In this episode of the Edge Dwellers Cafe Podcast, Ben Habib is joined in conversation by Claire Kearns. Claire is a staunch disability and neurodiversity advocate, writer and social media content creator. in 2021, Claire won the La Trobe University Excellence Academy Inaugural Art Competition for her poem entitled “I Was”, about her experiences as a neurodiverse student at university.
00:03:42 Online teaching during COVID has made learning more inclusive and accessable for Claire.
00:07:25 Invisible wounds and other peoples assumptions about your ‘functionality’.
00:10:41 Growing up with undiagnosed neurodivergence and internalising low self-esteem.
00:12:11 Bullying, power and the externalisation of trauma.
00:13:33 Relationship between the prevailing popular culture and bullying.
00:15:52 As a domestic violence survivor, Claire’s choice to return to university study saved her life.
00:20:57 Coming to a place of acceptance of one’s neurodivergence.
00:22:21 Extraordinary energy and strength of will required to study obligations through periods of distress.
00:25:27 Watching a friend get sucked into the alt-right social media swamp.
00:27:10 Figuring out what you think and finding your voice as a domestic abuse survivor.
00:29:34 Difficulty of not having space for rest and recharge in communal living during lockdowns.
00:31:53 Empathising with how COVID lockdowns might impact on neurotypical people.
00:33:23 Universities need to assume more responsibility for facilitating equity and inclusion for students and staff.
00:37:50 Are large institutions (including universities) incapable of human-level care?
00:39:56 Claire discusses her reaction to winning the La Trobe University Excellence Academy Inaugural Art Competition.
00:42:17 Recital of Claire’s winning poem ‘I Was‘.
00:46:37 The poem is not a ‘Hallmark moment’, it’s a demand for an equal playing field.
00:49:20 Inclusive practice should be standard practice.
00:51:14 Frustrations of being the token neurodiversity representative in university management processes.
00:55:00 Neurodiverse people finding common ground across political divides.
00:59:26 You’re not alone!
- Kearns, C. (2021). “I Was”. Excellence Academy Inaugural Art Competition Winner. La Trobe University.
- Kearns, C. (2019). ““I know what it is to be terrified”: what inclusion advocate Claire Kearns would tell her teenage self”. My La Trobe. 27th November 2019.
- Kearns, C. (2020). “Awoken”. Bangor University.
- Kearns, C. (2017). “A Disability & A Degree”. Wise ASSC.
- Kearns, C. (2017). “Getting Past the Idea of Failure”. Wise ASSC.
- Perera, V. (2018). “Let’s level this playing field”. Victorian Council of Social Services.
About Claire Kearns
Claire Kearns is a writer and social media content writer who has published across multiple genres, in magazines, newspapers, university press, student publications, and other outlets. She is most at home digging in her garden and spending time with her guinea pigs, all adopted as rescues. She divides her time between advocacy for teachers and students with neurodiversity, bouts of chronic illness, and semi-functioning as a fully-fledged adult. Despite what might be perceived by others as a negative existence, Claire is extremely happy and wouldn’t change a thing, other than folks making small changes to make life more liveable for those with neurodiversity.
About Ben Habib, host of Edge Dwellers Cafe
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- Logo design: Sarah Cook Design (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Thumbnail artwork developed using Deep Art Effects.
- Intro music: “Lala Bass” by Adele_Newiron from Pixabay.
- Interlude music: “Relax (Drum and Bass)” by vjgalaxy from Pixabay.
- Interlude music: “Centyś – Energy 4” by abctoja from Pixabay.
- Interlude voice-over by Jess Love (https://www.jesslovefilmmaker.com/).
This podcast is broadcast from Naarm/Melbourne on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people. Edge Dwellers Cafe pays respect to their elders past, present and emerging.