Inspired by the work of Prof Christopher Gillberg and his colleagues, and the work of Drs Judith Gould and Lorna Wing, the origins of the Neurodiversity Centre were in clinical work being done over the last 13 years with families and individuals presenting with neurodevelopmental challenges or differences. The organisation was formally established in 2016, as a dynamic, learning and service-user-oriented organisation committed to offering comprehensive support, understanding and inclusion for those with neurodevelopmental challenges or differences affecting their daily lives. Headquartered in the Western Cape of South Africa, the Neurodiversity Centre operates eight branches and collaborates with satellite-licensed associated branches (LABS) in KwaZulu-Natal, extending our services nationwide and internationally. With a robust multidisciplinary team of approximately 80 dedicated professionals, we aim to serve as a global ESSENCE hub serving, supporting, and including the communities in which we work in our clinical, research and training programmes.
At the NDC, all our work is grounded in research from the Gilberg Neuropsychiatry Centre (GNC) in Sweden. The GNC is acknowledged as a world-leading international research centre in neurodevelopmental conditions, with its founder, Prof Christopher Gilberg, currently the most published academic in this field. The GNC is conducting world-leading research in areas including autism, ADHD, motor abnormalities, tics and obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and learning differences.
The NDC continually pursues world-class care and support for all neurodivergent people, alongside developing and changing research. Being an ‘ESSENCE’ service (“ESSENCE”, i.e. Early Symptomatic Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examinations) means conducting research aimed at developing and establishing new methods for early intervention, examination, investigation and intervention/treatment in the fields of neuropsychiatry and developmental neurology
Our broader goals are to adapt general perceptions and improve public experiences for people who identify as neurodivergent. We hope to work together with all interested parties towards a society where reasonable accommodations can be made for uniqueness and difference. We wish for a world where neurodivergent individuals can thrive free from discrimination. We aspire to promote the often-overlooked strengths of neurodivergent members of society and the positive contributions they can make.
Furthermore, our team also works with the entire realm of neurological, scholastic, and mental health matters. We welcome people to our centre for neurodevelopmental as well as emotional and mental health concerns. Our clinicians are registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and adhere to research- and evidence-based guidelines, as is their ethical and professional duty of care.
Since laying the groundwork for the NDC, it has been our dream to establish a not-for-profit organisation to allow us to provide the same quality of early childhood intervention services to the majority of children and families (who do not have access to private healthcare) with neuropsychiatric, educational and capacity-building concerns. This birthed the community-outreach arm of the NDC, the Neurodiversity Foundation. The foundation’s initial focus is centred in the Breede Valley of the Western Cape.
The foundation seeks to redress the gross historical injustices in service access and build sustainable, community-based, long-term support resources within these communities. The foundation will further serve as the base for research into setting up effective and comprehensive screening programmes, validating screening tools, and generating data on neurodevelopmental conditions, which is still sorely lacking in South Africa.