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Student Experiences of Neurodiversity in Higher Education: Insights from the BRAINHE Project

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Abstract

The number of students with identified learning differences (LDs) of all kinds is increasing in higher education. This qualitative study explored the experiences of 27 current and previous students with a range of specific LDs by means of semi-structured interviews, using a thematic approach. The findings revealed that participants shared many life experiences and preferences for learning irrespective of their type of LD. Participants generally held one of two views about their identity as 'neurodiverse': a 'difference' view--where neurodiversity was seen as a difference incorporating a set of strengths and weaknesses, or a 'medical/deficit' view--where neurodiversity was seen as a disadvantageous medical condition. The former view was associated with expressions of greater career ambition and academic self-esteem, while the latter view was associated more with processes for obtaining the Disabled Students' Allowance. Many of the participants reported similar experiences in education and with university support; many did not feel adequately supported by their institutions. Recommendations are made for increased awareness training among lecturers and better liaison between university departments.

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... Drawing on the recently emerging movement of neurodiversity and on the social model of learning difference, proponents of this notion call for understanding invisible disabilities as 'neurological differences' (e.g. Armstrong, 2011Armstrong, , 2012Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Lawson, 2001Lawson, , 2006Martin, 2009;Pollak, 2009;Symonds, 2009). My contention is that such claims deserve careful scrutiny. ...
... Drawing on the recently emerging movement of neurodiversity and on the social model of learning difference, proponents of this notion call for understanding invisible disabilities as 'neurological differences' (e.g. Armstrong, 2011Armstrong, , 2012Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Lawson, 2001Lawson, , 2006Martin, 2009;Pollak, 2009;Symonds, 2009). My contention is that such claims deserve careful scrutiny. ...
... To be sure, efforts of applying the concept of neurodiversity in higher education by a number of authors (e.g. Pollak, 2009;Armstrong, 2011Armstrong, , 2012 should be commended for attempting to contribute a positive view of students diagnosed with neurological diagnoses by (a) emphasizing social and therefore anti-deficit view of disability, (b) valuing the diversity of neurodiverse students contributing to body of learners and teaching process, (c) promoting implementation of rules and tools of Universal Design for Instruction and other nontraditional methods of instruction and assessment, and (d) increasing awareness of neurodiversity and embracing it as a part of human diversity. However, though advocates of the neurodiversity approach endorse the social model of disability, thus rejecting in principle individualistic views of disability (and of human nature in general), they nonetheless contradict their own efforts as they unwittingly continue to rely on individualistic notion of human mind and learning. ...
Article
Higher education institutions are legally bound to provide equal educational opportunities for diverse learners, traditionally materialized as individualized accommodations. This paper contends that despite the growing interest and scholarship in implementing more inclusive pedagogy enabling access to education for all students (e.g. Universal Design for Learning), those efforts still fall short of systematically addressing intersecting, oppressive, and anti-ableist practices in the classrooms. I argue, that in order to develop a truly inclusive, equitable, socially just and transformative pedagogy and teaching practices, we need a theory that posits disability in the context of learning and development, the theory that integrates disability into human development in a manner that overcomes dichotomized and reductionist perspectives of disability and individualistic notions of learning. Drawing on my research on teaching and institutional practices for a student diagnosed with autism, analyzed through the lens of Critical Disability Studies in conjunction with Vygotsky’s theory of defectology and recent advances in cultural-historical activity theory, especially the Transformative Activist Stance (Stetsenko, 2016), this paper offers steps toward integrating these approaches into a transformative pedagogy framework for inclusive, equitable, and anti-ableist pedagogy for all learners.
... Therefore, this paper does not seek to position any of these students as in deficit but explores how they might be better supported to succeed within a system that is often not fully developed to meet their needs. Whilst anti-discrimination legislation such as the DDA (1995), since superseded by The Equality Act (2010), has led to many students applying for Higher Education Institutions in the UK (Griffin and Pollak, 2009). These students often face challenges in success after entering HEIs. ...
... Prior research highlights the impact of neurodivergence upon student's experiences. Griffin and Pollak (2009) highlight the complexity neurodivergence adds to the experiences of students. From their study of 27 current and previous HE students, they found that neurodivergent students are likely to come with prior negative experiences of formal education, which can shape their engagement with academic and support services. ...
... Whilst much progress had been made in HE since 2009, the recurrence of issues in more recent research suggests some of what they found is enduring (Kapp et al., 2013;Fletcher-Watson and Happé, 2019;Rosqvist et al., 2020). Griffin and Pollak (2009) also highlighted how HE has become increasingly aware and accommodating of neurodiversity but that there are gaps in communication between academic and support services. ...
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The higher education journey of any student in a distance learning university is a challenging one but this is more so for neurodivergent students. Neurodivergent students have been found to require both academic (Jackson et al. 2018; Ness 2013) and non-academic support (Gelbar et al. 2015) around them to enable to achieve and reach their academic goals. Access programs in The Open University have a widening participation agenda and enrol many Neurodivergent students with diagnoses of autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Asperger’s syndrome, and Dyspraxia. The study focused on the following three research questions: 1. What forms of support do neurodivergent students transitioning from Access to Level 1 study value? 2. What barriers to success may the current access curriculum create for neurodivergent students? 3. How can neurodivergent students transitioning from Access to level 1 be better supported? Students from the three access modules moving to any level 1 module were included in the sample. This paper focuses on the findings from the five remotely conducted in-depth interviews and an associated photo-elicitation task. Through a thematic analysis, a number of key themes were developed: Finding their own way, Support, quality of tutor support, wider systems of support, understanding assessment, facing new systems, the jump, language of learning and referencing issues. The paper explores these with examples and highlights how these might inform future practice to improve transitions for neurodivergent students. The paper also highlights the limitations institutional focused research with these groups places upon the scope of this kind of research.
