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MDX Neurodiversity Celebration Festival 2023

MDX Neurodiversity Celebration Festival

14 March 2023, 10:00 - 14:00

Grove Atrium, Hendon Campus

As part of the global Neurodiversity Celebration Week on 13-19 March 2023, Middlesex University hosted a dynamic and inclusive Neurodiversity Celebration Festival.

A huge thank you to everyone who took part in making MDX Neurodiversity Celebration Festival a resounding success. The festival provided an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the talents, strengths, and unique perspectives of the neurodivergent community. Through Chicken Shed performance, an invaluable interview with Ria Lina, 13+ stalls and activities, 7 online and in-person workshops and countless stimulating discussions, we all have been inspired and educated on the importance of embracing diversity and inclusion. A massive thank you to the staff and students who participated in the event by sharing their stories and experiences via recordings, videos and a podcast. By joining forces and collaborating, we are creating a neuro inclusive world.

The event was open to all – staff, students, local community and friends - and was free to attend. Whilst booking was not required and everyone was welcome to turn up on the day, there was a free prize draw for those who registered in advance. Prizes included noise-cancelling Bose QuietComfort headphones, ReMarkable 2 tablet, gym passes and more.

MDX Neurodivergent Community

Every neurodivergent individual has a unique pattern of strengths and challenges and no two people are the same, so we will all have different profiles

MDX student and staff profiles

Overcoming Life's Obstacles

Video edited by: Farah Mekawy

Filmed by: Marija & Farah

Dubai Campus

Watch the video in full screen

  • Guest Speaker: Ria Lina

We were delighted to have Ria Lina joining us for the event and was speaking as part of our brilliant lineup.

“Fearless, provocative and very funny, Ria Lina is a highly accomplished comedian, writer, actor and one of the hardest-working performers in the business. Ria is quickly becoming a household name, with regular primetime TV and radio appearances. It’s not only Ria’s comedy that’s highly intelligent, she also has a BSc in Experimental Pathology, an MSc in Forensic Science and a PhD in Virology under her belt. Ria is a truly unique talent, smashing stereotypes and making waves in the industry. A regular pundit on Sky News, BBC News, Times Radio and TalkRadio, Ria is in demand for both her scientific insight, confident delivery, and biting wit.” - Ria Lina Official Site

Neurodiversity podcast

Neurodiversity podcast with Emilie Edwards, Phil Barter and Nerea Fernandes

Listen to podcast
  • Webinar recordings

Dragon – Speech-to-Text technology

Webinar recording of the Dragon Software is, how it works and how it can make your essay writing easier. Use your voice to create and edit documents or emails, launch applications, open files, control your mouse, and more.

Glean – Notetaking technology

Webinar recording of how Glean can help you improve your grades, decrease your stress and ensure you capture all the important bits from your lectures, in person and virtual.

  • Resources

Counselling & Mental Health

  • We can help you understand what Mental Health support is available (both within MDX and outside) and coordinate your access to it.

Disability & Dyslexia Service

Neurodiversity - University Resources Pack

North London Regional Access Centre

  • NLRAC at Middlesex University is a Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) registered centre, offering Study Needs Assessments, advice, and support for disabled students in higher education

The Wonkhe Show

On this podcast: there are new numbers out on the size and shape of higher education providers - is the sector growing international PGT too quickly? Plus the robots are coming for our jobs and souls, and we mark neurodiversity celebration week. With Nicola Dandridge, Professor of Practice in Higher Education Policy at the University of Bristol, Joseph Cooper, Director of People and Culture at the University of East London, Debbie McVitty, Editor at Wonkhe and presented by Mark Leach, Editor in Chief at Wonkhe.

Listen to Wonkhe podcast

  • Programme

    • Talks and workshops

      10:15 - 10:45 Memorisation with drama activities

      Matthew will be facilitating his non-traditional thirty-minute acting workshop, which teaches about memorisation while doing drama activities.

      • Room: G104 (Grove Atrium)
      • Facilitator: Matthew Roze

      11:00 - 11:50 ADHD Educational workshop

      Attend this workshop to learn more about ADHD, how it can affect your learning and where to find support.

