonable adjustments were some were put in place but not quite to the level that was needed casuing them to have an autistic shutdown and leaving day 1 earlier than everyone else. Day 2 was better once the DS were made aware and the adjustments were put in place effectively and they attended the full day with no issues and got a positive feedback from the DS staff.

There is some information in ACP 29, but more advise would be appreciated by all I think!

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One of our feeder schools is a school for those with… Neurodiversity…

It’s a challenge, one I personally am not very good at. Fully hold my hands up to that both on here and at unit. I’ve made some big mistakes and made some cadets unhappy. Mostly because it’s not something I fully understand and some people I know have made the point I might be on that side of the fence…

We’ve found that the military discipline and use of ranks when addressing people is very helpful. Fits the routine and authority ideals that the ones who come to us have.

The biggest thing we do is simply give them the time they need. If it takes them a while to come round to certain academic ideas such as with radio or first aid, that’s what we do.
Don’t make them feel stupid or slow, just take it nice and slowly and not worry about the time it takes.

I take quite a chill outlook on uniform issues and messing around, much unlike some uniformed CFAVs on my unit and I find that helps a bit more too. Putting people down over shoes or stuff they can’t sort there and then doesn’t do them any good. I’ll laugh and joke if something isn’t quite right and they’ll get it sorted by next week.

That’s my advice, just be chill, let them run their own race.

There is obviously better advice than mine, I’d be very welcome to see that also.

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I forgot to put into the original post.

I have looked at ACP 15 acp 29 plus 13 other condition specific posters.

It appears we are good at promoting it but I cant really find anything to say what people have done to put things in place.

The clue is on the question neuro diversity.

It’s a broad brush catchall label but covers off a very broad spectrum of things. And within each of them is a huge range of signs, symptoms, stressors and responses - what works for one young person may not work for another. And what works one week may not work the next - changes in medication, impact of puberty, product of experience and learning something better which works for them can all inform, tweak and adjust the adjustments themselves. For some young people it’s a case of ever moving goal posts.

My advice is open and honest dialogue with the young person and their parent. If you can - and parent/carer/young person and the school is willing - dialogue with the school may also help inform what adjustments they are already in receipt of. Having said that, some parents and young people are entirely clueless to the adjustments and subtle nuances made to help accomodate their needs!! For the students they sometimes are unaware of the additional support in place - for them it’s “their normal”. These plans have different names in different parts of the country - EHCP, Statements, IEPs, SAP etc.

The document alone without context can be a minefield for staff - largely untrained in the ways of SEND and education - to navigate. As such, a conversation to help interpret it can be helpful… If the school is willing!

However, remember we already have the young people in an entirely different context from school. It’s voluntary. Structured. More uniformed than school. And with that approach, we (as CFAV) often have a very different approach from school. I’ve heard from teaching staff many times “OMG - you did what with them at the weekend? How the hell did you get them to do that?”. And it’s because we come from a totally different angle.

Anyways. I’ll write up some potential adjustments over the next few days. But these are specific for individuals I’ve worked with. They may not work for all…

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I agree with your point, its specific to each person but alot of conditions have similar/overlapping characterisitics.

I have spoken to a few with neurodiverse conditions and a few have similar things in place such as the coloured paper and other ones for ADHD/ASD such as quiet spaces.

So I am sure things that work for some could work for others.

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I’m CCF, so our school always shares SEND information with us, including a cadet’s normal way of working in school, but I’ve had similar frustrations with another youth (music) thing I’m involved with: schools won’t talk to us, not even with parental permission at times. That frustrates me immensely (and is out of line with education policy, too, which is all about ‘multi-agency working’) - as long as parents are happy, we should be told how X or Y usually manages in school, what strategies have been successful, etc.

That doesn’t mean we can’t try a new approach - as stated above, sometimes in a different context, or with a different approach, we can get a better result!

Even with non CCF units the cadets medical history to an extent is shared.
If the parents are open and honest and declare it on the health form they have to fill out, then its there and should prompt conversation. Its just the issue of data protection and the amount of people who need to know. So if often makes it hard to help them due to having to keep the infomation to small circles.

Its a difficult position to be in with regards to cadet NCOs knowing something is off but us staff not being able to say its due to XYZ.

Maybe you should suggest an update to SMS to include details of how that persons learning can be helped.

For Cadets and CFAVs this isn’t something that would be classed as medical so could be shared more widely and would mean those with unique needs could be better catered for.

Helping someone to learn doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be neurodiverse either, could be they have other disabilities.

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I think this needs to be something picked up by ASPIRE. All the content I’ve seen from ASPIRE has been focused on LGBT related issues, which should be one strand of what ASPIRE offers, not the sole focus - which is how it feels. There’s zero point in having a group that focuses on promoting diversity and inclusion, if it only focuses on one area of diversity and inclusion; kind of defeats the point…

Input on neurodiversity would be very welcome. We’ve had a number of cadets with ASD over the years for example, and whilst we’ve done our best, some better guidance and support would be helpful.

It would be great to see a bit more engagement with the RAF on this, perhaps with someone like this chap: https://www.raf.mod.uk/news/articles/the-skys-the-limit-for-former-raf-air-cadet/

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The best advice I can give is to speak to parents and cadets and make it clear at joining that disclosing anything on a medical form doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be precluded from taking part in anything, but that if you know about it you can help make sure they are included.

We’ve had some real dinosaurs and idiots in our wing in the past complaining and giving people a hard time for being “difficult” on a camp, saying things like “I won’t take them again”. I reckon nearly all the issues can be avoided completely by good open communication.

For example, we’ve just had a new joined who is being assessed for ADHD. All I did was ask their mum “what techniques, strategies and tips work at school or work at home that you can share with us, to help support them whilst they’re here?”.

We had a parent who was excellent who, along with a TG23, sent a “cheat sheet” of how to support their child, things you might see and what that might mean, how to support them if they’re presenting in certain ways. It was amazing, and something I’ll remember for a long time.

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There’s a difference though between knowing about the cadet’s conditions, and knowing how those are usually managed in school. The latter isn’t always available.

If anyone wants to ask specific questions, feel free to DM me and I’d be very happy to try and help answer them. I’ve led some neurodiversity training locally, and spoken to the ASPIRE team about doing something a little more broadly.

It’s almost impossible to suggest blanket adjustments, even for specific conditions. Everyone with ADHD experiences it differently. Everyone with ASD experiences it differently. Comorbid conditions (e.g. ADHD and Autism, or ADHD and Dyscalculia) just complicates it further.

The only blanket advice that would actually work is to talk to the cadet about what they need. The majority of neurodiverse cadets I’ve spoken to recently have been very happy to talk about what they need, and often it’s just time, repetition, or for you to be understanding about “stupid” questions.

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:100:

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Can we also include CFAVs in any changes that are made? Late diagnosis of neuro diversity is on the increase but people even without a diagnosis do often know if they need some help to learn things. As a training organisation we need to train CFAVs to train cadets so it’s best we are as inclusive to the CFAV element as possible.

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