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Wednesday, 21 December, 2022

Neurodiversity-affirmative education: why and how? — The British Psychological Society

Think of a child in school experiencing sensory overload – maybe bright strip lighting, or the school bell, or a scratchy school jumper. It’s like a shake of the coke bottle. Then the timetable changes unexpectedly, and the child feels anxious and all at sea – another shake of the bottle. The child wants to be alone but they get paired up in an activity and they have to mask how they are feeling – the bottle shakes again. By the time the child gets home, the bottle erupts and the lid flies off.

Parents faced with this experience report their concerns to school, but are met with a stock response – ‘we don’t see that behaviour here’. If the school’s understanding was shaped by a neurodiversity model, they might hear the parent in a different way, and start to think about what classroom adjustments could be made to relieve the child of the burden of coping. This burden may explain the higher rates of mental ill-health experienced by neurodivergent young people at school (Ford et al., 2021). Meanwhile, those who don’t ‘cope’ in this way – i.e. suppress and mask their experiences – may find themselves subject to bullying by peers (Fink et al., 2015), and exclusion by school staff (Aitken & Wang, 2021).

Read more at: https://www.bps.org.uk/psychologist/neurodiversity-affirmative-education-why-and-how

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