... Following Singer's work, the neurodiversity movement was consolidated by autistic selfadvocates and activists, and was later on joined by individuals with other types of conditions that are "neurologically diverse"-or neurodivergent (ND), as opposed to "neurologically typical", or neurotypical (NT). Such conditions include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD/ADD), Learning Disabilities -also referred to as Learning Differences (e.g., Griffin & Pollak, 2009)-, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Tourette's Syndrome (Aftab, 2021;Doyle, 2020;Griffin & Pollak, 2009). Some conditions are not ubiquitously included under the ND umbrella, but are debated as potential forms of neurodivergence, including Epilepsy, Schizophrenia (Aftab, 2021), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (Mellifont, 2021), as well as acquired conditions (e.g., Traumatic Brain Injury) and conditions not scientifically recognized as disorders, such as Synaesthesia, Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS), Misophonia and the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) category (Dykhuizen, n.d.;Resnick, 2022). ...
... Following Singer's work, the neurodiversity movement was consolidated by autistic selfadvocates and activists, and was later on joined by individuals with other types of conditions that are "neurologically diverse"-or neurodivergent (ND), as opposed to "neurologically typical", or neurotypical (NT). Such conditions include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD/ADD), Learning Disabilities -also referred to as Learning Differences (e.g., Griffin & Pollak, 2009)-, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Tourette's Syndrome (Aftab, 2021;Doyle, 2020;Griffin & Pollak, 2009). Some conditions are not ubiquitously included under the ND umbrella, but are debated as potential forms of neurodivergence, including Epilepsy, Schizophrenia (Aftab, 2021), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (Mellifont, 2021), as well as acquired conditions (e.g., Traumatic Brain Injury) and conditions not scientifically recognized as disorders, such as Synaesthesia, Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS), Misophonia and the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) category (Dykhuizen, n.d.;Resnick, 2022). ...
... It is also possible to argue that students might be self-diagnosing their conditions with inaccurate labels. However, it is also known that many neurodivergent adults are only formally diagnosed after they identify their condition by themselves (Griffin & Pollak, 2009), and that neurodivergent patients are often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed by mental health professionals due to racial (Udonsi, 2022) and gender (Pachowicz, 2020) stereotypes that bias the implementation and interpretation of diagnostic criteria, limiting the possibility of an accurate diagnosis for minority groups. ...
Thesis
The purpose of this study is to examine the profile and mental health status of neurodivergent (ND) students in a large university sample (N = 2,206), as well as to examine how intersectionalities of neurodivergence with other minority statuses impact mental health and wellbeing. Participants were recruited to an online survey, and were coded based on their reported gender, sexual orientation, racial minority status, linguistic minority status, citizenship status, relationship preferences, religiosity, socioeducational profile and presence of neurodivergent and mental health conditions. Psychological distress was assessed with the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21) and the Everyday Discrimination Scale (EDS) was used to examine experiences of discrimination in racialized groups. Neurodivergent participants were more likely to belong to LGBTQ+ groups, to engage in non-conventional relationship dynamics and styles, and to engage in non-conventional academic and religious and spiritual paths. Women were more likely to self-identify as ND than men, and white participants were more likely to self-identify as ND than participants from racial minorities, which might reflect larger systemic and institutional factors. ND participants had on average higher scores in all three subscales of the DASS-21, but not in the EDS. Main and interaction effects in DASS-21 scores were observed between neurodivergence and gender, racial status and income, and main effects were observed between neurodivergence and sexual minority status. Both main and interaction effects were found between neurodivergence and racial and linguistic minority statuses in discrimination scores. Limitations and future directions are discussed, as well as clinical and institutional implications.
... 6;Van Hees, Moyson, and Roeyers, 2015), and academic skills (e.g., executive functioning, goal setting, planning, complete tasks; Bolourian, Zeedyk, and Blacher, 2018;Hillier et al., 2018). These challenges often coincide with mental health issues (e.g., loneliness, comorbidity, anxiety, and depression; A. H. Anderson, Carter, and Stephenson, 2018;E. Griffin and Pollak, 2009;Van Hees, Roeyers, and De Mol, 2018), leading to avoidance of participation, procrastination and delays, and lower graduation rates (Robertson & Ne'eman, 2008;Vincent, 2019). ...
... H. Anderson, Carter, & Stephenson, 2018;Berry et al., 2006), promoting understanding and acceptance of autistic students by peers and staff (Sarrett, 2017), alternative teaching and assessment (E. Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Jansen et al., 2016), and examination assistance (Sarrett, 2017). To prevent loneliness and stress, autistic students themselves can benefit from resilience and anxiety management (A. ...
... ar might experience more stress and anxiety. Furthermore, they might to be more isolated because of their delays and their difficulty with social contacts in general. As prior interventions and coaching on test taking may have failed, alternative examinations should be considered to promote equal opportunities and remove impediments (Fishkin, 2014;E. Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Jansen et al., 2016). In our opinion, this intervention should occur not after failure but as part of the standard approach and the next step in autistic students' support. To prevent loneliness and stress, autistic students themselves can benefit from resilience and anxiety management (A. H. Anderson, Carter, & Stephenson, 2018;Bolouria ...
Thesis
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In this PhD thesis, we aimed to improve understanding of the study progression and success of autistic students in higher education by comparing them to students with other disabilities and students without disabilities. We studied their background and enrollment characteristics, whether barriers in progression existed, how and when possible barriers manifested themselves in their student journey, and how institutions should address these issues. We found autistic students to be different from their peers but not worse as expected based on existing findings. We expect we counterbalanced differences because we studied a large data set spanning seven cohorts and performed propensity score weighting. Most characteristics of autistic students at enrollment were similar to those of other students, but they were older and more often male. They more often followed an irregular path to higher education than students without disabilities. They expected to study full time and spend no time on extracurricular activities or paid work. They expected to need more support and were at a higher risk of comorbidity than students with other disabilities. We found no difficulties with participation in preparatory activities. Over the first bachelor year, the grade point averages (GPAs) of autistic students were most similar to the GPAs of students without disabilities. Credit accumulation was generally similar except for one of seven periods, and dropout rates revealed no differences. The number of failed examinations and no-shows among autistic students was higher at the end of the first semester. Regarding progression and degree completion, we showed that most outcomes (GPAs, dropout rates, resits, credits, and degree completion) were similar in all three groups. Autistic students had more no-shows in the second year than their peers, which affected degree completion after three years. Our analysis of student success prediction clarified what factors predicted their success or lack thereof for each year in their bachelor program. For first-year success, study choice issues were the most important predictors (parallel programs and application timing). Issues with participation in pre-education (absence of grades in pre-educational records) and delays at the beginning of autistic students’ studies (reflected in age) were the most influential predictors of second-year success and delays in the second and final year of their bachelor program. Additionally, academic performance (average grades) was the strongest predictor of degree completion within three years. Our research contributes to increasing equality of opportunities and the development of support in higher education in three ways. First, it provides insights into the extent to which higher education serves the equality of autistic students. Second, it clarifies which differences higher education must accommodate to support the success of autistic students during their student journey. Finally, we used the insights into autistic students’ success to develop a stepped, personalized approach to support their diverse needs and talents, which can be applied using existing offerings.
