NeurodiverCity – Neurological difference and inclusion in the designed environment

07/04/2022 11:00 am to 07/04/2022 12:30 pm

Event Details

** This event has now passed**

What difference can the environment make for people living with neurodiversity?

“Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits. The word neurodiversity refers to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum, as well as other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities. The neurodiversity movement emerged during the 1990s, aiming to increase acceptance and inclusion of all people while embracing neurological difference.” (Baumer & Frueh, 2021).

This webinar explored elements of places and spaces which embrace and consider difference.  Including:

  • The psychological impacts of neurodiversity
  • The lived experience of neurodiversity in relation to the urban environment
  • Architectural responses to achieve inclusivity in design
  • Planning responses to achieve inclusivity in public spaces.

If you’d like more information or would like to chat about the Healthy Happy Places programme we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Rachel Turnbull [email protected]


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Presentations from the event can be downloaded below


NeurodiverCity – Atefeh Motamedi


NeurodiverCity – Steve Maslin


NeuroDiverCity – Tom Laverick

We are delighted to be joined by


Dr Tom Laverick, Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Lead for Autism Services, Clarity Psychology

Title:  Anecdotes from clinical practice; What can they tell us about the environment, sensory processing and its impact on mental health and wellbeing?

The talk will offer a clinical perspective for how neurodiversity is understood and consider historical research to introduce the importance of considering hyper and hyposensitivities to sensory stimuli, illustrating these points using stories of lived experience from clinical practice to highlight some of the challenges. The impact on mental health and wellbeing will be discussed, before considering what environmental adaptations may be needed.


Steve Maslin, Architect, Principal Inclusive Design Consultant, Atkins, Author of Designing Mind Friendly Environments

Title: Neurodiverse friendly design; applying insights, gained from people’s diverse neurological experiences, into design advice.

This talk will be brought by an architect and consultant in inclusive design.  It will take theory and insights and indicate how they could be applied in a typical working environment to create environments that not only work better for people with accentuated neurological experiences, but potentially for the population as a whole


Atefeh Motamedi, Strategic Planner, Atkins, Co-founder of Neurodiversity in Planning Network

Title:  NeurodiverCity: a Town Planner’s perspective on neuro-inclusive place-making

This presentation will introduce Autism and sensory differences and a personal account of the traumatic effects of sensory overload experienced by Autistic individuals in poorly designed environments. It will discuss the need for planning and designing neuro-inclusive environments from both health rights and legal rights viewpoints and will explore a number of ways where planners can make an impact in collaboration with other built environment professionals.



Meet our speakers


Tom Laverick is a Clinical Psychologist who has extensive experience in working with children, young people and adults in both NHS and independent practice, where he has occupied roles such as Clinical Lead within a specialist NHS autism assessment service. Tom has also worked with adults experiencing moderate to severe mental health difficulties and he has an ongoing interest with the treatment of PTSD.

Tom is the Clinical Lead for the Clarity Autism service, which completes high quality assessments with children and adults.  Tom also provides neuro-rehabilitation in relation to neurological conditions, including traumatic brain injury. He is also completing further training in Paediatric Neuropsychology at UCL.

Tom is passionate about conducting research in his field; supervising ongoing autism based research (e.g., autism and camouflaging / masking) and publishing research findings to advance practice e.g., ‘Epilepsy and Accelerated Long-Term Forgetting’ with Professor Alan Baddeley.

Twitter: @TomLaverick1



Steve Atkins’s discipline lead for Access and Inclusive Design Consultancy and a published author.   As a Chartered Architect since 1992, and Consultant Member of the National Register of Access Consultants since 2003, Steve’s specialisms are Inclusive Design and Neurological Needs in the built environment.  Steve is also a Senior Fellow at the Schumacher Institute, has served on Design Council and BRE expert panels and has sat on BSI steering groups for Inclusive Design.  He is also a conference speaker and lectured at several universities.  Steve has worked across a wide range of sectors, including advising several university, local authorities, and transportation clients.  In addition to being an architect, Steve’s has his own personal experiences of additional/enabling requirements and has worked in support/enabling capacities with a diverse range of other people with additional requirements, via social services, charities, directly and voluntarily.

Twitter: @bud_maz



Atefeh Motamedi is a strategic planner at Atkins, and co-founder of Neurodiversity in Planning Network. Atefeh’s own experience as an Autistic individual and her daily difficulties in the built environment motivates her to actively promote place-making for neuro-inclusion. Atefeh is passionate about cognitive urbanism, inclusive planning and design, and equity and accessibility of urban opportunities. Atefeh has a keen interest in sensory design and how it can improve experience and participation in the built environment and life satisfaction as a whole.



Watch the April 2022 event: NeurodiverCity



Watch the February 2022 event: Biophilic Design



Watch the December 2021 event: Healing Environments



Future webinars

19 May 2022: Dementia Friendly Environments – How do we design places that support people living with dementia?

5 July 2022: Bottom Up Urbanism – Tackling wellbeing in the built environment through citizen participation and leadership

The Healthy Happy Places programme is delighted to be showcasing perspectives from mental health, architecture and urban planning to explore why the built environment matters when thinking about mental health and wellbeing. The design of buildings and the shaping of public spaces in the places we live, work and play contribute to our lived experiences, how we feel, and have the power to promote or stifle wellbeing and recovery.

The Healthy Happy Places programme is funded by the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) and is being delivered as a partnership initiative on behalf of the Integrated Care System for the North East and North Cumbria (ICS NENC) to develop a multi-sector approach for supporting and creating mental health and wellbeing through the built environment.