Griffith College Library

Supporting Neurodiversity

National Forum Seminar Series 2020/21:

Supporting Students with Neurological Differences in the Classroom - Promoting diversity and inclusion of neurodiverse students within Higher Education

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Change One Thing Logo
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Griffith College Learning Support and Griffith Library collaborated on hosting a National Forum seminar on promoting diversity and inclusion of neurodiverse students within Higher Education. The goal was to celebrate neurodiversity, and promote how it can be harnessed to encourage greater engagement and creativity within the learning environment.

This page houses the recording of the conference, and the Change One Thing repository of online resources, compiled to support further engagement in supporting neurodiverse students both inside and outside of the classroom.


Panelists

Expert speakers, Fiona Ferris: Deputy CEO of AsIAm, Ireland's National Autism Charity and Advocacy Organisation and Nicola James: CEO and founding director of Lexxic, discuss the many strengths of neurodiverse learners that can add to wider creativity within the classroom. They outline the challenges regularly faced by this cohort and consider how barriers can be addressed and supported.

Presentations

Nicola James: Empowering Neurodiverse Students

Fiona Ferris: Creating an Inclusive Culture at Third Level

Orla Butler, Learning Support Coordinator and Lecturer in Inclusive Curriculum Design on Griffith's MA in Education, Learning and Development.

Dimphne Ní Bhraonáin, Deputy Librarian, Griffith College.

Webinar Link

What does neurodiversity mean to you? Griffith learners who identify as neurodivergent were invited to submit words and phrases that convey to them the meaning of the term. Seminar attendees were also asked to consider their understanding of the term. The word clouds below compare these dual perspectives.

Learners Word Cloud
Griffith Learner's Word Cloud
Attendees Word Cloud
Seminar Attendee's Word Cloud
Participant Feedback

“This was a superb seminar that was conducted in an informal, inclusive manner. The two speakers were informative and insightful”  

Very practical solutions offered that I can immediately implement into my work and engagement with students. “    

“Change One Thing resource - excellent way to prompt and encourage action based on key points learned”  

“identification of the variety of available resources and the contextualisation was hugely welcomed (and positive)”  

“I will consult the open repository and more. I will be much more positive when dealing with students with neurodiverse differences.”   

 “An event like this really focusses and brings into the light, the energy required to affect real change in our institutions.”  

It has given me a better understanding of the needs of my students and busted some of the ‘myths; around neurological differences.”  


Change One Thing

Change One Thing - Repository of Resources Supporting Neurodiverse Learners

To compliment the seminar, Change One Thing is a collection of online resources supporting the implementation of practical, immediate changes to teaching practice in support of neurodiverse learners.

Identifying areas in which to change teaching practices can be daunting. However, it is important to keep in mind that every change has the potential to be meaningful to a learner. Once a starting point can be identified, each step may be built on to scaffold a more inclusive, flexible and engaging learning environment.

To help identify an achievable starting point to creating meaningful change, we have gathered together a range of openly available online resources to help prompt areas for potential development. This is by no means an exhaustive collection, but we hope that it provides a useful orientation.

Recognising and celebrating neurodiversity in Higher Education

Neurodiversity is an umbrella term, that can be used to describe neurological differences such as dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, autistic spectrum and Tourette syndrome. It acknowledges natural human variations, and advocates an embracing of the benefits that different thinking can bring.

Neurodiversity in the classroom

Students with neurodiversities bring with them a valuable set of perspectives to higher education. Educators have a significant role to play in facilitating and highlighting the contribution and creativity that these students bring to the classroom.

By recognising variations among learners as normal and valuable, faculty can create an inclusive and holistic learning environment, widening student participation and supporting retention. Likewise, by understanding challenges facing neurodiverse learners, barriers to their contributing and engaging within the classroom can be significantly reduced.

Video Student Voices on Teaching and Learning, Ahead, Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities, 2015

Ahead asked students what they thought of current teaching and learning practice and how it could be improved.

Neurodiverse Students - Strengths and Challenges 

Click for Strength and Weaknesses - Click to open full image in a new window
Neurodiverse Students - Strengths and Challenges  - Click to open full image in a new window
Understanding neurodiverse learners  

Inclusive Classrooms and Teaching Strategies

Pdf PosterChallenges faced by autistic students from: Fabri, M., Andrews, P.C.S. and Pukki, H.K. (2016) A Guide to Best Practice in Supporting Higher Education Students on the Autism Spectrum – for HE Lecturers and Tutors, P 3.  


Website

Inclusive Teaching Strategies, AHEAD: Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

Ahead presents inclusive strategies that support all students, including students with 'hidden disabilities', so they have equitable access to the learning environment.


