FLANC was founded by a group of expert lawyers dedicated to ensuring that the neurodivergent community has equal access to justice by addressing barriers to participation in family proceedings and dispute resolution. We are passionate about increasing awareness and driving change through collaboration and education, across the legal sector and beyond. 

What is neurodivergence?

Neurodivergence is an umbrella term used to describe a difference or ‘divergence’ from typical or usual neurological expression.

Some of the most common types of neurodivergence are usually referred to using the following terms: Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) otherwise known as Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Tourette’s Syndrome, Dyspraxia and Dysgraphia. At FLANC we recognise that there are other terms which are used for some types of neurodivergence and we share the concerns about the use of the word disorder.

The common factor for all types of neurodivergence is that someone’s brain works differently from the ‘typical’ brain which means that neurodivergent people often interact with the world, think and process information in different ways than people who are not neurodivergent.

Neurodivergence describes the way a person is and can form a major part of their identity. It is not a learning disability, a mental illness or something to be ‘cured’ or ‘fixed’ although adjustments, accommodations and thoughtfulness can help neurodivergent people when navigating the world around us. Neurodivergence is often not obvious from the outside.

Neurodivergence and neurodiversity are evolving terms and they are sometimes used interchangeably or in different ways by different organisations and groups. Neurodiversity reflects the fact that across all cultures and societies there is a range of ways in which people’s brains work which include the ‘typical’ brain and brains that work differently from the typical brain. This is why people who are not neurodivergent are referred to as neurotypical.

How common is neurodivergence?

The short answer is, more common than we think. By some estimates around 1 in 5 people are neurodivergent. Research has tended to focus on how common specific types of neurodivergence are, for example:  

It is also thought that neurodivergent children and families are likely to be over-represented in the family justice system.

Why does it matter?

The world around us is set up for people who are neurotypical, not people who are neurodivergent. That means that neurodivergent people often face barriers because services and organisations frequently don’t understand or meet their needs. Anyone who comes into contact with the family justice system is likely to be worried and stressed but for neurodivergent people, without their individual needs being understood and necessary adjustments being made, they can struggle to access justice and outcomes can be unfair and discriminatory.

As a society, we need to rapidly change our understanding of and attitudes towards neurodivergence. It is often undiagnosed and misunderstood. There are many stigmas and stereotypes about neurodivergence, due to a lack of education and awareness, which are harmful and can also stop neurodivergent people from talking about their needs and accessing support.

At FLANC we have seen this lack of awareness and understanding in the family justice system result in:

The needs of children and families being overlooked and consequently not met.

Neurodivergent children and adults struggling to communicate, being misunderstood and not being given information in a way that works for them.

Confusion and inappropriate blame.

Care planning and decisions being undertaken on an incorrect or misinformed basis.

Difficulties in securing reasonable adjustments at court and at other points in the litigation process, restricting access to justice for neurodivergent children and adults.

As a result, neurodivergent families can experience trauma and develop distrust towards professionals.

Our solution

FLANC believes that education, discussion, awareness and often very simple practical steps can revolutionise a neurodivergent person’s access to justice on a case by case basis. However, we need clear and consistent guidance that all professionals adhere to so that neurodivergent children and families are treated fairly and have access to justice. We are committed to achieving the following:

Training for family justice professionals.

Change and better outcomes depend on increased awareness. There is currently no requirement for family justice or child protection professionals to undertake any training in relation to neurodivergence. We would like to see:

  • The publishing of best practice guidance for professionals working in the family justice system.
  • Family justice professionals being required to undertake one hour compulsory training similar to the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism which has been rolled out across the NHS.
  • Training for professionals working directly with neurodivergent children in alternative communication methods for instance, PECS, Makaton, Communication Boards, assistive technology and Social Stories, to ensure that children and young people’s voices are heard clearly.

Procedural changes, including:

  • Better practice in relation to reasonable adjustments at court and away from court.
  • Changes to court forms, including digital court forms, so that needs arising out of neurodivergence are identified at the outset of court proceedings and kept under review during the proceedings.
  • The use of standard documents so that needs can be readily understood, for instance All About Me documents and Behaviour Passports.
  • Better communication between the family justice system, the rest of the justice system and the other key sectors involved in delivering services to neurodivergent people for instance, health and education.

Contact us

Alia Lewis

Duncan Lewis


Jenny Beck KC (Hon)

Beck Fitzgerald


Caroline Croft

Coram Chambers


Sheena Vadher

Duncan Lewis


Jasmine Hollis

Beck Fitzgerald

Associate Solicitor

Flora Hughes

Beck Fitzgerald

Associate Solicitor

Fauzia Mumani

Duncan Lewis