Hihi TPU Backers
Please read our latest update and if you feel called to, consider continuing to support improved outcomes and equity for neurodivergent children, young people and individuals through Complex Strengths
We want to turn things around for our neurodivergent children. Are you part of our tribe? A young person struggling at school, a parent dreading phone calls and emails, or a teacher counting the weeks till the end of the year? We know how you feel, and how frustrating and damaging that experience can be.
You can join TPU here
The planned impacts of The Painted Umbrella will be:
- A solid move away from ‘negative’ interpretation of neurodivergent profiles such as ADHD, autism, and dyslexia, and negative labeling of our neurodivergent children, young people and their families within our communities and educational provision (such as lazy, poorly raised, naughty) through accurate understanding of neurological differences, their value and their 'different operating system'.
- Practical and easy to implement strengths-based strategies, that support the educational progress and mental health and well-being of all neurotypes, being adopted in classrooms and families nationwide
- A colourful conversation and thread connecting families and teachers to the array of good works, businesses, services and provision in the UK that can support them.
- An artistic and creative connection to amazing work and futures for our young Neurodivergent Beans; to add to the tech, science and engineering worlds already beginning to clamour for neurodivergent talent.
Hi! My name is Julia, I am a neurodivergent (ADHD+) mum of two neurodivergent/not-so-typical sons. I am an artist, and children's entertainer, and also a neurodiversity mentor, educator and trainer at Complex Strengths. I have about 30 years experience specialising in ‘behaviours that challenge’ both professionally and personally.
So what is TPU/The Painted Umbrella??
A massive, vibrant, colourful idea!
There’s a lot of information on this page! So here’s a quick-scroll guide:
further down the page you will find:
- WHY is TPU needed? More about the SEN struggles we are currently facing in the UK.
- HOW will it work? Some more details about how The Painted Umbrella plans to help, and how we will use the money from this campaign (which could include your money!)
- WHAT will we be sharing? Examples of resources we have available already, can be pre-booked, and some of the rewards you can choose with your pledge!
- Meet some of the team! A few of the training design team and Board.
- WHO else? Details of some of the 'heroes on the scene' already working hard to support and achieve the Neurodiversity Paradigm Shift, that we are beginning to collaborate with.
Neurodiversity is a new term for many people, so:
the range of differences in individual brain function, neurology, and behavioural traits, regarded as part of essential variation in the human population.
The Neurodiversity Paradigm affirms that all neurological differences/divergence such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, are a healthy and valuable contribution to human cultural and biological diversity.
WHY is TPU needed?
A bit more about the SEN struggles we are currently facing in the UK:
Currently in the UK, it is very clear that our neurodivergent children and young people, their families, their teachers, SENCOs and schools are fighting an incredibly hard battle and they’ve a long way to go before it gets easy.
A lot of these struggles pivot around behavioural ‘challenges’, as well as effective learning support and making reasonable adjustments.
No words on this page, or in the reports below, can convey the daily stress and heart-break experienced by SEN families. Or the frustration and disquieting sense of horror and hopelessness that teachers and SENCOs feel while trying to do their best in the classroom as a school placement breaks down.
The struggles faced by our SEN provision are strongly due to lack of much needed funding but also, and more simple to fix, very much due to missing knowledge about how neurodivergent, and anxious brains work.
We all understand that children need boundaries and clear guidance to feel safe enough to settle down and learn. However, a lot of our common sense assumptions about how to make a child emotionally safe are mistaken.
Doubly so for neurodivergent and spectrum children. A lot of the research on neurodivergent brains and anxiety is relatively new; within the last 20 years.
New information takes a long time to filter in to mainstream. Often their are decades between researched insights and regular implementation, but childhoods, families and futures are being affected now.
Powerful, important potential for all our futures is going to waste, or worse being crushed, in a system desperately trying but failing to keep up with the research.
Cultural shifts in perspective are hard to achieve. Political, educational, societal, family and personal motivation is required.
