NATIONAL and international experts in their fields, including local speakers, came together at the Riverside Centre in Newport to talk about issues affecting neurodivergent people.

Neurodiversity is where neurological differences are recognized and respected as a natural human variation, including conditions such as dyslexia, autism, ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome and more.

The day was designed to be accessible to all, and included a coloured lanyard system for people to indicate whether they were happy to be approached — green for yes, red for no, and orange for people who only wanted to speak to people they already knew.

There was a pop-up Anxiety Café run by Independent Arts, and a creche run by Care Connect IW.

One hundred and fifty people attended to listen to 17 speakers and choose from 15 workshops, with topics including autism and mental health, avoidant and restrictive eating, pathological demand avoidance, and violent and challenging behaviour.

Keynote speaker was Chris Packham, known for his Asperger’s Syndrome as well as his wildlife campaigning and TV presenting.

The conference was the brainchild of a group of friends with caring responsibilities, some of them neurodivergent themselves, lamenting the problems they faced accessing conferences on the mainland.

Neurodiversity IW 2019 was born, run and staffed by volunteers, and funded entirely by Community Action Isle of Wight, Parents Voice IW, WightAid, and Psicon, with Independent Arts, Care Connect IOW, Healthwatch and People Matter providing additional support.

Members of Island Labour — who organised a follow-up event the next day — said they were pleased to hear Mr Packham praise Labour's Neurodiversity Manifesto.

Labour's Isle of Wight prospective parliamentary candidate Richard Quigley said: "I was honoured to be at the launch of the Labour Neurodiversity Manifesto, a manifesto written by neurodiverse people for neurodiverse people.

"The culmination of three years of hard work that I fully endorse and support.

"I would encourage all those party members that identify as neurodiverse to sign up for free membership.

"All should be aware of the gross inequalities faced by the neurodiverse community, affecting their health, employment, education and daily lives.

"We must make sure that the manifesto's call to action is heard and acted upon in the next government."

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