Student work ‘a-head’ of the game in neurodiversity awareness
Published on 17 May 2022
They say that children tend to accept differences without question, and one University of Dundee student has kept that in mind when creating a board game raising awareness of neurodiverse conditions
Keira Ritchie (21) was diagnosed with a mild case of neurological tic disorder at a young age. While she admits the condition itself didn’t majorly affect her, reactions and judgements from others made her shy about talking about her condition.
Looking to create more awareness and acceptance for neurodiverse conditions and help children in the same situation, the Product Design student has created an educational board game that encourages children to learn about their own brain, their friends’ brains, and how they can all function differently.
‘Get A-Head!’ can be implemented in the classroom and other settings, and focuses on are autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, neurological tic disorder, sensory processing disorder, epilepsy and dyspraxia. Players compete against one another, answering questions about the neurodiverse conditions for the chance to move their counter ahead on the colourful board.
Keira designed the game as part of her final-year studies at the University’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. She is among hundreds of students exhibiting her work at the Art, Design, and Architecture Degree Show 2022, which opens to the public on Saturday 21 May.
“I was seven when I was diagnosed and didn’t really understand what was going on,” said Keira. “It was quite difficult as I got older, especially moving up to secondary school.
“By introducing awareness at a younger age in a safe environment such as the classroom, we can create more awareness and acceptance for neurodiverse kids.
“At primary school, children are very open and accepting of differences. It's not until they reach secondary school and enter their early years of adolescence that they start to become influenced by external factors such as parents with outdated views, uneducated social media influencers or older siblings or peers that make offensive jokes about differences.
“These factors can lead to bullying which, sadly, I and many people I have spoken to have experienced growing up.”
Research suggests that one in 10 people in Scotland have a neurodiverse condition, however Keira believes more awareness is needed to encourage acceptance, and that this education should start in primary school.
“I would love to see ‘Get A-Head!’ go out into Scottish primary schools and maybe even all UK primary schools,” she continued. “It means so much that I have the opportunity to help other kids.”
Keira’s work will be available to view at the Art, Design and Architecture Degree Show, which will be open from Saturday 21 – Sunday 29 May 2022. It celebrates the extensive achievements of more than 350 students from Duncan of Jordanstone.
“DJCAD is a great environment to be in,” said Keira. “I felt like I was really able to grow as a person.
“It’s taken some time to get to where I am, and being around different people has only helped that. I have met so many people from different places and backgrounds, and that’s helped my confidence grow. I still do feel quite shy about my condition but it's much better than what it was when I was at school.”
Entry to the DJCAD Degree Show 2022 is free, with further details available online.
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