We now have the medical evidence of neurological differences. We have come to understand that the differences between neurodivergent minds and neurotypical minds often create a misinterpretation of motives during communication.
This is due to the different brains types holding very different, equally valid, processing systems.
Historically neurodivergent individuals not fitting so easily into neurotypical systems and lifestyles have simply been labeled as having been raised poorly, being lazy/naughty/disordered/deficient. Added to that, traditional behaviour management strategies frequently worsen the situation when applied to neurodivergent individuals as their neurological responses differ resulting in physiological stress.
Long term outcomes for someone neurodivergent are also unfairly worse, including impacts on earnings, relationships, health, mental health, higher risk of imprisonment, and shorter life expectancy.
This issue isn't just about a 'happy childhood' . Undiagnosed and poorly supported ADHD results in a reduced life span by an estimated 15 years and has a risk of premature death 1.5 to 8 times greater than neurotypical individuals.
A lot of these negative outcomes begin during school and the breakdown of a child's educational life.
This February 2020 debate in The House of Commons:
revealed that, of our alarmingly rapidly increasing school exclusion rates, 50% of children being excluded have SENeeds, while the percentage of our Young People WITH SENeeds is officially around 14.5% which in itself reveals our SEN children are discriminated against within our current educational paradigm and system.
Vulnerable, disabled children are being restrained and secluded in schools
And this January 2019 report shares family carers’ shocking accounts of their children’s experiences of restrictive intervention:
HOW will The Painted Umbrella help and function?
Some more details about: how The Painted Umbrella plans to help, and how we will use the money from this campaign:
Our key aim is the most colourful one! In two steps:
The Painted Umbrella Neurodiversity Champions will take fun (sometimes hilarious!) and engaging workshops, talks and activities into schools and other establishments to promote the Neurodiversity Paradigm. In ways that are easily accessible to children and informative enough for staff to benefit as well!
Sharing the latest information and guidance available, supplying engaging informative resources supplied by experts in the field, and passing on experience from neurodivergent individuals and those in their lives.
- Step One:
Humility and an open mind are the first essential steps to learning, and that requires a space of safety and non-judgement to be truly present.
The Painted Umbrella Neurodiversity Champions promote:
Understanding and celebration of the strengths of children, neurodivergent brain types, families and teachers; including any challenges that come up!
Sharing compassionate, accurate information that helps all children and young people feel good about themselves and have a sense of their own power, values, and unquestionable worth. Especially our neurodivergent young ones <3
- Step two:
Once everyone is 'safer', celebrating, and ready for learning, then the fastest, most effective way to learn and have that learning 'stick' is to learn while having fun!!
Our Champions will offer and bring with them a carousel of fun educational activities, worksheets, models, engaging talks, slideshows, art activities and interactive experiences. Supporting resources will also be left for further exploration and conversation starting at the school
Our second key aim:
There are foundations, charities, businesses, families and individuals already working toward the UK embracing better understanding and attitudes to both SENeeds and the neurodiversity paradigm. Progress is gradual for everyone and we plan to help speed things along and increase everyone's reach!
So, this one of our three key aims is to strengthen and create network connections, and do our noisy colourful bit to raise an awareness of all the amazing work, services, resources, individuals and groups available.
We will be happy when your plumber, local grocer and hairdresser are all part of a Neurodiversity Informed and Positive community.
To get to the stage that every SEN family, struggling teacher and SENCO, know they are supported, and how they are supported.
Our third and last key aim:
Similar models have worked well, such as Dementia Friends, and are run by volunteers. Although our Willing Neurodiversity Champions have indicated willingness to volunteer 50% of the time, we want our Neurodiversity Champions to be paid for running their workshops.
There are 3 main reasons for this:
1. Most work usually is paid for, so important, caring, supportive, society improving work should definitely be valued highly and paid for.
2. We would like as many of our Neurodiversity Champions as possible to be neurodivergent themselves, to tell some of their story, so being paid for talks and running workshops is doubly important.
