Course taster

Working with neurodiversity and LD individuals

There are various reasons why you need to have a clear understanding of neurodiversity and learning disabilities (LD) when working within forensic settings:

When working with individuals who have neurodiversity and/or LD needs, we must be responsive to their cognitive and executive functioning abilities and their experiences and how these will impact on their ability to engage and progress in interventions. As practitioners, we need to be able to work responsively with these individuals to enable us to achieve this. An integral part of this is the use of VARK (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinaesthetic). Whilst there is no evidence that you have to match learning style to the learner, it is helpful to incorporate these styles to support the needs of your service user (Bawalsah & Haddad, 2020).

To learn more about the VARK styles of learning, you may wish to watch the following video:

VARK Styles of Learning

View VARK Styles of Learning video transcript

In the following activity you'll have the opportunity to reflect on what might be the most effective practice when working with neurodiverse individuals.


Aim: To consider best practice when working with individuals with neurodiversity and/or LD needs.

Duration: 30 minutes

Feedback: This activity is not graded, and feedback will not be provided by the course tutor directly. However, there will be an opportunity to share and discuss your reflections in a live session. You can also share these reflections with your clinical supervisor and may wish to include these as part of your practice diary, which will be reviewed by your clinical supervisor (The links to the practice diary or papers are not available in this course taster).

Task: Read the following paper:

Birdsey, N., Walz, L., & Scrase, C. (2021). Best practice when working therapeutically with people with learning disabilities: A brief review. The Bulletin of the Faculty of People with Intellectual Disabilities, 19(1), pp. 50-59.

Write no more than 500 words in your practice diary considering the questions below:

1 - What adaptions to your assessment would you make to work with an LD individual?

2 - What skills would you use to deliver a therapeutic intervention that was responsive to LD needs?

Link your points to the HCPC standards of proficiency, highlighting where your reflections are demonstrating competence for the following SoPs:

Standards of Proficiency (SOPs)

2.5 to respect and uphold the rights, dignity, values, and autonomy of service users including their role in the assessment, diagnostic, treatment, and intervention and/or therapeutic approaches process

5.1 respond appropriately to the needs of all different groups and individuals in practice, recognising this can be affected by difference of any kind including, but not limited to protected characteristics intersectional experiences and cultural differences

5.4 understand the duty to make reasonable adjustments in practice and be able to make and support reasonable adjustments in theirs and others' practice

5.9 understand the requirement to adapt practice to meet the needs of different groups and individuals

7.1 use effective and appropriate verbal and non-verbal skills to communicate with service users, carers, colleagues and others

12.5 understand the theoretical basis of, and the variety of approaches to, assessment and intervention