... Medical students with a SpLD may have navigated their previous education with difficulty. The pressures of medical school may exacerbate their difficulties, prompting them to seek help and, subsequently, obtain a diagnosis at this stage in their lives (Griffin & Pollak, 2009). ...
... Their strengths, such as determination and social skills, were similar to those reported in previous studies (Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Kirby et al., 2008aKirby et al., , 2008b. Participants had adapted their learning preferences around their strengths. ...
... "Within the medical model of disability, a disability is seen as a problem with the individual in question… emphasis is placed on "fixing" the individual… Within the social model of disability, it is believed that a disability stems from issues with the attitudes of society, causing environmental, organisational and social barriers, which act to "disable" an individual" (Walker & Shaw, 2018). Griffin and Pollak (2009) propose a "medical/deficit view" (medical model) and a "difference view" (social model) of SpLDs (Fig. 4) (Griffin & Pollak, 2009). All our participants fell into the "difference view" (social model), as they all had considerable career ambitions and positive clear goals. ...
Article
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Dyspraxia, otherwise known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), is a specific learning difficulty (SpLD). Its main difficulties manifest as problems with motor coordination, organisation, academic and social difficulties. There are now more students arriving at university with SpLDs, and, therefore, a similar rise may be expected within medical education. There has been no previous research focusing on dyspraxia in doctors. An interpretive phenomenological approach was used. Six UK foundation schools disseminated the announcements. Three participants took part in loosely structured telephone interviews regarding their experiences of undertaking medical school and foundation school with dyspraxia. These were transcribed verbatim and then thematically analysed. The themes could be split into two main categories: "Weakness and Coping Strategies" and "Perspectives of Dyspraxia". "Weakness" included: clumsiness, organisation and needing extra time. The participants focused on their "Coping Strategies" that included: Ensuring safety, adapted learning preferences and external support. "Perspectives of Dyspraxia" included: diagnosis, career choice, stigma, "normalisation" and the "difference view" or "medical deficit" view of dyspraxia. Doctors with dyspraxia often mask their difficulties through sophisticated coping strategies. These were determined and hardworking individuals who believe that their dyspraxia was a positive aspect of their identity, adopting a "difference view". They felt further education is needed about dyspraxia to change the perceived stigma. There is now a need for further research in this area.
... A scoping review identified five studies relating to dyspraxia; four within higher education (HE) and one of registered doctors (Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Kirby et al., 2008a;Kirby et al., 2008b;Missiuna et al., 2008;Musto, 2013). The results of our literature review are published elsewhere . ...
... We found no autobiographical or autoethnographic accounts in this area. Griffin and Pollak (2009) suggested that people may hold one of two perspectives on their dyspraxia; a "difference" view, or a "medical/deficit" view. People who held a "difference" adaptation emphasized their strengths, had higher career aspirations and were less likely to seek help. ...
... This study highlights how important the opinions and actions of others can be for an individual with dyspraxia. Due to a lack of education there is still perceived to be a stigma surrounding the condition, leading to a fear of negative judgment and discrimination (Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Miller et al., 2009;Social Care Workforce Research Unit, 2007). This is tied into the culture of medicine. ...
Article
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In this paper we adopt an autoethnographic approach to explore the lived experiences of a UK medical student with dyspraxia within the current culture of UK medical education. An initial review of the literature revealed that there is now growing evidence regarding the difficulties experienced by, and support needed for medical students and doctors with dyslexia. However, no research has been conducted concerning dyspraxia on its own in medical education. Here we seek to provide an in-depth account of a UK undergraduate medical student with dyspraxia. It is hoped that this will have three outcomes: to support both students and staff across multiple disciplines, who have had similar experiences; to inform educators; and to promote further interest and research into this important area.
... Recent efforts have been made in higher education (HE) to promote equality and participation for students with a specific disability. Despite these attempts, many people do not feel sufficiently supported in their third level institution (Griffin & Pollak, 2009). Students with dyslexia have identified several barriers to succeeding in HE including difficulty taking notes during lectures, organising coursework, emphasis on written assessments, a lack of appropriate supports from the disability office and limited awareness of dyslexia among academic staff (MacCullagh et al., 2017;Mortimore & Crozier, 2006;Olofsson, Taube, & Ahl, 2015;Pino & Mortari, 2014). ...
... The participants discussed how their ability to learn contrasted with students without a diagnosis of dyslexia. It became apparent that their conceptualisation of dyslexia was that of 'difference' as opposed to a 'disorder' (Griffin & Pollak, 2009). Two participants commented that they 'get confused with what words mean or what a sentence means'. ...
... Participants also acknowledged that while dyslexia is a lifelong condition, it does not have to be viewed as a debilitating characteristic. Rather, the students' portrayal of their personal strengths, skills and alternative learning strategies, underpinned a 'difference' perspective of dyslexia as opposed to a 'disorder' approach (Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Oliver, 1988). Accordingly, participants felt that although they may learn differently, their diagnosis is part of their identity. ...
