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What Is…Neurodiversity? Ways to Support our Neurodivergent Community

Posted: 21st March 2024 - 6:02pm

In this second blog highlighting Neurodiversity Celebration Week, we ask James Keith, Higher Education Teacher Development Lead what ways we can support neurodivergent staff and students at Loughborough College.

Check out his invaluable advice on getting to know neurodivergent colleagues and learners, and easy hints and tips for communicating in a more effective way.

What ways can we at Loughborough College support neurodiverse staff and students?

Many academics, organisations, and individuals will begin with a sound piece of advice – “Get to know your colleagues and students, and if they are neurodivergent, recognise their unique strengths and how these can be utilised.”

Whilst no two people are the same, there are some good tips for support or adjustments that might support our neurodivergent community.

Use clear communication

Instructions and feedback should be straightforward, and available in different formats, like written or verbal, to allow individuals to access information in their preferred format.

Start with the person, not the ‘disorder’

If you have a colleague or student who is autistic, for example, don’t assume that they will benefit from the same support, have the same strengths as a friend/ someone else you know with autism. Speak to them about what works for them and give them the chance to share their own perspectives.

Provide summaries and key details

Summaries of conversations, meeting actions or notes can be useful for individuals to ‘talk through’ their thoughts, understanding and questions. It can also be really useful to share calendars with important deadlines and dates made clear. Consider highlighted sections of key documents to support processing.

Consider the working environment

Sometimes, neurodivergent people can be sensitive to sounds, temperatures, light, textures, and smells. Whilst this can be tricky to navigate, there might be some adaptations that could be made in certain environments, or with specific equipment, such as headphones, fidget toys, or a quiet area, that might benefit staff members.

Attend CPD & learn more!

There is a wealth of information, tools, and resources that can support you to understand even more about neurodiversity. Sometimes speaking to others and sharing challenges, strategies, and resources is a great starting point to consider how you and your practices can be developed for a more accessible and inclusive community.