Play Button

Understanding Asperger Syndrome: A Professor’s Guide, (2014), Organization for Autism Research

This video on Asperger Syndrome focuses on educating faculty, learning support and others on what it means to be a college student on the spectrum, and discusses how they might best be able to help these learners succeed.


WebsiteTransition to University Resource for Academic and Professional StaffNeurodiversity Hub.

While this resource is designed to support autistic students, much of the information and resources also apply to students with other neurodiverse variations struggling with the transition to higher education - support strategies; reasonable adjustments and accommodations.


WebsiteBest Practice Guides for professionals supporting autistic students in Higher Education (2016), Autism&Uni

Takeaways: insights, ideas and prompts for making a positive change and good practice to share with colleagues

Calls to action: direct action you can take immediately and without the help of others


BlogBax, K. Guidance: Designing Learning for Autistic and Neurodiverse Students, 2020, OpenTEL.

This guide aims to help raise awareness of some of the barriers autistic people may experience, and to help educators design learning, activities, tutorials and assessment that can help autistic students demonstrate their potential on a more level playing field. It was collaboratively created with a range of OU staff and students; people with lived experience of autism and of supporting autistic people in learning, and people with research expertise in autism in higher education contexts.


Online Article

Rentenbach, B., Prislovsky, L. and Gabriel, R. (2017) ‘Valuing Differences:: Neurodiversity in the Classroom’. Phi Delta Kappan, 98(8), pp. 59–63. DOI: 10.1177/0031721717708297.

"Drawing on their own experiences as students, researchers, and educators, the authors discuss how teachers can build on the skills and talents of neurodiverse learners"

Inclusive Assessments

Website

Inclusive Assessment, University of Plymouth
Research-informed resources, guidance and videos about inclusive teaching and learning and assessment design. to support design of an equitable, supported assessment experience for all students

PDF Poster7 Steps to: Inclusive Assessment, (2014), University of Plymouth\
Practical guidance and tips to incorporating inclusive assessment into modules and programmes, so that assessment enables rather than hinders students’ learning.

WebsiteCAST (2020). UDL Tips for Assessment. Wakefield, MA

Using the lens of CAST’s Universal Design for Learning, this resource provides a practical guide to reflecting on whether an assessment accurately and equitably assesses learners' attainment of learning outcomes, be it through remote learning environments or in a face-to-face experience.


WebsiteUDL and Assessment,UDL On Campus, CAST
This resource provides an overview of the Types of Assessment, a section on Assessing Variable Learners, examples of Construct Relevance, and a section about the UDL Principles and Assessment.

Creating inclusive teaching resources

QUB Thrives accessibility - Click to open in new window
QUB Thrives accessibility - Click to open in new window

The Centre for Educational Development (CED) in Queens University Belfast designed the THRIVES acronym to help you to easily remember key accessibility considerations. The THRIVES image has seven basics to get you started on your accessibility journey and is an easy way to recall the fundamentals of accessibility, that can be easily printed, and includes an audio file.


PDF PosterGalvin, T. Accessibility Checklist for Course Content. QUB Centre for Educational Development. Queens University Belfast,
This checklist was developed for staff (both academic and non-academic) to develop accessible and inclusive content for example: text documents, PowerPoint slides, videos, flyers, infographics, web content, blogs, emails and content embedded into the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment).

WebsiteCreating Accessible Documents, AHEAD, Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

Making electronic documents that you produce accessible is both the easiest and most effective way to increase ease of access to lecture notes, guidelines and any other written material you produce for students. The key is to get into the mindset of adding the accessibility features at the creation stage.


PDF Poster Dos and Don’ts on Designing for Accessibility (2016), Designing for accessibility, Accessibility in Government, UK

Six guideline posters on the dos and don'ts of designing for accessibility - catering to users from: low vision, D/deaf and hard of hearing, dyslexia, motor disabilities, users on the autistic spectrum and users of screen readers.


WebsiteHow to design visual learning resources for neurodiverse students, Guidelines designers should consider when creating learning resources. Full Fabric

Guidelines that designers of educational resources should consider when creating learning resources.


WebsiteAccessible Design for Learner Variability: Presentations. (2020) Digital Learning @ Queens.

A great resource, which makes approaching accessibility considerations when designing presentations look easy and achievable.

Creating Accessible Video Content

WebsiteWhat Makes for High Quality Accessible Videos?, National Center on Accessible Educational Materials, CAST
Guidelines for quality captioned and described content, and sources of quality captioned and described content you can start using right away to support students’ learning.

VideoConverting your PowerPoint into video and uploading to YouTube, (2020), Digital Accessibility Webinar Series #7, AHEAD,

This online session is live demonstration to the steps needed to prepare your presentation then convert it into video, with accessibility in mind, and then how to upload it to YouTube for the possibility of creating a transcript from the video.


