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  • Writer's pictureAlley Dezenhouse Kelner

Neurodiversity in the classroom.

Lately I’ve been talking less and listening more. ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

I’ve been listening to hear, not to respond and at times it’s taken me out of my comfort zone. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some ideas I wish I had been taught sooner through the lens of educational practices that reflect a commitment to respect for diversity. Listening to and truly hearing the voices (all of them, not just the ones I agree with) is just one way I’ll be showing up 🙌 So, this is my promise to my students, their families, and to all of you—come as you are, comes without caveats.

The first of these thoughts is that we need to be moving unapologetically towards the idea that all are welcome in an educational (or really any) institution and that this is extended universally and without caveats and without qualms. We like to say, in passing, that all are welcome (naturally, as educators we are passionate and dedicated to equality)—but are we really showing up for equity? Are we really showing up for our neurodiverse students? Are we really putting the same quality and care into their education even when it's hard, even when it takes looking beyond our own experiences and perceptions? We need to.

Many of us were taught through the lens of privilege; not just racial but also ableist privilege. We were taught by well-intentioned and often  highly educated individuals that preparing our students, our clients, for the world around them meant teaching them to fit into a mold that wasn't designed for them; to "bridge the gap" between neurodiverse and neurotypical. While adaptability, flexibility and resilience are importance for maturation and self-development, so are knowing your true self, knowing how to self-advocate and knowing when NOT to bend to fit someone else's opinion of what should be. Instead of "bridging" the gap, let's "mind" the gap. Let's see it, recognize it, and frankly—celebrate it. In the educational world we like the use the analogy of the crayon box—we're all different colours and that's beautiful, right?

But what if your student isn't a crayon at all?

Are they still welcome in your crayon box? In your classroom?

I sure hope so. 

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