Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Neurodiversity - A Thing We Can No Longer Deny

There were nine million bicycles in Beijing back in 2005, or at least that is what Katie Melua told us in her first single for her second album. Was it really a fact? I really have no idea, but I do know that even if it were, that number would be a lot higher today. We live in a fascinating and diverse world with an ever growing population which currently stands at 7.8 billion. If the population increases, everything else increases with it, and increase it has since the days of  '9 Million Bikes'. 

    Whilst some statistics are fascinating, others are a shocking realisation   

But our world does not stop with bikes. It is also a world of statistics and numbers, and whilst some are common knowledge, others could be fascinating or even a downright shocking realisation. I'm sure that you do not need me to tell you, for instance, that the most typical person today is right handed. But, did you know that the world's population, if standing shoulder to shoulder, could fit within the 500 square miles of Los Angeles, or that:

  • Our population amounts to 7% of the amount of people that have ever lived 
  • Half of the world's population is only just over 30 years old
  • The average salary on a global scale is less than $18,000 a year
  • The typical person has a cell phone but not a bank account

                                The world is not always equal or fair                                  

Yes, society has made huge advances towards equality but it is not always equal or fair. This is particularly evident in the world of education. Here's why.

  • Between 30% & 40% of the population are considered to be neurodiverse but fewer than 50% know it
  • 35% of people with learning difficulties become school dropouts
  • 4% of students in undergraduate courses are neurodiverse, but only 2% manage to complete the whole program
  • 55% of prison inmates have a learning difficulty
There is a lot of awareness regarding special educational needs, but awareness alone is not enough to give children a meaningful learning and life experience. Schools and teachers need to adapt their teaching according to their students' needs rather than expect their students to adapt to the needs of the school and the teacher. But how do we do that? 

                                    5 Tips that could get you started                                     

There is no easy answer and I cannot see the drastic changes that need to take place happening any time soon. In the meantime, here are 5 tips that could get you started .

  • Work with where the learners are as opposed to where they should be - When we work in this way, we create a safer environment for the learners, they achieve more and will be motivated to go further.
  • Strengthen their strengths whilst developing their weaknesses - Working with their strengths rather then just focusing on their weaknesses will get them to believe in themselves more and develops a higher self-esteem. 
  • Use multisensory techniques - Not everyone learns in the same way. When learners interact with the content being taught in different ways, they use the 3 primary senses that correspond with the visual, auditory and motor memory, allowing them to develop each of the sensory systems. 
  • Involve the learners - When we involve learners in the learning process, they become more engaged with what they are doing. It also increases their attention and focus which, in turn, will lead to a more meaningful learning experience.
  • Focus on skills rather than content - remember that not all children develop at the same time. Our academic skills need to be at the same level of the content for us to process and absorb it, so it would be futile to try to teach certain things if our brain is not ready for it. It will simply not engage us. What do I mean by this? If a child is having a problem with staying focused for long periods of time, don't do things that require this. but rather start with say something that requires the learner to stay focused for 5 minutes - or whatever their attention span is - and increase it gradually over a period of time. 

Visit our website and avail yourself of various free resources that can be used both in and out of the classroom. 

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