Article
Free copy of article available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/avJ8vmiJtmMYWWFZV2Bx/full?target=10.1080/07294360.2019.1602595 Dyslexia is a common specific learning difficulty. In higher education two models of disability are prevalent, ‘disorder’ and ‘difference’, which each differentially conceptualise dyslexia and the nature of supports required. A lack of research has been undertaken in Ireland regarding students’ experience of dyslexia, and the move from second to third level education. A greater understanding of the challenges encountered is necessary to inform provision of resources to help students with dyslexia excel in higher education. Semi-structured interviews were completed with four undergraduate students and one postgraduate student with a diagnosis of dyslexia to explore their experiences of transitioning into university. Thematic analysis revealed four common themes: dyslexic identity, self-advocacy, transition experiences, and future advice. Various difficulties were identified regarding lack of appropriate academic resources, inconsistencies between supports provided in secondary and third level education, and low self-confidence which serves as a barrier to success. However, strengths including self-directed learning techniques and communication and self-advocacy skills were also evidenced, supporting a ‘difference’ view of dyslexia. The findings highlight the need to re-evaluate the current academic service provisions, in alignment with a model of dyslexia that allows individualisation and enables students, as opposed to disabling them.
... Therefore, they report more difficulties with social skills (e.g., social interactions, group work, presentations; Jansen et al., 2016;Van Hees et al., 2015) and academic skills (e.g., executive functioning, goal setting, planning, complete tasks; Bolourian et al., 2018;Hillier et al., 2018). These challenges often coincide with mental health issues (e.g., loneliness, comorbidity, anxiety, and depression; A. H. Anderson, 2018;Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Van Hees et al., 2018), leading to avoidance of participation, procrastination and delays, and lower graduation rates (Robertson & Ne'eman, 2021;Vincent, 2019). ...
... Educational inclusivity can be reached by Universal Learning Design strategies (A. H. Anderson, 2018;Berry et al., 2006), promoting understanding and acceptance of autistic students by peers and staff (Sarrett, 2017), alternative teaching and assessment (Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Jansen et al., 2016), and examination assistance (Sarrett, 2017). To prevent loneliness and stress, autistic students can benefit from resilience and anxiety management (A. ...
Article
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Individuals with autism increasingly enroll in universities, but researchers know little about how their study progresses over time towards degree completion. This exploratory population study uses structural equation modeling to examine patterns in study progression and degree completion of bachelor’s students with autism spectrum disorder ( n = 101) in comparison to students with other recorded conditions ( n = 2,465) and students with no recorded conditions ( n = 25,077) at a major Dutch university. Propensity score weighting is applied to balance outcomes. The research shows that most outcomes (grade point average, dropout rates, resits, credits, and degree completion) were similar across the three groups. Students with autism had more no-shows in the second year than their peers, which affected degree completion after 3 years. The overall performance of autistic students appeared to be adequate and comparable to their peers. However, addressing participation and inclusivity is vital to improve academic support for students with autism. These insights can enable universities to develop appropriate and timely support for all talented students to progress in their studies and complete their degrees.
... While a general understanding about dyslexia in higher education has increased, students with learning challenges appear to feel that they do not receive enough support (Dobson Waters & Torgerson, 2021;Griffin & Pollak, 2009). According to the Office for Students (2017), students would have to make the request for inclusive learning to help them in their academic studies rather than the inclusive practices being already in place and implemented. ...
Article
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The current study aimed to analyze the prevalence and characteristics of geometric difficulties in elementary school children. In cooperation with teachers, tasks for assessing geometric knowledge, respecting the curriculum for a particular grade, have been developed. The level of geometric thinking was analyzed as an additional factor for classifying geometric difficulties and for better understanding problems that can lead to determining appropriate accommodations. The prevalence of geometric difficulties was 9.2% and students with geometric difficulties were on the first and second level of geometric thinking. Deficits in visual-spatial skills have been also analyzed as potential risk factor for developing geometric difficulties.
... Similarly, the traditional education system often places undue emphasis on standardized tests and evaluation methods, which may fail to assess the learning of neurodiverse individuals. For example, dyslexic students who struggle with the written format of traditional exams may better demonstrate their learning if given the opportunity to demonstrate engineering concepts through alternate means that use their individual strengths, such as visual expression, oral presentation, or threedimensional modeling (Griffin and Pollak, 2009;Robinson, 2017;Rappolt-Schlichtmann et al., 2018). To move toward a more inclusive education system, it is essential to be aware of the power dynamics and foundational biases of the current education system. ...
Article
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A growing body of literature suggests that neurodiverse learners may possess assets that are highly desirable within engineering disciplines. Even so, despite the potential of neurodiverse individuals to contribute to innovation in science and engineering, neurodiverse students, such as those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, or dyslexia, remain highly underrepresented in engineering majors. We argue that the predominant perception of neurodiversity as a disability limits the participation of neurodiverse students in engineering education, ultimately impacting the diversity and creativity of the engineering workforce. In this paper, we review the emerging literature on neurodiversity that takes a social ecology approach and moves away from deficit-based models. We then describe the potential benefits and challenges of neurodiversity in the context of engineering education. We conclude with a concept analysis of how a strengths-based perspective of neurodiversity may be integrated within engineering education in particular, as well as in higher education overall, as we present our vision for a transformative education system that moves beyond mere accommodation of learning differences and empowers all students to leverage their unique strengths. In presenting a strengths-based approach to neurodiversity, we aim to contribute to a paradigm shift that transforms how university faculty and staff understand and perceive neurodiversity, improves the educational experiences of neurodiverse students in higher education and enhances the creativity of the engineering workforce.
... Modern disability models, such as the neurodiversity movement, have sought to position disability and other cognitive or neurological conditions (e.g., autism, dyslexia, ADHD) as crucial facets of identity, much like race, gender, or sexual orientation. These modern models have encouraged reclaiming disability identity, pride in disabilities, and IFL (Andrews, 2019;Botha et al., 2021;Griffin & Pollak, 2009). ...
