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What Is Neurodiversity and How Do We Embrace It?

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The term neurodiversity was introduced by sociologist Judy Singer in the 1990s and is becoming more widely accepted as our understanding of how the brain functions. But what is neurodiversity and what educational approaches best support neurodivergent people?

What Is Neurodiversity?

The neurodiversity movement allows us to shift our viewpoint and address neurodevelopmental differences including dyslexia, autism, and ADHD not as neurological conditions but as alternative ways that the human brain can function. Those who are neurodiverse interact with the world in unique ways that need to be better understood.

Changing our perspective allows us to recognize that these are not conditions that need to be “cured,” and to better recognize the strengths and talents that neurodiverse people bring to humanity. Being a unique thinker can be personally challenging, as many famous historical figures could attest.

Some notable examples of neurodiverse people include1:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Sir Isaac Newton
  • Nikola Tesla

What Is Included in the Spectrum of Neurodiversity?

Neurodiverse children and adults might receive a variety of diagnoses that are used medically to define a condition based on a set of common behaviors. This process of diagnosing learning differences might benefit the student if it opens the doors to additional educational supports and opportunities.

These differences in brain function might be described as2:

  • ADD or ADHD
  • OCD
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Asperger's Syndrome
  • Tourette’s Syndrome

Common Strengths of the Neurodiverse

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From this perspective, most of us are considered “neurotypical” people, and we find educational institutions to be largely set up to work for us. Teaching methods, visual aids, and class sizes are most often designed around the needs of neurotypical people specifically. This creates a challenging and often unwelcoming environment for those who are wired to learn differently.

Neurodiversity advocates and the autistic community are recognizing and demonstrating the many strengths of these young people, which are shown to include:

  • Enhanced creativity and an ability to think ‘outside the box’ for problem solving
  • Asking questions or making observations that others are afraid to say
  • High intelligence, with the ability to think in visual images
  • High energy, spontaneity, and productivity
  • Strong memory and retention of information on topics of interest to them
  • Keen ability to perform repetitive tasks accurately
  • A tendency to be punctual, honest, loyal, logical, and fair
  • An innate understanding of mathematics, music, or art
  • Fast visual processing and excellent pattern recognition
  • An ability to see the big picture and put pieces together
  • Mechanical aptitude with good spatial skills
  • Hyper-focused on tasks that hold their attention
  • Highly proficient with computers, software, and technology

Changing How We Educate the Neurodiverse Student

Understanding and embracing the concept of neurodiversity inspires us to make the educational environment less challenging for neurodiverse students. When we recognize the strengths of these intelligent young people, we can craft a comprehensive academic plan that empowers students and is fully tailored to their natural learning style.

The banking and technology world is starting to recognize the value of the neurodiverse employee in the workforce. In many cases, by putting together neurodiverse work teams, global businesses are finding that these individuals reach proficiency faster and perform with better productivity rates, often while improving and automating processes around them.

In just one example, JPMorganChase found their neurodiverse team to be 48% more productive than a neurotypical team, while ramping up in 6 months to a level that normally takes 3 years in the banking industry.3

At Lydian Academy, we feel that the educators of neurodiverse students should celebrate their talents and help prepare them for exciting careers in the areas of their personal interest.

How Lydian Academy Is Embracing Neurodiversity

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Rather than focusing on changing the student to make them fit into a neurotypical educational construct, Lydian Academy is changing the educational model to better fit the neurodiverse student. These young people are creative and unique learners that often benefit from:

  • One-on-one instruction that is fully centered on their learning style
  • Segmenting assignments and lessons into shorter focused working sessions
  • Flexible scheduling that provides routine and shifts with their optimal learning times
  • Visual, audio, and tactile learning tools which engage the senses and support these alternative learning styles
  • Having evaluations or testing in shorter intervals, with engaging formats, on specific material
  • Tracking progress on projects and approaching milestones with clear expectations and tangible planning tools
  • Engaging and sparking the students’ unique passion for learning while promoting their strengths

At Lydian Academy, we don’t consider these to be accommodations, we offer these same benefits to every student to personalize their experience and thrive in their ideal educational environment. Our private middle and high school curriculums are fully accredited and accepted by the finest colleges and universities nationwide.

With rolling enrollment, there is no need to wait if your child needs a school fully focused on their unique needs. Schedule a tour or a  virtual open house today to find out how your 6-12th grade student can join us with online classes or on campus in Burlingame or Menlo Park, CA.

Sources:

  1. https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com/historys-30-most-inspiring-people-on-the-autism-spectrum/
  2. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-neurodiversity-5193463
  3. https://www.neurodiversityhub.org/what-is-neurodiversity

We offer a unique year-round one-on-one learning experience, personalized to you and your schedule.

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