Neurodiversity in the Classroom

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Neurodiversity is an equity imperative and is critical in shifting the culture of teaching and learning.

 “Neurodiversity is Human Diversity: An Equity Imperative for Education” in the International Journal for Talent Development and Creativity (Volume 10, Number 2, December, 2022) IJTDC Journal – IJTDC 10(1&2) 2022

We offer several series and courses on neurodiversity in the classroom. This is what our community of neurodivergent and disabled people wants to say to educators. This is 100s of hours of free and open professional development, deeply and broadly sourced. Learn how to better treat and teach our loved people.

Education Access: We’ve Turned Classrooms Into a Hell for Neurodivergence

We have autistic children who need us to support them as architects of their own liberation against the schools and clinicians and institutions and police and prosecutors who would crush and destroy them.

AUTISTIC HOYA: THE NEURODIVERSITY MOVEMENTS NEEDS ITS SHOES OFF, AND FISTS UP.

Enter many SpEd classrooms, and you’ll see little awareness of neurodiversity and the social model of disability. Students with conflicting sensory needs and accommodations are squished together with no access to cave, campfire, or watering hole zones. This sensory environment feeds the overwhelm -> meltdown -> burnout cycle. Feedback loops cascade. “Mind blindneurotypical adults call across the room, feeding the overwhelm. They ratchet compliance, feeding the overwhelm. They treat meltdowns as attention-seeking “fits”, feeding the overwhelm. They not only fail to presume competence, they speak about kids as if they aren’t even there, feeding the overwhelm. The familiar yet wrong things are done.

Education Access: We’ve Turned Classrooms Into a Hell for Neurodivergence

The neurodiversity and disability rights movements well-understand the ubiquity of behaviorism, and its tremendous costs.

Behaviorist education is ableist education.

When your kid is DXed as autistic, almost all of the professional advice you get from education and healthcare is steeped in deficit ideology and the pathology paradigm.

The unhealthiness, unhelpfulness, and disconnectedness of this worldview leads some to consult autistic adults. Then, you discover neurodiversity and the social model of disability. And then, maybe, intersectionality, design for real life, and equity literate education. And then you find yourself in the healthier framing of structural ideology that is better for your kid and better for the systems and institutions that you’re now trying to improve.

Education Access: We’ve Turned Classrooms Into a Hell for Neurodivergence

The Need: Anti-Ableist Space for Human-Centered Learning

My kids have been kicked out of many, many places for being different—just like I was.

The question is simple: Is there room for disabled kids at a piano school? On a swim team? In most classrooms?

The answer, right now, seems to be no.

Catapult | The World Doesn’t Bend for Disabled Kids (or Disabled Parents)

The need for anti-ableist learning space for neurodivergent and disabled people is now.

We create anti-ableist space for passion-based, human-centered learning compatible with neurodiversity and the social model of disability. We create space for those most ill-served by “empty pedagogy, behaviorism, and the rejection of equity“. We create paths to equity and access for our learners so they can collaborate on distributed, multi-age, cross-disciplinary teams with a neurodiverse array of creatives doing work that impacts community.

The Need: Anti-Ableist Space for Human-Centered Learning

We have created a system that has you submit yourself, or your child, to patient hood to access the right to learn differently. The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis.

The Gift: Learning Disabilities Reframed

Classroom UX: Designing for Pluralism

Since reading NeuroTribes, we think of psychologically & sensory safe spaces suited to zone work as “Cavendish bubbles” and “Cavendish space”, after Henry Cavendish, the wizard of Clapham Common and discoverer of hydrogen. The privileges of nobility afforded room for his differences, allowing him the space and opportunity to become “one of the first true scientists in the modern sense.”

Cavendish Space: psychologically & sensory safe spaces suited to zone work, intermittent collaboration, and collaborative niche construction.

Let’s build psychologically safe homes of opportunity without the requirement of nobility or privilege. Replace the trappings of the compliance classroom with student-created context, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and BYOC (Bring/Build Your Own Comfort). Let’s hit thrift stores, buy lumber, apply some hacker ethos, and turn the compliance classroom into something psychologically safe and comfortable to a team of young minds engaged in passion-based learning. Inform spaces with neurodiversity and the social model of disability so that they welcome and include all minds and bodies. Provide quiet spaces for high memory state zone work where students can escape sensory overwhelm, slip into flow states, and enjoy a maker’s schedule. Provide social spaces for collaboration and camaraderie. Create cave, campfire, and watering hole zones. Develop neurological curb cuts. Fill our classrooms with choice and comfort, instructional tolerance, continuous connectivity, and assistive technology. In other words, make space for Cavendish. Make spaces for both collaboration and deep work.

Classroom UX: Designing for Pluralism

Space: The place where we belong does not exist. We will build it.

A human-centered classroom is needed now more than ever. In a time of growing uncertainty, global challenges, and increased threats to democracy, children need space to question, reflect, and actualize a meaning to their lives. These young people, along with their educators, will build a new future of love, care, and respect for all.

A Guide to Human Centric Education

Stimpunks Space offers community and space for passion-based, human-centered learning with purpose. Our learners collaborate on distributed, multi-age, cross-disciplinary teams with a neurodiverse array of creatives doing work that impacts community. Via equity, access, empathy, and inclusivity, we create anti-ableist space compatible with neurodiversity, the social model of disability, and all types of bodyminds. We create space for the neurodivergent and disabled people most ill-served by “empty pedagogy, behaviorism, and the rejection of equity“.