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Lay abstract: There is currently disagreement among professionals (such as teachers, therapists, researchers, and clinicians) about the most appropriate and respectful way to refer to individuals with disabilities in general, and those with autism, in particular. Supporters of person-first language feel that it is important to emphasize the person rather than the disorder or disability, and promote the use of terms such as, "person with autism" or "a person with ASD." The goal is to reduce stereotypes and discrimination and emphasize the person's individuality rather than their disability. However, some people within the autism community have questioned the use of person-first terms because they are awkward and use an unconventional style of language that draws attention to the disability. Moreover, autistic individuals and their families are beginning to support the use of identity-first language that embraces all aspects of one's identity. Surveys in the United Kingdom and Australia support the idea that both types of language are preferred by different groups of autism stakeholder groups. In our study, we surveyed autism stakeholders in the United States. Overwhelmingly, autistic adults (n = 299) preferred identity-first language terms to refer to themselves or others with autism. Professionals who work in the autism community (n = 207) were more likely to support and use person-first language. Language is dynamic and our findings support the need for open communication among autism professionals about how we communicate with and about autistic individuals and their families.
... Other dichotomies such as that proposed by Reid and Valle [2] offer frameworks for appreciating disabilities which are drawn into the scientific, medical and psychological; the institutional and legislative; and the social, political and cultural discourses. There are also the debates of attribution in consideration of the impact of neurodiversity [3,4]. It is this notion of neurodiversity which is a growing area of activity and research. ...
... Whereas they ought to support students overcoming their reading and writing problems. There is indeed a dire need for more awareness among HE lecturers, as was put forward by Griffin andPollack (2009) andQuick (2013). Increasing selfreliance should be the main focus in the guidance and coaching of students with dyslexia. ...
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Students with dyslexia face particular challenges in higher education. Individuals with disabilities have a right to accommodations to guarantee equal opportunities and participation in education. The present study addresses (1) the frequency of functioning and participation problems of students with dyslexia in higher education, (2) the teaching and evaluation methods during which the functioning and participation problems emerge, and (3) the effectiveness of accommodations perceived by students with dyslexia. Results showed that students with dyslexia primarily have problems with reading comprehension, reading speed, spelling and text writing. Furthermore, most students with dyslexia experience more problems during classical teaching (e.g., lecture) or classical evaluation methods (e.g., written exam with open questions) than during dynamic or activating teaching methods (e.g., excursion or internship) or alternative evaluation methods (e.g., peer evaluation). Finally, perception of the effectiveness of accommodations depends strongly on the individual functioning and participation problems students with dyslexia experienced.
... One such model is the social model of disability, which argues that a disability is not caused by the actual impairment 1 but is a result of social structures and attitudes towards the impairment (Oliver 2013: Oliver 1996. 2 The social model is not the only model of disability, and the arguments in this paper do not rest on accepting it as such, but aspects of the social model are clearly applicable to the range of common disabilities discussed here. This notion extends to the idea of "neurodiversity," which is the argument that disabilities that appear to have an effect on how the brain functions-like SLDs, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and autism among others-are natural genetic variations that may, in fact, be adaptive (Griffin and Pollak 2009). For example, many people are advocating for value to be placed on the strength a person with dyslexia has, such as novel thinking and excellent problem-solving skills, instead of focusing on the reading and spelling deficits that individuals with dyslexia often have (Armstrong 2015;Garner 2021). ...
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The development of the CRISPR gene editing technique has been hyped as a technique that could fundamentally change scientific research and its clinical application. Unrecognized is the fact that it joins other technologies that have tried and failed under the same discourse of scientific hype. These technologies, like gene therapy and stem cell research, have moved quickly passed basic research into clinical application with dire consequences. Before hastily moving to clinical applications, it is necessary to consider basic research and determine how CRISPR/Cas systems should be applied. In the case of single gene diseases, that application is expected to have positive impacts, but as we shift to more complex diseases, the impact could be unintentionally negative. In the context of common disabilities, the level of genetic complexity may render this technology useless but potentially toxic, aggravating a social discourse that devalues those with disabilities. This paper intends to define the issues related to disability that are associated with using the CRIPSR/Cas system in basic research. It also aims to provide a decision tree to help determine whether the technology should be utilized or if alternative approaches beyond scientific research could lead to a better use of limited funding resources.
... A variety of interconnected yet distinct activist and scholarly movements, such as the evolution of autism selfadvocacy movement and the neurodiversity framework, have coalesced into the critical autism studies discipline. 1 Members of the autistic self-advocacy movement from the 1990s, including Meyerding, 25 Sinclair, 26 and Singer, 27 developed terminology related to neurodiversity, which refers to a framework that seeks to present neurological differences such as autism as a form of natural human diversity that should be respected instead of pathologized. [28][29][30][31] Notably, many of the pioneers of the neurodiversity movement and critical autism studies fell outside of the stereotype that portrays autism as a childhood condition seen primarily in boys. 32,33 For example, Meyerding 25 discussed her experiences of understanding her autistic identity as an adult within the context of her gender and sexual orientation, likening her discovery of her autistic identity to her exploration of feminist theory and contrasting her experiences as a neurodivergent lesbian to those of neurotypical lesbians. ...
... The neurodiversity movement primarily differs from the Autistic advocacy movement in its greater breadth, extending beyond autism to capture multiple domains of neurodevelopmental difference. Broadly speaking, the neurodiversity approach defines atypical neurodevelopment (such as autism) as variation in the human experience that should be accepted and respected (Griffin & Pollak, 2009). Singer (1998) and Blume (1998) introduced the idea of neurodiversity into academia and popular media using the analogy of biodiversity; just as biodiversity is essential and necessary for healthy ecosystems, so too might neurodiversity contribute to human flourishing. ...
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Proponents of autism intervention and those of the neurodiversity movement often appear at odds, the former advocating for intensive treatments and the latter arguing that autism must be accepted as a form of diversity. The history of behavioral intervention has understandably outraged many in the Autistic community, though many still value supports focused on quality of life. This commentary argues that Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions (NDBIs) hold promise for bridging the gap between early intervention and the neurodiversity movement. However, we recognize NDBIs have much room to grow and suggest multiple strategies for improvement. We believe these updates are not only feasible for clinicians and researchers to implement but will ultimately lead to improved quality of life for Autistic individuals. This commentary was the result of a collaboration and synthesis of ideas between Autistic and non-Autistic co-authors spanning different roles, affiliations, and perspectives.
