Teachers and trainers in the Further Education and Training sector may be missing the potential of their learners with conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism by not thinking of them as examples of neurodiversity, according to Remploy’s Kath Wood.

In a new blog for the ETF website, she argues that the potential of significant numbers of learners, with both diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions, may be better served by a neurodiverse approach.

While recognising that resolving issues and managing difficulties have a place, she argues that it is also important to consider how making the most of strengths and characteristics associated with a neurodiverse condition – factors such as visual thinking, the ability to spot patterns and themes, and creativity – can help individuals achieve their potential.

This understanding, she says, should take into account what works for individual learners including their communication style, the learning environment, group dynamics and how support and teaching are structured.

Kath said:

“The prevalence of neurodiverse conditions is often underestimated, either because they are not spotted or are concealed by learners who have developed coping strategies. The truth is that the incidence of conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia is far greater than many believe.

“Recognising this is the first step to helping learners with these conditions, but equally important is the way we approach them. Thinking about them as examples of neurodiversity and recognising the attributes learners with them have can transform teaching and learning by enabling us to identify and realise hidden potential.

“Whether you have students with already-identified SEN or not, I encourage all teachers and trainers to think carefully about this issue and seek further training and support to ensure they are maximising all of their students’ potential.”

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