Tips to Support Neurodiverse Students in the Classroom
We know just how necessary it is for neurodiverse folks to have full support from all those involved in their daily lives. It’s especially important in the earlier years for students to have been supported both inside and outside of the classroom. Therapists and Educators are essential to students’ success and growth and life, we wholeheartedly believe that individuals who work with students daily are a key component to their academic and social-emotional success. If you’re still wondering where to start with all of this, we teamed up with the wonderful NYC-based organization Tech Kids Unlimited to help answer the most common questions in supporting neurodiverse students in the classroom!
What tips do you have for educators with neurodiverse students, and how they can personally support/advocate for their students?
We think that the most important thing you can do to support and advocate for your students is to stay informed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what they need and don’t assume you know best. Research best practices, listen to self-advocates, and try to engage as much as you can with the community you are trying to work with.
How do you plan out an achievable schedule to support your neurodivergent students?
Our program is specifically designed to provide technical instruction and programming to neurodivergent students. We ask our students and families to share feedback with us regularly so programs increasingly reflect our learning community’s needs, interests, and goals. We try to remain flexible and balance workshop topics that reflect shifts in interest (ie: School’s Out Memes, Code a Holiday Card) with important tidbits about digital citizenship, what it means to work with real clients and other tools for a future in tech and career readiness in general.
Do you have any common issues you have encountered, and how do you go about dealing with them?
I think one common issue is that sometimes students do not accept themselves or get down on themselves for their differences. We have a strength-based model and actively encourage students to recognize their strengths. We address mistakes from a growth mindset perspective rather than being punitive or dwelling on an error. Most importantly, we acknowledge that everyone brings unique experiences, has different learning needs, and learns at their own pace. We try to highlight this fact and make our classrooms adaptable to all of our students.
Who do you collaborate with to best support your neurodivergent students?
Our amazing staff works directly with our students. We provide professional development to them regularly so that they can stay informed and actively contemplate how best to work with students. One unique thing we do is work with social workers who are part of every classroom. They help with social/emotional challenges in the class and add extra support. We also bring in guest speakers from the tech industry and neurodiverse self-advocates to share their experiences and perspectives with students.
What do you feel is the best thing you can do to support your neurodiverse students?
We believe the best thing you can do is engage with them as you would any student. Ask them how their day is going, what their favorite movies are, what they like to do for fun. Ask them what is working and what isn’t to support self-understanding and confidence in expressing their own needs and interests. Meeting them where they are and being actively engaged with them is the most important thing to making them feel accepted and supported.
What is Tech Kids Unlimited?
Tech Kids Unlimited is on a mission to empower neurodiverse students’ lives through computer science and technology skills. An NYC-based not-for-profit educational organization, TKU inspires digital natives with disabilities to create, develop, and share the tools of technology in a supportive individualized environment. By addressing gaps in access to accessible educational experiences with technology, TKU strives to change the paradigm for education and employment for neurodiverse students.
TKU inspires neurodiverse students to learn computer science principles and technology skills. Help bring TKU programs to more students. We encourage you to check them out and donate if you have the means to do so! (link: https://www.techkidsunlimited.org/donate)
Donate to Tech Kids Unlimited