... While there is scant literature on the implementation of a strengths-based approach toward neurodiversity in the context of engineering or other STEM fields, a review of the existing literature finds that this approach is promising to enhance the wellbeing and academic outcomes of neurodivergent students. One study found that a neurodiversity view was associated with expressions of greater career ambition and academic self-esteem [10], while the post-program survey responses of participants in a strengths-based Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site, "Research Experience in Cyber and Civil Infrastructure Security for Students with ADHD: Fostering Innovation," held at UConn under the leadership of a project Co-PI, showed that participants demonstrated increased self-confidence and interest in pursuing advanced degrees [11]. ...
Conference Paper
Meaningful inclusion of neurodivergent students in engineering requires us to move beyond a focus on accommodations and accessibility and embrace a strengths-based approach toward neurodiversity. A large body of literature suggests that neurodivergent individuals, including those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) possess a wide range of unique strengths that may be assets in engineering. These strengths include divergent thinking, risk-taking, 3-dimensional visualization skills, pattern identification, and systems thinking. Despite the potential of nontraditional thinkers to contribute to engineering breakthroughs, recruitment and retention rates of neurodivergent students in engineering programs remain extremely low. The emphasis on conventional pedagogical methods in engineering programs, coupled with a deficit-based approach that is focused on the remediation of weaknesses, does little to foster the unique strengths of neurodivergent students. In addition to the obstacles posed by traditional education system, the stigma related to a disability label leads many neurodivergent college students to neither discuss their diagnosis with peers and professors nor obtain academic accommodations that may help them to persist in a challenging learning environment. To address these challenges and realize the potential contributions of neurodivergent individuals to engineering fields, a research project funded by the Engineering Education and Centers of the National Science Foundation has been established to transform engineering education and create an inclusive learning environment that empowers neurodiverse learners. The project encompasses a wide variety of interventions in all aspects of academic life, from recruitment to career development. As part of the first iteration of the course redesign process, three pilot courses have been revised to address the unique strengths and challenges of neurodivergent students and improve the educational experience for all students. These redesigned courses in Statics, Mechanics of Materials, and Fluid Mechanics are fundamental engineering courses that are taken by a large number of students in a range of engineering majors including Civil and Environmental, Mechanical, Biomedical, and Materials Science and Engineering. This paper presents an overview of the implementation of a new framework for inclusive, strengths-based course design standards that were developed by engineering faculty along with experts in curriculum and instruction. Traditionally, universal design standards emphasize aligning course objectives, learning experiences and assessments, explaining course information clearly, and using varied and accessible instructional materials. These universal design standards are adequate to provide courses that are accessible to all learners. However, to provide inclusive courses for neurodivergent students, additional standards are necessary to ensure that students can identify and use their unique strengths in an engineering context. The new framework expands upon universal design principles and provides guidelines that are anchored in a strengths-based approach and centered around three core elements: a culture of inclusion, teaching and learning, and instructional design. The application of the standards across the three courses has common elements (e.g., the ability to choose standard versus creativity-based assessments) and differences to reflect instructor style and course content (e.g., incorporation of design aspects in more advanced courses). It is anticipated that the use of these standards will improve learning outcomes and enhance the educational experience for neurodivergent students.
... Our qualitative data included references to a learning process following diagnosis, whereby previously held stereotypes or misconceptions about autism were challenged in favour of more positive views. This finding would fit with studies that have shown how learning about autism and neurodiversity helps with the development of a more holistic conception of autism (King et al., 2003;Griffin and Pollak, 2009). Due to the cross-sectional nature of the present study, it is only possible to theorise about identity mechanisms and other factors. ...
Article
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Adults are increasingly seeking autism diagnoses, although less is known about their experiences of diagnosis and personal identity (i.e., autism as part of “me”), and how this relates to self-esteem and wellbeing. One-hundred and fifty-one autistic adults completed an online survey including measures of self-esteem, psychological wellbeing, and autistic personal identity, which considered whether participants took pride in or were dissatisfied with being autistic. Fifty-four participants answered a qualitative question about the impact of receiving an autism diagnosis on their sense of self. Regression analyses found that greater time elapsed since diagnosis related to less dissatisfaction with autistic personal identity. We also found that more dissatisfaction with autistic personal identity predicted lower self-esteem, and more autism pride predicted higher self-esteem. Content analysis of participants’ experiences supported the quantitative findings and was suggestive of an emotive post-diagnostic adjustment process. Future research should aim to identify ways to promote the development of a positive autistic personal identity post-diagnosis in adulthood.
... Thus, what individuals with ASC need, is finding the environmental niche right for them by minimizing barriers, maximizing potential, and optimizing person-environmental fit (Lai et al., 2020). Both of these paradigms can be observed at the level of the individual, either as attitudes towards their autism (Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Humphrey & Lewis, 2008) or attitudes towards autism held by the parents (Cascio, 2012). Divergence of attitudes towards autism may be more prevalent among some sub-types of ASC. ...
Article
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Background Given the high prevalence of mental health comorbidities in autism spectrum conditions, the psychological well-being is one of the most pertinent issues in autism research, but it is encumbered with difficulties regarding its assessment in the ASC population and understanding the causes behind the increased risk of problems. This study aimed to explore the subjective assessment of psychological well-being in adolescents with ASC – whether it differs from the reports of their caregivers and which factors may be important in shaping it. Specifically, we hypothesized that different ways of perceiving autism – as a disorder or as a neurodivergence – may contribute to the way autistic adolescents feel about their own well-being. Method We tested 27 dyads of adolescents with ASC and normal intellectual ability; and their mothers. We assessed the child’s depressive symptoms and attitudes towards autism; we controlled the child’s IQ and autism severity (by ADOS-2). Results We found large discrepancies between adolescent’s and mother’s reports of adolescent’s depressive symptoms and their predictors. Higher maternal distress and lower autism severity predicted an increased level of depressive symptoms in the child, only in the mother’s report. Attitude towards autism was not a significant factor in predicting the child’s depressive symptoms, but it leaned toward significance in the child’s self-assessment. Conclusions Given the differences between adolescents and maternal perspectives, the subjective experiences of adolescents with ASC should be taken into account to a greater extent. It is worth exploring whether adolescents with ASC might benefit from perceiving autism as a neurodivergence.
