DDN_April_2024 DDN April 2024 | Page 19

With the input of project representatives and lived experience experts , we are currently redesigning a suite of resources to support interventions and engagement with neurodivergent people .
and development opportunities to understand and support neurodivergent people .
Both groups told us about the impact of not having a diagnostic pathway in the prison system , particularly for
ADHD . This included service users who had screened positively for ADHD but were unable to receive a more targeted clinical intervention ( ie ADHD medication ) without a diagnosis . Some service users told us this impacted their decision to use substances illicitly – they suggested this may be different if they took ADHD medication which could help them manage typical ADHD traits such as anger or difficulty relaxing .
At a national level , the scale of this problem is well evidenced , and untreated ADHD accounts for at least an estimated £ 11.7m annually in the criminal justice system . Some service users with ADHD and autism told us they didn ’ t feel comfortable accessing group programmes because they didn ’ t like being around lots of people . They said groups delivered in a classroom setting reminded them of difficult , and in some cases traumatic , experiences at school .
We also heard that some of the resources staff used to deliver targeted interventions , such as workbooks , could be ‘ too wordy and confusing ’ and there was too much jargon used to explain concepts like the stages of change . We collected our findings in a final report that identifies key learnings useful for project stakeholders and wider criminal justice and community drug and alcohol partners . Learnings include improved continuity of care pathways and community drug and alcohol support for neurodivergent people .
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS The report also includes a set of recommendations guiding phase 2 of the project – ‘ design , test and learn ’. This has guided us as we have developed a series of resources to help break down these barriers to support .
With the input of project representatives and lived experience experts , we are currently redesigning a suite of resources to support interventions and engagement


Many neurodivergent people in prison have never been educated about their condition or how it impacts their emotions , feelings and the way they communicate . They struggle their whole lives to fit into a society that has been built for neurotypical people . Without any reasonable adjustments in place to help them navigate this neurotypical world , many people start using drugs and alcohol early in life to try and numb the impact of their unsupported neurodivergent condition .
with neurodivergent people . This includes a harm minimisation booklet that fits into a wallet , to support people with a poor working memory as they prepare for their release .
Our partners Genius Within are redesigning a set of ‘ in cell ’ workbooks usually completed by service users on their own or in a 1:1 with their allocated recovery worker . The redesigned resource will support harm minimisation education while also providing engaging and interactive distraction-based activities and tools . This targets service users who are unable to access groups , and responds to the many service users who told us how much they enjoy distraction packs . Each resource is tested with service users to check how effective it is before its inclusion within the finalised and improved pathway – and we will continue to explore new ways to engage with the people .
We will also be rolling out bespoke , face-to-face training to staff within each of the ten prisons , to ensure the redesigned pathway can be properly embedded into the way prisons support people . The training will equip staff with a better understanding of neurodivergent conditions , as well as build practical skills to engage and deliver interventions to neurodivergent service users .
NEXT STEPS The third and final phase of the project will evaluate the outcomes and impact of the new pathway . We will then share our learnings via a regional roadshow , showcasing redesigned resources and best practice ‘ top tips .’ We believe that sharing our learnings and contributing to system-wide change are a key part of our commitment to ensuring lifechanging support is available to anyone who needs it .
If you ’ d like to find out more about our work creating a new neurodiversity pathway , our roadshow dates , or any other project updates , we would be glad to hear from you . Please email : elaine . wilcock @ cgl . org . uk
Mark Harvey / Alamy