      • Room: G104 (Grove Atrium)
      • Facilitator: Gurinder Grewal, Senior SpLD Tutor

      11:30 - 12:00 Chickenshed Performance

      Chickenshed is bringing to the Festival an inspiring range of creative extracts from some of the work of Chickenshed students with all the pieces being led and or/created by students with neuro-diverse lived experiences. Extracts are from projects performed at Chickenshed Theatre, Outreach in schools, or both. The varied and impactful work reflects and embodies the spirit of neurodiverse positivity and barrier-breaking which is being celebrated at the Middlesex Festival itself. Chickenshed joins that celebration and hopes to amplify it through the inclusive work of its students.

      • Grove Atrium

      12:00 - 12:50 Conversation Starters

      • Room: G104 (Grove Atrium)
      • Facilitator: Alison Lam

      This workshop is a version of conversation starters collected on paper. The paper will be dipped into a porcelain slip that burns away once fired. The safety of revealing how it really feels to start conversations. Writing and mark making on calligraphy paper.

      13:00 - 14:00 Q&A with Ria Lina

      Ria Lina only realised she was autistic after someone told her at the end of a gig. This is your opportunity to join the debate and ask questions.

      • Grove Atrium
      • Facilitator: Prof Kurt Barling & Nerea Fernandes

      10:00 - 14:00 AS Mentoring Neurodiversity Drop-In Clinic

      AS Mentoring (ASM) partners with, and empowers, neurodivergent people in employment. ASM works with neurodivergent adults, employers, organisations and charities, offering a strengths-based, holistic approach when working together.

      Book your 30-minute virtual or in-person slot

      • Sessions can be held in person on the day or by Google Meets or Zoom video call, phone call, WhatsApp chat, or email, depending on your preference. Please state your preference when booking.
      • If you have specific accessibility requirements and would like to discuss these beforehand, please email georgia.thursting@asmentoring.co.uk.


      • Advice if you think you may be neurodivergent
      • Signposting to university support services
      • How to best support a friend, family member or student
      • How do I tell work about my autism/ADHD/ND diagnosis


      • What support is there at the university for my son/daughter?
      • Who do I go to talk to about disability benefits?
      • Do I/my family have a right to claim these?


      • University/work is going okay and I feel supported but I have no life/I can’t organise life outside of work. I feel isolated. I need someone to signpost me.
      • I have seen a group I would like to attend but I’m too anxious to join.
    • Online activities and webinars

      10:00 - 11:00 Glean Assistive Technology Demonstration

      Find out how Glean can help you improve your grades, decrease your stress and ensure you capture all the important bits from your lectures, in person and virtual.

      • Facilitator: Mais Wilsher, Glean

      11:00 - 12:00 Dragon Assistive Technology Demonstration

      An opportunity to find out what the Dragon Software is, how it works and how it can make your essay writing easier. Use your voice to create and edit documents or emails, launch applications, open files, control your mouse, and more.

      • Facilitator: Michael Shepherd, Assistive Technology Trainer

      12:00 - 13:00 Specialisterne

      Specialisterne is part of an international network working in 32 cities across the world to support 1 million careers for neurodivergent people.

      In this workshop you will learn how employing neurodivergent thinking can bring competitive advantage, and why this may be the case. 'Using neurodiversity as a competitive advantage' will focus on the experience of autistic graduates in the workplace. You will hear from a panel of autistic people, who are working in graduate to senior roles, and you will have the opportunity to submit questions for the panel. We will also present videos of actual experiences of autistic people in the workplace, and discuss strategies which can help teams with different types of thinking be successful at work.

      • Facilitators: Elaine Stephens & Sharon Didrichsen
    • Stalls & activities

      Explore your creativity with the Lego building activity

      • The education team will be running a Lego, art and photography workshop to help you explore your creativity and team-building skills.

      Inclusion Barnet

      • Inclusion Barnet is a local Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation, supporting disabled people in the borough. We offer one-to-one help and advice, as well as run a wide range of campaigns and projects to make Barnet more accessible and inclusive.

      MDX Student Union

      Mind over Matter

      • Participants will be able to try out neurofeedback headsets that measure brain activity to control simple computer games.

      Neurodiverse Brains & Student Liberation Group

      • Pop in to have a chat with the students from these groups.

      Posturite Assistive Technology and Equipment

      • Explore how assistive technology and equipment can support you in your studies. There will be an opportunity to trial the equipment, see how MindView, Read and Write and other software packages work and you can ask questions to the Posturite experts.