... The neurodiversity and cultural differences of the students are additional aspects to take into account at the time of designing a course, given that many of the difficulties they experience in classroom teaching can be increased in the case of distance education. Thus, for example, in the case of the presence of students with Asperger's syndrome, it is recommended that educational materials allow for the adaptation of font size, as well as the use of colors [102]. ...
Article
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The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreaks have caused universities all across the globe to close their campuses and forced them to initiate online teaching. This article reviews the pedagogical foundations for developing effective distance education practices, starting from the assumption that promoting autonomous thinking is an essential element to guarantee full citizenship in a democracy and for moral decision-making in situations of rapid change, which has become a pressing need in the context of a pandemic. In addition, the main obstacles related to this new context are identified, and solutions are proposed according to the existing bibliography in learning sciences.
... Thus, supporting the Neurodiversity movement, which has not only recognised dyslexia as a 'difference' but also promotes the strengths of dyslexia (Armstrong 2015). With the rise of the movement, several neurodiversity projects have started to call the newly emerging social model of dyslexia as Neurodiversity model (Griffin and Pollak 2009;Cooper 2014). ...
Thesis
Despite the efforts to prepare Malaysian teachers to support students with learning difficulties, little empirical knowledge exists that can be used to guide the provision of effective online Teacher Professional Development [oTPD] on dyslexia. The review of the literature on the studies of framing suggest that analysis of framing effect could facilitate a researcher to achieve a better understanding of an effective Teacher Professional Development. This study of teachers’ responses to training materials aims to understand how dyslexia awareness messages are framed in online resources to trigger Malaysian primary school teachers to inquire more information about dyslexia conception and dyslexia supports. This understanding was achieved by analysing the triggering events as the framing effects and how the frames and the framing of the messages contribute towards the identified triggering events. The study is divided into two main phases that are carried out sequentially: the pre-message framing phase [to identify the participants’ knowledge gap] and the message framing phase [to understand how the messages are framed to trigger the participants to inquire of more information about dyslexia]. The pre-message framing phase aims to answer the first research question [what is the level of dyslexia awareness among Malaysian primary school teachers?]; while the message framing phase aims to answer the second research question [which message/messages triggered the teachers’ awareness and learning about dyslexia?] and the third research question [how are the messages framed to trigger the participants’ awareness and learning inquiry?]. The main phase of the study is the message framing phase. However, the findings from the pre-message framing phase is vital to inform the selection of the artefacts to be utilised in the study of the framing effects [which addressed the second research question] and the message frames [which addressed the third research question]. The data for this study were collected from fifteen participants via WhatsApp instant messaging interviews and were analysed using a hybrid approach of inductive and deductive thematic analysis. The findings revealed that the participants’ lack of dyslexia awareness is due to a rote conceptual understanding of dyslexia. However, since the participants’ current background knowledge on dyslexia conception is not fully established, the new knowledge on dyslexia conception [highlighting neurodiversity theory] was introduced. The findings show that the all three artefacts contain messages that trigger the participants’ learning inquiry about dyslexia especially on identification. Messages that were framed using relevant situations, attributes, choices, actions, issues, responsibility and news with the help of audio and visual representations ii triggered the participants’ learning inquiry about dyslexia. The research concludes that utilising emotional and meaningful teacher-students’ situation as framing of the messages appears to be the most significant message framing element.<br/
... The idea of neurodiversity is also appealing to other disability communities. Observing the promising impacts of neurodiversity-aligned advocacy on autism research and policy, scholars and writers have begun to explore how neurodiversity-aligned perspectives can be applied to other conditions, e.g., stuttering, dyslexia, mood disorders, anxiety, ADHD, intellectual and learning disabilities, and schizophrenia (Antonetta, 2007;Armstrong, 2010;Constantino, 2018;Fenton & Krahn, 2007;Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Jamison, 1995). For example, Christopher Constantino (2018), a stuttering researcher, clinician, stutterer, and an author of this report, recently published a paper describing how the idea of neurodiversity can be used to improve stuttering research and practice. ...
... In the UK, the introduction of a government grant, the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA), in 1993 3 , was one approach to widening access for students. Whilst providing funding for individually tailored support (e.g., specialist equipment, non-medical helpers) was shown to impact positively on perceptions of educational attainment (Griffin & Pollak, 2009), changes to this provision have been implemented by the UK government. Specifically, a shift away from supporting individual students through external government (DSA) funding has been adopted, which means that, in line with their duties under the Equality Act 2010, HE providers are accountable for providing (and funding) reasonable adjustments for these students; only in more 'complex' cases will DSA support be able to be accessed (when it is clearly evidenced that the student requires something more specific than what is provided by the institution). ...
Article
Higher education providers are seeing a shift from externally funded support for students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD), to a need to develop more inclusive practices generally. However, the precise needs of students with different SpLD diagnoses is unknown. A total of 367 students in England and Wales (163 students with dyslexia, 50 students with developmental coordination disorder [DCD/“dyspraxia”], 62 students with dyslexia and DCD, and 92 non‐SpLD students) completed an online questionnaire to determine: (a) how confident they are with their study‐related capabilities, (b) the types of support they access, and (c) their views on current inclusive practices. Students with dyslexia and students with dyslexia/DCD reported lower confidence in their grades and studying than non‐SpLD students, and accessed more technology‐related support than students with DCD only. Examination accommodations supporting writing were common for all SpLD students. Inclusive practices were perceived positively, although different priorities were seen across groups. The findings demonstrate the complexities inherent in providing effective support for all students at university, with the varied profiles across and within SpLD groups suggesting that an individualized approach is necessary. Practical implications are discussed.
... The objectives of the neurodiversity movement consist of at least two aspects. The first is based on the idea that neurological differences among human beings, such as autism, should be accepted as natural neurological variations and not described as "disorders" (Griffin & Pollak, 2009). The second aspect moves this discussion into the domain of politics and calls for the equal rights, non-discrimination, recognition, and acceptance of "neurodiverse" individuals (Jaarsma & Welin, 2012). ...