Online, we bring safety to the serendipity with our distributed community and communication stack. Chance favors the connected mind. Our learners connect using 1:1 laptops and indie ed-tech. We give our learners real laptops with real capabilities, and we fill those laptops with assistive tech and tools of the trades.

Offline, our learners enjoy fresh air, daylight, large muscle movement, and the freedom to stim and play.

We provide Cavendish space of peer respite and collaborative niche construction where our learners can find relief from an intense world designed against us.

Space: The place where we belong does not exist. We will build it.

Give your kids the gift of daylight.

In order to maintain healthy attention kids need three things that are often in short supply in schools — fresh air, large muscle movement, and daylight. One of the easiest to fix, in many schools, is daylight.

How Will You Redesign Your School Over The Next Six Months?

DIY at the Edges: Surviving the Bipartisanship of Behaviorism by Rolling Our Own

Thorndike won, and Dewey lost. I don’t think you can understand the history of education technology without realizing this either. And I’d propose an addendum to this too: you cannot understand the history of education technology in the United States during the twentieth century – and on into the twenty-first – unless you realize that Seymour Papert lost and B. F. Skinner won.

B. F. SKINNER: THE MOST IMPORTANT THEORIST OF THE 21ST CENTURY

Behaviorism is dead.

Despite that, 

Behaviorism won.

And neurodivergent and disabled students lost.

Behaviorism is everywhere. The All Means All of public education is made meaningless by the bipartisanship of behaviorism. The neurodiversity and disability rights movements well-understand the ubiquity of behaviorism, and its tremendous costs.

This course fights against behaviorist practices in the classroom.

DIY at the Edges: Surviving the Bipartisanship of Behaviorism by Rolling Our Own

Reframing Learning: How We Use Caves, Campfires, and Watering Holes to Nurture Intrinsic Motivation, Enter Flow States, and make Rock ’n’ Roll

DIY at the Edges: Surviving the Bipartisanship of Behaviorism by Rolling Our Own

Six Things Educators Must Know About Neurodivergent People

Here are six things we think every educator must know about neurodivergent people. By understanding these, we make “all means all” more meaningful.

  • Spiky Profiles
  • Monotropism
  • Double Empathy Problem
  • Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
  • Exposure Anxiety
  • Situational Mutism
Six Things Educators Must Know About Neurodivergent People

Five Ways to Welcome All Bodyminds to Your Learning Event

We have detailed accessibility checklists and recommendations in our course “Enable Dignity: The Accommodations for Natural Human Variation Should Be Mutual“, but for this piece we reduce down to five things you can learn and do to welcome all bodyminds to your learning event.

  • Create real access pages.
  • Create Cavendish Space with caves, campfires, and watering holes.
  • Provide interaction badges.
  • Offer bodymind affirmations and provide outlets for stimming, pacing, fidgeting, and retreating.
  • Ensure there is quiet space and outdoor space that people can access at any time.
Five Ways to Welcome All Bodyminds to Your Learning Event

The Five Neurodivergent Love Languages

The five neurodivergent love languages:

  • Infodumping
  • Penguin Pebbling
  • Parallel Play, Body Doubling
  • Support Swapping, Sharing Spoons
  • Please Crush My Soul Back Into My Body, Deep Pressure Input Good

Emotional bids are the pixels of relationship communications and are important to relationship accommodations. This list is much about recognizing and meeting some common neurodivergent emotional bids in relationships, thus the phrase “love languages”.

Infodumping, parallel play, support swapping, and penguin pebbling are languages of teamwork and collaboration too, especially in distributed work cultures and “communication is oxygen” cultures. If only there were a distributed and work-appropriate equivalent for “Please Crush My Soul Back Into My Body”.

Learn about these love languages, and notice them in your school.

The Five Neurodivergent Love Languages

It’s Not Rocket Science: Ensure there is quiet space and outdoor space that people can access at any time.

Ensure there is quiet space and outdoor space that people can access at any time.

It’s Not Rocket Science: Considering and meeting the sensory needs of autistic children and young people

This is a list of useful research papers and Commissioned documents that have changed how we think about autistic people, and how we respond to their distress and their brain events.

Useful New Autism Info for Care Settings

Autism. Nearly 80 years on from the original misunderstandings in the 1940s.  So, what’s changed, in research?  Almost everything.

Autism: Some Vital Research Links

Just listen. It’s not rocket science, just listen.

Daisy

The number of autistic young people who stop attending mainstream schools appears to be rising.

My research suggests these absent pupils are not rejecting learning but rejecting a setting that makes it impossible for them to learn.

We need to change the circumstances.

Walk in My Shoes – The Donaldson Trust

Outside space. Many people find being outside and in natural very calming. Space to move away from other people, internal noises and distractions can be a good way to self-regulate. 

“I think things that are useful for autistic people would be beneficial for everyone. It would have stopped a lot of distress for a lot of people if they can take themselves away and calm down.”
Emily 

A sensory room or de-stress room. Easy access to a quiet space to de-stress can be an enormously helpful tool for people to be able to self-manage. Ideally, this room will be away from areas where there is heavy footfall or other outside noise. Many people find neutral spaces beneficial, with the option of lights and other sensory stimulus. 

“I think you should just be able to walk into the sensory room instead of asking staff and waiting for them to unlock it.”
Jamie 

It’s Not Rocket Science: Considering and meeting the sensory needs of autistic children and young people

Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic retired technologist turned wannabe-sociologist. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they

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