Neurodiversity is a term used to describe the range of neurological differences among individuals, including conditions such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD, and others. From a school’s perspective, it is essential to acknowledge the diversity in the learning abilities within students and provide support which is reflective of their needs.
Children who are neurodivergent can face a number of challenges. They may struggle with social skills, sensory processing, communication, and executive functioning. They may also have difficulty with traditional academic tasks such as reading, writing, and math. While these differences can present challenges in certain areas, they also come with unique strengths and perspectives. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of neurodiversity and how it needs to be accepted in schools by others.
It’s also important to recognise that accommodations and support for neurodivergent children can look different for each individual. This might include things like extra time on tests, preferential seating, or a modified curriculum or additional support from learning assistants. As a school, we understand that each child has different learning needs, and we strive to create an inclusive environment that caters to these requirements. We aim to provide a safe and supportive learning space for all students, regardless of their neurological differences.
Within school we have many neurodiverse learners, however, there is minimal funding streams available to support these learners’ needs, making it challenging for schools to cater to their unique requirements. Many of these learners require additional resources such as assistive technology, specialised teaching materials, and individualised support from learning specialists.
At Ararira, we have implemented a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) model, which is a framework for designing curricula and instructional practices that meet the needs of all learners, including those with neurodivergent conditions. In addition to this we are fortunate to have our Board of Trustees fund additional learning assistants who work across the school in a range of roles, supporting teachers and akonga in the classroom. This can be in the form of individual instruction or taking different groups so the class teacher can provide additional support to tamariki who need it.
We like to celebrate diversity at Ararira and acknowledging that we are all different, is an important aspect of our school tikanga.