Welcome to our Group for Research in Relationships and NeuroDiversity (GRRAND). We are a diverse bunch of researchers, scholar and art activists, advocates, service users and health consultants interested in human development and neurodiversity. GRRAND is based in the Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology at University College London's Faculty of Brain Sciences.
The term neurodiversity refers to variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions. Traditionally, projects are made about neurodivergent people not with them, but GRRAND breaks the mould by redefining disabled people's narratives from the perspective of their lived experience. Relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives, yet we can often forget just how crucial our connections with other people are for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Neurodivergent people face unique challenges and opportunities to socially connect to family, friends, or their community and form relationships. Those who enjoy these connections are happier, physically healthier and live longer, with fewer mental health problems than people who are less well connected.
Together we aim to better understand social factors in the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of people with a diagnosis of autism and/or ADHD, syndromes and other neurodevelopmental conditions across the lifespan, and to deliver coproduced research and knowledge exchange with neurodivergent people in their preferred ways. To achieve this, we are collaborating with other internal and external researchers, advocates, school staff, service users, activists, service consultants and charity leaders.
To answer our research questions, we combine behavioural, phenomenological and community based participatory techniques together with a developmental approach in research. Importantly, we work with advisory and coproduction neurodivergent led community groups to ensure that our research meets the priorities and needs of the community we serve.
GRRAND is also interested in capturing and recording the many benefits of creative knowledge exchanges between autistic and non autistic researchers and artists. Through our work in the community, we often address the questions of authenticity and representation pertinent to creative interdisciplinary collaboration with neurodivergent participants in research and public engagement. Our activities set out to be mutually beneficial, offering communities the opportunity to develop their own creative practice, find new forms of self-expression, and engage with our research themes on their own terms.
Finally, we organise train and engage days as well as bespoke Autism Mental Health Short Courses to improve access and engagement with mental health services by erasing the damaging stereotypes that exist about disabled people, and celebrating their diverse strengths and unique perspectives.