A loose guide for neurodivergent learners and students

A loose guide for neurodivergent learners and students

Posted on: 10/05/2022

A loose guide for neurodivergent learners and students

"Respect is not fear and awe; it...[is]the ability to see a person as he is, to be aware of his unique individuality. Respect, thus, implies the absence of exploitation. I want the loved person to grow and unfold for his own sake, and in his own ways, and not for the purpose of serving me." Erich Fromm
“The Art of Loving: The Centennial Edition”, p.26. 

  • As a Neurodivergent learner you are most definitely not alone! 1 in 7 people (15%+) of the general population are neurodivergent. We exist in a neurodiverse population that unfortunately leans towards catering to the neuromajority. 
  • Invisible disabilities are real and dynamic and subject to change over time. One day you could be flying and the next not be able to engage so much. We all have ‘spikey’ educational profiles. There is no such thing as a ‘perfect learner’. No being is linear.
  • It is your human right to access an education. Reasonable accommodations are your right.
  • Look for educators, tutors and lecturers who are openly Neurodivergent and/or disabled. Some educators still have to hide the fact they are neurodivergent unfortunately.
  • Look for tutors who have made the effort to understand our culture(s) and have had necessary training by and for Neurodivergent/and or disabled tutors. They may have read X and been on X marches but how do they nurture you as a learner? Care is critical.
  • Ableism exists within education – you are not imagining things - awareness is growing however and approaches are changing. You can be a part of this.
  • Your medical history is private! Only share details if you feel you are in a safe, sensitive, supportive environment and with trustworthy individuals. This is imperative.
  • Look for educational establishments who don’t outsource their support to different campuses. Accessibility is key!
  • Look for courses (tutors and peers) that don’t expect you to be ‘switched on’ all the time. You are not there as a part-time tutor or to organise your tutors or your peers. See if those around you are responsible for their actions.
  • If you feel your tutors understanding is limited in terms of neurodivergency, try to talk to them initially and if possible. For example: Your tutor only questions you in discussion but provides no transition time between queries. Ask for transition time or for them to move on to another learner or task. If they don’t do this think of complaining. Also, if you feel you are being side-lined, complain. If you feel unsupported, complain. If you feel the validation processes are biased, complain. 
  • Your educational environment is hugely important!! Neurodivergent learners are more sensitive to their environments (although this will vary). I know I am less likely to have a quality learning experience in perpetually negative, cold and sensorially demanding environments. There is no ‘getting over’ these aspects or ‘toughing up’ for me as a neurodivergent learner.
  • You are fully within your rights to think differently and to have more time and space. This does not mean you aren’t open minded.
  • If you can’t find an appropriate course or educational establishment, consider creating your own course and/or curriculum and seeking out appropriate mentors. Seek out discussion groups and providers. More online provision is becoming available. This can be a more trial-and-error approach at striking out in this direction but it can also be hugely rewarding and could be a lesser financial burden(s) on you.
  • You have every right to be creative on your terms.

This is not an exhaustive list and I fully realise even this list may not be fully accessible, to all so I am more than happy to hear from others to discuss aspects I’ve noted above.  Please contact me via the contact page if you wish to discuss further or add too. My aim here is to save others time and negate ableist systems. 

Pernille Fraser

#BetterEducationForNeurodivergentLearners #BetterEducationalForThoseWithInvisableDisabilities


©2022 Pernille Fraser