'Asking people who are disadvantaged by a system to contribute to fixing that system feels logical. Who else would have more experience of the issues? The problem is that we are often turning to people who have been made more vulnerable, more emotionally stressed, statistically more likely to be in poverty/unemployed, and then asking them for their contribution on a voluntary basis and offering nothing tangible in return.'
Edward Walden. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director
3. And finally: Performers, artists, face painters, entertainers, balloon twisters etc...
who will be many of our Champions, are already asked nearly every week of the year to donate their services for free, and have to work for free essentially to keep answering these requests as well!
What rewards can your funding for helping us get solidly off the ground!
*Examples of large poster educational resources.
The Painted Umbrella will be a business, once it's up and running it will make it's own money as it grows.
- After our Champions receive their free training, the workshops, talks and activities they run will be paid for by schools, clubs , businesses and groups.
- The Painted Umbrella will also be offering very affordable resources which are being contributed by individuals, businesses and experts in the field of neurodiversity.
- Educational posters, booklets, games, lesson plans .pdf files and videos for example. These resources will be available to purchase and download online, ordered printed and posted, or delivered into schools by our Champions.
- TPU is also collaborating on affiliate relationships with neurodivergent artists and neurodivergent supporting services, and will offer a range of items that promote The Painted Umbrella and its values to generate additional income.
- If there are additional funders wishing to support TPU aims we will accept funds that would help us reach our goals and increase our reach and impact more rapidly.
Images of our rewards, including educational resources, mugs, T-shirts and art prints can be found in our TPU facebook group album here we're sorry but ALL physical rewards are UK delivery only.
If we reach our target of £25,750 it will be used to:
Due to the impact of Covid-19 we are aiming our sights lower financially at the moment, but this is still the outline of how we will use funds in the long term:
* Pay for any material rewards that have been pledged on, and Crowdfunder fees.
* Fund the free training to the first Neurodiversity Champions
* ensure living wage to Champions for the hours they are championing in schools/colleges/clubs etc...
* ensure living wage for the administration of The Painted Umbrella
* Pay for materials for workshops
If there is any left over it will be put to:
* Subsidise services to local family support groups and small clubs that cannot afford to pay
At a squeeze the funds should ensure the first 120 visits to schools and a year of part-time administration wages.
We commit to sustainable and accessible practices, and ensuring a minimum of living wage and a maximum of median wage for any wages paid.
Meet the TPU team (well a few of them!)
From left to right:
Hi! I am a Mother of neurodiverse children, and have lodged 5 first tier tribunal appeals & fought fiercely for understanding and support. As well as being a parent I am a therapeutic counsellor, with adhd, specialising in adhd at ADHD Positive.
I am Passionate about inclusion.
Shelley is a parent of a child diagnosed with adhd and also works in mainstream education, mainly supporting neurodiverse pupils. Shelley is also a certified Sanity School trainer at Complex Connexions.
‘I am passionate about promoting awareness of neurodiversity and breaking down barriers by informing and educating children, parents and teachers and helping people to see each other’s strengths.’
Edward has a background working in the third sector, primarily as a Training Officer. Currently his role focuses on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, digital transformation, and also data and impact measurement at Power To Change.
So far, we have a team of around 10 people to design training and materials.
Some of this team are individuals and some are like minded businesses donating resources and helping with input into training design.
Among others making up the training design team, we have specialists in neurodivergent minds (ADHD, ADD, ODD, PDA, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, Irlen syndrome), specialists in child and adolescent mental health and well-being, and a trauma specialist, several of our training design team are neurodivergent adults and young people, parents of neurodivergent children, teachers and educational staff, and people with experience of designing parenting workshops.
Tedx Talker, Parenting Columnist, Certified Parent and Youth Educator and Appreciative Inquiry Coach, Trainer and Public Speaker at Stronger Relationships, Andrea Rippon is one of our training team contributors.
Some of the TPU training team are also becoming Directors of The Painted Umbrella as we incorporate as a CIC. (Community Interest Company) limited by guarantee. Which is a legal form of Social Enterprise Business to ensure that all your donations are funding a not-for-profit only interested in working for societal improvement.
