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(UK) Teachers told to "celebrate" neurodiversity in the classroom

Nov 8, 2018, tes: What is neurodiversity and what should schools be doing? https://www.tes.com/news/what-is-neurodiversity [Tes, formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement, is a weekly UK publication aimed primarily at school teachers in the UK.] Neurodiversity has become a buzzword in the world of SEND, but what does it mean and how should schools react? The term "neurodiversity" is used with increased regularity in academic circles, but what does it mean? And what influence should it have over what is happening in the classroom? What is neurodiversity? Neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of neurological differences, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and specific language impairment. Although considered to be a relatively new term … On one hand: yes. There has been increased recognition that not all disabilities are visible. This has been reflected in increased public awareness of conditions such as autism, with shops providing "autism-friendly" times (where the music may be switched off and lights dimmed) and signs on public toilets stating that not all disabilities are visible. … Is being neurodivergent a disability? But are neurological differences only disabilities if viewed through the lens of modern society? Harvey Blume, writing in 1998 for The Atlantic commented: “Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment?”. John Robison, a passionate advocate for autism acceptance, feels that both views can be held: “In simple terms, proponents of the neurodiversity concept posit that autism has been part of the human genome forever, and therefore it must serve an evolutionary purpose. While I agree with that view I am also quick to point out that does not mean autism is not terribly disabling for many of us.”… Neurodiversity in the classroom Bearing this in mind, what should schools do to support young people with neurological differences? 1. Celebrate neurological differences Make neurodiversity awareness a whole-school focus by teaching all young people about it. Celebrate successful individuals with a neurological difference (while also being mindful not to give the impression that all people with a neurological difference will automatically be geniuses or super successful in the world of business). 2. Boost self-esteem Embrace the special interests and successes of young people with neurological differences, both within and outside the classroom. This could act to boost their feelings of self-worth and hopefully avoid feelings of not "fitting in" with the conventions of school. 3. Recognise mental-health issues Work closely with parents and be vigilant of any signs of emotional or mental distress. It may be that the young person requires specialist mental health intervention accessed via CAMHS or their GP. Or it could be that they just need a friendly face or safe space at school. 4. Support Those with neurological differences may experience difficulties with their executive function skills and may require support with organisation and time-management. Assigning a mentor could be useful. …