      Resources for Autism

      • Resources for Autism provides practical support for autistic people, from community support to group activities, therapy sessions, parent support and sibling support.

      Student Support Plus Services

      The Sapphire Community Group

      • Find out how this community group works with children and young people to empower and stabilise segregated communities through mentoring, coaching, literature, entertainment, events, and workshops.

      Tower of Hanoi maths puzzles and activities

      • The Tower of Hanoi is a mathematical game or puzzle consisting of three rods and several disks of various diameters, which can slide onto any rod. The puzzle begins with the disks stacked on one rod in order of decreasing size, the smallest at the top, approximating a conical shape.
  • Webinars and Workshops Speakers

    • Alison Lam - Conversation Starters Workshop

      Alison Lam identifies as a neurodivergent, interdisciplinary social practitioner using different materials such as porcelain, metals, glass and paper. Alison explores the idea of grief, discardment and ostracisation, through exploring and investigating process-led investigations. She often refers to this process as ‘drawing with her hands’.

      "Conversation Starters" is supported using public funding by Arts Council England

      • Fragments of conversations.
      • Tiny moments.
      • The space between words.
      • Insignificant to some.
      • Momentous to others.
    • Elaine Stephens - Specialisterne Webinar

      Elaine studied a Masters in Autism and spent 4 years supporting autistic students at university before joining Specialiserne in 2015 where Elaine is now Programmes Director.

    • Georgia Thrusting - AS Mentoring Workshop

      Georgia smiling at cameraGeorgia has worked with neurodivergent adults and children in musical, educational and social settings since 2019 and has been working with ASM since 2020.  She has experience developing and facilitating successful Autism specific projects including ASM's 'Mental Health and well-being' workshop and Autistic Jobseekers peer support group as well as a 12-week mindfulness walking project for the Charity Resources for Autism. Georgia has an interest in finding autism-specific strategies to boost the well-being of her clients. Outside of her work in neurodiversity, Georgia is a trained musician, and singer/ guitarist and enjoys performing at events across the UK. She hopes to study for a master's in Music Therapy in the near future.

    • Gurinder Grewal - ADHD Educational Workshop

      Gurinder smiling at cameraGurinder is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority. She holds a Masters Degree in SpLD which included in-depth research into the identification of effective assessment procedures for EAL students, achieving a distinction. Her other qualifications include Level 7 Diplomas in ADHD and in the assessment of individuals with SpLDs; a PGCE; and a BA (Hons) in Marketing. As well as being an NLP Practitioner, she has also completed a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course. Gurinder has spent over 20 years specialising in the tuition and assessment of students with SpLD and in the mentoring and training of new teachers.

    • Mais Wilsher - Glean Webinar

      Mais smiling at cameraTech Advocate for Student Success at Glean, Mais has a sales background and leads efforts in bringing Glean onboard directly to universities across the world. His focus is on improving student learning outcomes via effective study strategies, cognitive learning theory and the use of Award Winning technology.

    • Matthew Roze - Memorisation with Drama Activities Workshop

      Graduated with BA in Theatre Performance and Production at Middlesex University in 2022 and now is a Performer/Drama facilitator.

      Social media handles:

      • Insta: matthewiroze
      • Twitter: matthewiroze
    • Michael Shepherd - Dragon Assistive Technology Webinar

      Michael in suit smiling at camera

      With a career in technology spanning 30 years, Michaels' roles have included delivering and creating Information Technology (IT) & Assistive Technology (AT) solutions for academia and professionals.

      Over the past 15 years, his teaching skills and wealth of tech experience have seen his career move towards providing assistive technology training to university students with SpLDs such as Dyslexia & Dyspraxia. His main objective: is to provide the best AT solutions to his clients and students giving them the tools to empower themselves.

      Michael is the Author of the book “Dragon Professional - A Step further” (a book on how to develop your own voice commands for the software Dragon Professional), the founder of the SpellAid ios app (the first truly dyslexia-friendly mobile app spell checker) and is the founder of VoxAid (the Dragon Professional add-on), which supercharges the way individuals can use Dragon Professional to automate and carry out AT software functions.