We will be using sociocratic / dynamic governance and are expecting to incorporate with a board of 10-12 directors.
From left to right:
Emma will be our Financial Director.
AAT and ACCA part qualified, Emma is an Accounts and Finance Manager and has been working for the last 6 years at Class Of Their Own (a wrap around childcare provider) regularly working with local schools and families.
Elinor Clare Rowland
Elinor is A neurodivergent artist and art psychotherapist with over 15 years experience in Disability Services worldwide. She is founder of Magical Women, a collective and platform that champions the autistic/ADHD feminine expression and voice. Elinor is also an artist who creates empowering spaces for neurodivergent artists and creatives, removing the risk present in neurotypical situations at Scratch hub Battersea Arts Centre.
I am Level 7 Specialist Dyslexia Assessor/ Tutor with 15+ years of supporting children , young people and adults to access high quality learning and social support for the range of Neurodiversity conditions.
I have successfully developed a BDA, Local Dyslexia Association voluntary group based in York (www.yadda.org.uk) and started a professional dyslexia screening and assessment service in 2017 (www.dssy.co,uk) that now works with schools, colleges, universities and the workplace to offer training, solution focused assessments, IAG on The Equality act 2010 and its implication for employers.
In addition to the team members here, the planned Board of Directors includes:
- A large proportion of neurodivergent individuals, and a diverse range of skills!
- Parents, educational staff, artists and performers
- A welfare rights adviser, who is a single parent bold and wise enough to take the DWP to court
- A creative arts counsellor who was previously a teacher and deputy head of a Montessori school for over 10 years
- A Social Worker who specialises in supporting individuals and families affected by ADHD.
And we are looking for 2 neurodivergent Young People aged between 16 and 18.
So that's us!
Who else are we planning to work with?
We want to use this space to point to a few of the heroes, change-makers and inspirational companies already out on the SEN field that we are already looking forward to/ enjoying working with:
We-Q at it's best!
The Embracing Complexity Coalition , looks like a new kid on the block only launching in May 2019 but has 52 member organisations, including ADHD Foundation (est. 2007) and Autistica (est. 2004), who all want to work together.
As a coalition they co-ordinate campaigning and research for people with neurodevelopmental conditions.
The Embracing Complexity Coalition have produced two reports so far;
their first, for their launch in May 2019, is based on a survey of 500 people with NDCs and families and highlights the barriers this group faces in diagnosis, services and research.
Their second report, Embracing Complexity in Diagnosis, was published in October 2019 and explores various local services offering multi-neurodevelopmental diagnostic assessments.
Both of these are available on their website, embracingcomplexity.org.uk.
Jannine Harris specialist teacher, coach and public speaker offering advocacy, talks and school assemblies. ADHD Wise is fighting for schools to take up training, whilst picking up the pieces as schools exclude instead of include students.
Yvonne Newbold If you need support with SEN linked violent behaviours this is a highly recommended project with successful support groups and info:
Jess Cain offers functional, accessible, affordable services in support of families wading through the EHCP process. Open and supportive in messages and having a host of easy to follow guide videos on her SEND Family Instincts page makes Jess a great resource!
'Inside the bucket' thinking!
Do-IT Profiler is close to changing the face of the diagnostic process struggles we have in the UK.
Professor Amanda Kirby's focus is on the extra stress, cost and loss of time during the journey of trying to get the support and adjustments our young people need, as well as on how we then go on to fare as adults.
Do-IT Profiler is creating simple accurate tools to help short cut identifying challenges, and then keep refocusing our aims on skill development. This also answers, the problem of 'undiagnosable' challenges!
The app is simple and inexpensive to use and one for 7yrs - 16 yr olds to use is in the pipeline.
A quick share of Amanda's bucket explanation below. You can be a lot neurodivergent and it still not 'show' in the right ways to get support....
The more we all know, understand and celebrate neurodiversity though, the less that will matter.