VideoAccessible Videos (2019) Directed by UCD Access and Lifelong Learning
UCD Access & Lifelong Learning Mini Masterclass in Accessible Videos. Learn some simple tips to make sure your videos are as accessible as possible for your audiences.

Assistive Technologies

Assistive technologies can empower learners to reach to their fullest potential, giving them an opportunity to work and learn on their own terms.

WebsiteAT Hive - An Assistive Technology Resource, AHEAD.
This is an excellent resource from Ahead, with many recommendations on assistive technologies that can guide learners through a wide range of readily available resources. These can greatly assist in areas such as note-taking, approaches to reading, effective writing, recording information, organisation tools, collaborating effectively online

WebsiteNatural Readers: Text to Speech Online
Natural Reader is a professional text to speech program that converts any written text into spoken words.
Recommended video guides on a range of assistive technology videos.

App IconNeurodiversity (ND) App: The Neurodiversity Strengths and Challenges Screener

Identify personal strengths and any challenges associated with Dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, Developmental Coordination Disorder(DCD)/Dyspraxia or Developmental Language Disorder(DLD).

WebsiteSEN - ICT and Assistive Technology | National Council for Special Education - CPD and In-School Support.
Recommendations for Irish software suppliers and Assistive Technology websites.

Website
Microsoft Accessibility Features / Neurodiversity. Accessibility.

 

Built in tools to make remote learning more accessible for students who live with dyslexia, seizures, autism, or other cognitive differences.

 


Why Does Accessibility Matter? (2020) Digital Learning @ Queens.
Accessibility promotes equality, diversity and inclusion. Accessibility is not the responsibility of any one department, school, team or directorate, but involves a combined whole institution approach, where everyone strives to be more accessible. Hear QUB academic, Dr Laura Michael talk about what digital accessibility means to her in this video below.


Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Universal Design for Learning Framework, CAST

The UDL framework guides the design of instructional goals, assessments, methods, and materials that can be customised and adjusted to meet individual needs.

Universal Design supporting neurodiverse learners:

The key to teaching a single curriculum to a diverse group of students who learn differently is to be flexible with the delivery of information and to provide the same content in different formats. For example, many students like to digest information in the form of concise bullet pointed text, while others (e.g. students with Dyslexia) might prefer to receive information as a visual representation such as a mind map or graph/chart. So why not provide the same information in both formats giving students with different learning styles an equal chance to process the information - this is essentially what Universal Design for Learning is all about. (AHEAD, Inclusive Teaching Strategies)

Digital Badge in UDL, National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

The Digital Badge on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) was developed for the National Forum by AHEAD and UCD Access & Lifelong Learning. The concept of the badge is to provide materials and a course design which individual institutions can then roll out with interested parties in their own institution.

Speech

Neurodiversity Is a Strength with Gloria Niles, Think UDL Podcast, Lillian Nave.

ThinkUDL is a podcast about Universal Design for Learning where we hear from the people who are designing and implementing strategies in post-secondary settings with learner variability in mind.

"Join host, Lillian Nave, as she discovers not just  her guests are teaching, learning, guiding and facilitating, but how they design and implement it, and why it even matters,"

Traditional V UDL Classrooms

Universal Design For Learning: Fostering Neurodiversity, Equity, And Inclusivity Through Educational Technology

Further links and reading

Websites
Ahead: Promotes inclusive environments in education and employment in Ireland, with a focus on further education and training, higher education and graduate employment.
AsIAm:National Autism charity and advocacy organisation
ADHD Ireland: Their mission is to make life better for people affected by ADHD
Aspire Ireland: Offering support and information to people who have Asperger’s Syndrome and their families in Ireland
Do It Profiler:  Shares current understanding and research findings. Provides a range of free resources in different formats, regularly updated to enhance understanding in the field of Neurodiversity.
Dyslexia Ireland: works with and for people affected by dyslexia, by providing information, offering appropriate support services, engaging in advocacy and raising awareness of dyslexia.
Dyspraxia Ireland:A charity that raises awareness of Dyspraxia/DCD in Ireland. creating a better understanding of the difficulties people with Dyspraxia/DCD and their families face
Irish Society for Autism: An established dedicated organisation for people with Autism in Ireland
Neurodiversity Network: Materials on neurodiversity news in the media, scholarly neurodiversity journal reviews, along with some comprehensive neurodiversity websites.
Reports
Hynes, E, Ryder, D, 2018, Numbers of Students with Disabilities Studying in Higher Education in Ireland 2016/17, Ahead: Association for Higher Education Access and Disability,

DCU Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion in partnership with Indeed, 2020, Hiring Managers’ Toolkit for Neurodiversity, Dublin City University

Sweeney, D.M.R. et al. 2019, Living with Autism as a University Student at Dublin City University: Developing an Autism Friendly University, AsIAm and Dublin City University

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