The LEANS research and design teams debuted our new LEANS website and released the complete resource pack on June 9th, 2022. It was a day characterized by a blend of anxiety, pride, hopefulness, and sheer terror. At that point, we had very little idea what our reception would be. After a last-minute technical muddle, we weren’t even completely sure the website and downloads would work! The amount of excitement and community encouragement before the resource release amplified the pressure a hundredfold, as we knew so many people were eagerly waiting for LEANS to come out.
As it turns out, people have responded to LEANS in ways and on a scale that it would have been hard to imagine beforehand. Our launch event and our first year have been positive beyond anything for which we could have reasonably hoped. It has been gratifying for the entire team to see so many downloads from around the world, and to hear feedback coming back from teachers and classes who have been bold enough to try the programme in its first year. Not only that—we have heard about people including it in initial teacher training, citing it in their university projects, and talking about the policy implications. People have really picked LEANS up and run with it, and it’s amazing!
In the year since the release, our team has benefitted from additional funding to support impact and dissemination, which is something not all projects are fortunate enough to have. We have worked hard to keep building a larger ecosystem of content, and a community of practice and support. We’ve shared 5 of our biggest post-launch achievements below.
All year, we have also repeatedly been asked when “more LEANS” is coming. There is so much community demand for neurodiversity content for both children and adults. Unfortunately, we have not yet been successful in securing funding to extend LEANS to other age groups or settings—but we’re still interested, and we haven’t given up. Stay tuned!
Keep reading to look back at our big achievements in the first year of LEANS’ release, what’s next, and our thank-yous.
5 post-launch highlights from our first year of release
1. Talks, articles and conferences
This has been a bumper year for talks, articles and conferences—all part of getting the word out about LEANS! Some big highlights included being featured in the Teaching Scotland magazine (issue 94), the It Takes All Kinds of Minds (ITAKOM) neurodiversity conference in Edinburgh (March 2023), presentations and training for the NHS, and the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) conference in Stockholm (May 2023).
2. Companion resources for parents and carers
Working with our colleagues at the Salvesen Mindroom Centre, we released free LEANS companion resources for parents and carers to help with explaining the programme, and proposing it to your child’s school.
3. The LEANS Champions programme
In the second half of 2022, we recruited educators and ran a new, fully-funded training course for LEANS Champions. The Champions are trained volunteers who can advise and support others on understanding and using LEANS. We are very grateful for their generosity, in sharing their time and experience. The Champions programme “opened for business” and began offering support at the start of February 2023.
4. Launching the LEANS Community challenges
In April 2023, we wound up LEANS-C by asking YOU to get involved in sharing LEANS, and connecting people around neurodiversity education.
5. Translation and licensing opportunities
Our most recent opportunity, announced in early May 2023. It’s now possible to propose a translation of LEANS into a new language, and to license the content and illustrations. Our terms require that any new translations would also be free to schools and other end users. Get the details on our dedicated translation page.
Coming up later in 2023
This year, we’re approaching the end of funded staff time on LEANS, and trying to finish our unfinished tasks. We’re not done yet, however! This year, we hope to…
- Publish academic papers about LEANS
- Update our lists of community-recommended resources and useful organisations
- Open a revised and streamlined LEANS Champions course for recruitment (estimate: November 2023)
- Publish design-related materials for free on OSF, to help as a model for other projects
- Continue work on new LEANS translations
- Maybe even more!
Thank you to our funders, team, and supporters
This is an important place to thank the funders who have specifically been supporting LEANS activity in the year since the release:
- The University of Edinburgh’s ESRC Impact Accelerator Grant scheme, which supported the LEANS Community (LEANS-C) project
- The University of Edinburgh’s Wellcome Trust Institutional Translational Partnership Impact Award (iTPA)
A major thank-you is also due to our charity partners the Salvesen Mindroom Centre, who have supported us in-kind throughout this year with resources and staff help.
It goes without saying that thanks are due to all members of the LEANS teams. Read more about our team members here.
At this 1-year anniversary would also like to thank:
- Our unflappable webmaster Emma Wilson, who is gracious no matter how many updates we request
- Administrative paragon Susan Davidson, for sorting out paperwork and everything else under the sun
- Jeff Wright at Edinburgh Innovations for his support with the legal side of LEANS licensing and translation
- The staff in the Edinburgh Research Office, especially Taryn Murray
- All of the LEANS Champions and participants in our Champions training course
- The many MANY Twitter friends we have never met in person, but who have consistently helped us share LEANS and promote the cause of neurodiversity education
- All those who have invited us to present and promote LEANS within their organisations
- All those who have taken up our Community Challenges to share LEANS, and create spaces to connect around neurodiversity education