According to the general definition, neurodiversity is referred to variation in the human brain in terms of social, behavioral, and mental responses. Related studies classify neurodiversity to lie in the autism spectrum but can be connected with other conditions too.
Some strategies can be of great help to neurodiverse students and can boost their logical and critical thinking along with social skills. This blog gives an overview of the term neurodiversity along with great methods to help neurodiverse students!
Understanding the concept of neurodiversity
It is well acknowledged that every person thinks differently, perceives things in unique ways, and shows a range of reactions to stimuli. This variation in thinking, learning and behaving is considered normal and not a deficit.
People seem to have other talents and weaknesses due to different neurocognitive abilities. However, in some people, there may be pronounced strengths and weaknesses. It can lead to perfectionism as well as some disability.
The virtue that makes neurodivergence different is that it can produce inconsistency in specific fields and be advantageous in the right environment. The concept of neurodiversity is now long known and has become vital for application in classrooms.
What conditions can be linked to neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is a term that covers a wide range of conditions. The first condition identified in this sphere was autism. Other conditions include:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Developmental speech disorders
- Intellectual disability
- Tourette syndrome
- Schizophrenia bipolar disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
The concept of neurodiversity aims at normalizing pronounced strengths and weaknesses instead of treating them as a medical condition. There are various support groups online and offline that reconceptualize neurodiversity and encourage the use of societal measures to support neurodiverse students.
How to make the environment more neurodiversity-friendly?
Here are some ways to make the surroundings more neurodiversity-friendly.
- Allow little adjustments. Some students might experience high-level sensitivity to sound, light, or movements. In such cases, minor adjustments can be allowed, like flexible seating, headphones, or comfortable uniforms.
- Break the task into smaller portions rather than explaining the entire activity. It might be somewhat challenging for sure students to process a large chunk of information at one go.
- Patience is the key here. These students are different from others and might require more attention and patient listening.
- With clear communication styles, the students can follow the instructions better.
- Planning equipment such as calendars, diaries, to-do lists, or rubrics can help teach the students the importance of organizing and may inculcate better logical abilities.
How to encourage problem-solving and anger management in neurodiverse students?
Let us look at some ways you can support neurodiverse students.
- Tell them that making mistakes is normal. They will understand this aspect better if teachers and parents try to make a mistake on purpose and then emphasize that every person makes mistakes sometimes. The sequence of making a mistake, fixing it, and moving on is vital in students’ lives.
- Focus on telling them what is to be done instead of prohibited things. By doing this, the mentor creates a positive atmosphere in the classroom, promoting better learning.
- Explain the idea of backup plans. It is crucial to explain to the students that there might be times when a plan does not work. In this case, we must think of some backup plans. It encourages better problem-solving.
- Normalize meltdowns and anxiety episodes. Students with any of the neurodiverse conditions are prone to anxiety disorders and frequent breakdowns. It is essential to teach them a range of strategies to calm down on their own. A very famous trick is the use of break cards. Break cards include short activities that can help a person calm down while performing the mentioned activities. These may consist of taking several deep breaths, drinking, counting, listening to music, etc.
- Indulgence in physical activities such as doing exercise or performing any activity that interests the student can be great methods to manage anger.
How to increase neurodiverse student engagement in the classroom?
It is sometimes difficult for a neurodiverse student to process many things. Hence, breaking the task into mini-steps can be helpful in better learning and performance.
Keep some rewards ready for functions that they can achieve quickly. A range of prizes for each task can help boost the student’s confidence.
Also, exam-style adjustments can help bring out the best in the students. These tips include extra time for reading, allowing a scribe, unadorned appearance of the question paper, and lesser noise during the exam. These few tips can help students engage more quickly in the classroom.
Another tip is clearing the clutter. Some students might get irritated or disturbed by the sight of too much stationary or books on the desks. One can solve this issue by installing cupboards or designated drawers when the child can also learn to place the objects back after use.
Tips to improve social and behavioral skills in neurodiverse students
Here are some tips neurodiverse students can use to improve their skills.
- Emotion cards are a great tool to teach students how and why their emotions are completely valid. They can express their feelings using cards and learn how to cope with anger and anxiety.
- Guide them on what to do in certain situations. It is an excellent method to teach positivity in their minds and surroundings.
- Explain to the students that every person’s struggles are different, and everybody deserves understanding and patience.
- Individual attention towards neurodiverse students can help them in better organizing and prioritizing. Some students may find it easier to learn in less crowded areas and more closely with their mentor.
- Parental engagement helps mentors identify the student’s learning style to use better adaptive strategies to improve social and behavioral skills.
- Praising the students for things they are passionate about can help them excel and, hence, manage anger and stress better.
As a community, we can do a lot to normalize the lives of neurodiverse students. We can combine educational strategies with social and behavioral tips to encourage better abilities in students. This technique helps improve their performance in nearly all spheres and boost their confidence.