      You can find Michael on LinkedIn

    • Sharon Didrichsen - Specialisterne Webinar

      Sharon worked in IT recruitment before founding Specialisterne in Northern Ireland in 2014. Sharon is passionate about how a little bit of support or direction can make a significant difference in the lives of neurodivergent people, and what a difference neurodivergent people can make in work.

    • Find more about Chickenshed

      Performes on a theatre stageChickenshed is an inclusive theatre company that first began in 1974. Primarily based at our own purpose-built venue in North London, we create theatre for all ages and run successful outreach projects, education courses and membership programmes throughout the year.

      Chickenshed is also a registered charity and relies heavily on the generous support of individuals, companies, trusts and foundations in order to continue our pioneering work.

    • Find out more about Resources for Autism

      Resources for Autism’s vision is a world where autistic people are able to live fulfilling lives, with equal chances to reach their full potential. For over 27 years, we have provided practical support for autistic people and for those who love and care for them. From community support to group activities, therapy sessions, parent support & sibling groups to holiday play schemes; we aim to give those whom we support a better and happier life. In addition to that we have trained and built the capacity of many public and private organisations that work with autistic people in order to change society’s autism narrative.

      As an organisation, we pride ourselves on our openness, commitment to our service users and to supporting each other. Many of us enjoy the benefits of flexible working and our staff turnover is remarkably low – which some attribute to being part of an extraordinary, non-political, warm working culture.

      Every year we support directly over 2000 autistic people, and 5000 family members and train hundreds of professionals.

      With thousands of autistic people waiting for a service and a growing neurodiversity movement, we are compelled to grow, reach more people and break more barriers.

      Our practice as an organisation is founded on the fundamental ethos of acceptance for an individual exactly as they are and from that place, we work with their environment (be it parents, teachers, or professional networks) in order to ensure the individual is appropriately understood and supported to be the best version of themselves they could ever be. We do not see an individual’s behaviour as challenging per se but we see their behaviour as challenging services. Our aim goes beyond developing resilient parents or resilient children to creating resilient services that are aware and inclusive of neurodivergence.

  • Meet the Team

Event spearheaded by:

Dr Alison Megeney - Deputy Dean of Education

Project Leads:

Emilie Edwards - Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, Irina Staneva - Access Centre Manager, Adriana Aliji - Academic Practice Communication Manager

Planning Team:

Phil Barter - Deputy Dean (Education) Faculty of Health Social Care & Edu, Tenia Kyriazi - Deputy Director - Academic Operations (Dubai), Anna Kyprianou - PVC for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion EXC, James Graham - Deputy Dean (Student Success) ACI,  Olga Mourouti - Dep Dean, Quality Enhancement & Devp't & Student Success BUS, Gurinder Grewal - Senior Specialist Study Support Facilitator LSS, Alan Stuart - Director of Employability Service EMP, Najiha Malik - Vice President Science and Technology SU, Jacob Pepper - Networks & Social Action Manager SU, Aqsa Ahmed - Student Networks Coordinator SU, Claire Yates Wedge - Employability Service Manager EMP

Planning Team cont:

Mark Shilingis - LSS Comms Manager LSS, Rachel Smith - Faculty Executive Administrator SCT, Sandra Appiah - Senior Lecturer in Chemistry/Biochemistry SCT, Aidan Delaney - Director of Programmes for The Moving Image ACI, Nicholas Sharples - Senior Lecturer in Mathematics SCT, Carol Clifford - Disability and Dyslexia Support Manager LSS

Planning Team cont:

Caroline Robinson-Day - Specific Learning Difficulties Tutor LSS, Janette Nhangaba - Head of Student Support and Wellbeing LSS, Britta Stordal - Senior Lecturer in Medical Sciences SCT, Ben Serlin - Senior Safeguarding Project Manager SA,  Doirean Wilson - SL in Human Resource Management BUS,  Alicia Wright - Senior Academic Developer CAPE, Laura Wilson - Senior Lecturer in Sport Science SCT, Helen Bendon - Interim Head of Department (Media) ACI


David Wheeler -  Associate Lecturer in Studio and Digital Production, Luca D'Angelo - Educational Technologist (Multimedia, Streaming and Hybrid Specialist)


MDXSU, MDXWorks, MDX Sports, Staff CommsLSS Comms, Marketing Team, Web team, Facilities & Campus Events Team, DDS, CMH, CAPE