Neurodiversity is a term used to describe neurological differences in the human brain. It sees the diverse spectrum of neurological difference as a range of natural variations in the human brain rather than as a deficit in individuals. It is an umbrella term that includes both conditions that are life-long and those that can develop throughout life, including acquired illness or brain injury, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, intellectual disability, mental health, and Tourette syndrome. Neurodiversity deliberately rejects the medical model of diversity that frames human differences as disorders that need to be cured in favour of a more social model of diversity as a natural occurrence.
Neurodiversity is extremely common and all teachers are likely to work with a number of neurodiverse children in the course of their careers. The strengths-based approach of neurodiversity has the potential to increase awareness and understanding about neurological difference while also reducing social stigma.
An increasing number of studies emphasise the importance of taking an additive or strengths-based approach to neurodiversity, rather than characterising the challenges associated with forms of neurodiversity as problems to be fixed.
The concept of neurodiversity represents a strengths-based model which acknowledges that, while some children learn and think differently, these are simply differences and not deficits. The neurodiversity model shifts the focus away from the challenges that a neurodiverse individual may experience to the strengths that they possess. Designing activities that allow children to draw on their known strengths can create opportunities for them to learn and develop in ways that suit their individual abilities.
How well does your ECE setting understand the importance of emphasising the strengths as well as the challenges of neurodiverse children?
How confident do you feel to design activities and learning opportunities that allow your neurodiverse children to use their strengths while also tackling the aspects of learning and ECE life that they find more challenging?
How confident do you feel to act as role model for approaches to neurodiversity in your ECE setting?
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