Chapter
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This chapter provides a glimpse into the world of autism research. It begins by presenting a general description of autism in terms borrowed from its elaboration as an object of scientific research. This description is contrasted with the designation of autism as a mode of being progressed by many high-functioning autistic individuals and autism advocates. The perspective through which autism is designated in this book is then situated in the intersection between the realist scientific approach and normative approach. This perspective, rooted in the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, describes autism as a singular subjective structure that is not reducible to the major structures of subjectivity elaborated in psychoanalysis so far: neurosis, perversion, and psychosis. Finally, this chapter discloses that the singularity of autistic subjectivity is to be accounted for in this book through the explication of a singular mechanism of constitutive exclusion called autistic foreclosure.
... Thus, ideologies evidenced in everyday and institutional discourse are assumed to both establish and maintain power relationships. 42 Disrupting dominant discourses about autism, primarily controlled by those in positions of power, is therefore necessary to change 99 Areas of interest or areas of expertise, focused, intense, or passionate interests Special needs 98,100,101 Description of specific needs and disabilities Challenging behavior/disruptive behavior/problem behavior 7,37,102,103 Meltdown (when uncontrollable behavior), stimming (when relevant), specific description of the behavior (e.g., selfinjurious or aggressive behavior) Person-first language (to refer to autism) 8,17,65,72,[104][105][106][107] Identity-first language; ''on the autism spectrum'' Medicalized/deficit-based language High/low functioning; high/low severity or support needs 9,17,84,85 Describe specific strengths and needs, and acknowledgment that the level of support needs likely varies across domains (e.g., requires substantial support to participate in unstructured recreation activities, but minimal support to complete academic work) ''At risk'' for ASD 73 Increased likelihood/chance of autism Burden of/suffering from autism 108 Impact, effect Co-morbid 109,110 Co-occurring Autism symptoms 17 Specific autistic characteristics, features, or traits Treatment Support, services, educational strategies (when applicable) Healthy controls/normative sample 111,112 Nonautistic (if determined via screening), neurotypical (if determined via extensive screening ruling out most forms of neurodivergence), comparison group (with description of relevant group characteristics) Psychopathology 98 Neurodevelopmental conditions, neuropsychiatric conditions, developmental disabilities, mental illnesses (or specific mental health condition) Ableist discourses: ways of discussing autism not relegated to the use of particular terms, that reflect and/or contribute to dehumanization, oppression, or marginalization of autistic people Discussions about economic impacts of autism that situate costs in the existence of autistic people themselves, or compare the costs to those of potentially fatal diseases/conditions such as cancer or stroke. 113 Discussions about economic impacts of autism that situate costs in society's systemic failure to accommodate autistic people and that recognize the people most affected by oppression due to this failure are autistic people themselves (not ''taxpayers'') Interpretations of all group differences between autistic and nonautistic groups as evidence of autistic deficits 20,22,29,114 Interpretations of group differences that consider the possibility that autistic people may have relative strengths over nonautistic people or that differences between groups are value-neutral unless actively demonstrated otherwise Cure/recovery/''optimal outcome'' rhetoric. ...
Article
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Unlabelled: In this commentary, we describe how language used to communicate about autism within much of autism research can reflect and perpetuate ableist ideologies (i.e., beliefs and practices that discriminate against people with disabilities), whether or not researchers intend to have such effects. Drawing largely from autistic scholarship on this subject, along with research and theory from disability studies and discourse analysis, we define ableism and its realization in linguistic practices, provide a historical overview of ableist language used to describe autism, and review calls from autistic researchers and laypeople to adopt alternative ways of speaking and writing. Finally, we provide several specific avenues to aid autism researchers in reflecting on and adjusting their language choices. Lay summary: Why is this topic important?: In the past, autism research has mostly been conducted by nonautistic people, and researchers have described autism as something bad that should be fixed. Describing autism in this way has negative effects on how society views and treats autistic people and may even negatively affect how autistic people view themselves. Despite recent positive changes in how researchers write and speak about autism, "ableist" language is still used. Ableist language refers to language that assumes disabled people are inferior to nondisabled people.What is the purpose of this article?: We wrote this article to describe how ableism influences the way autism is often described in research. We also give autism researchers strategies for avoiding ableist language in their future work.What is the perspective of the authors?: We believe that ableism is a "system of discrimination," which means that it influences how people talk about and perceive autism whether or not they are aware of it, and regardless of whether or not they actually believe that autistic people are inferior to nonautistic people. We also believe that language choices are part of what perpetuates this system. Because of this, researchers need to take special care to determine whether their language choices reflect ableism and take steps to use language that is not ableist.What is already known about this topic?: Autistic adults (including researchers and nonresearchers) have been writing and speaking about ableist language for several decades, but nonautistic autism researchers may not be aware of this work. We have compiled this material and summarized it for autism researchers.What do the authors recommend?: We recommend that researchers understand what ableism is, reflect on the language they use in their written and spoken work, and use nonableist language alternatives to describe autism and autistic people. For example, many autistic people find terms such as "special interests" and "special needs" patronizing; these terms could be replaced with "focused interests" and descriptions of autistic people's specific needs. Medicalized/deficit language such as "at risk for autism" should be replaced by more neutral terms such as "increased likelihood of autism." Finally, ways of speaking about autism that are not restricted to particular terms but still contribute to marginalization, such as discussion about the "economic burden of autism," should be replaced with discourses that center the impacts of social arrangements on autistic people.How will these recommendations help autistic people now or in the future?: Language is a powerful means for shaping how people view autism. If researchers take steps to avoid ableist language, researchers, service providers, and society at large may become more accepting and accommodating of autistic people.
... Perceptions of dyslexia can fall in two categories: those who take a 'medical/deficit' view, where it is seen as a disadvantage, and those who see it as 'difference', incorporating a set of strengths and weaknesses (Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Tanner, 2009). The current findings suggest mixed perceptions from HLLs about their dyslexia. ...
Article
Literacy difficulties are often reported by adults with experience of homelessness. Yet, research on their learning experiences and clarity on how best to support this group is lacking. The present study explored the experience of homeless literacy learners (HLLs) and asked what motivated them to engage with literacy support and the teaching‐related factors perceived to be most effective. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 10 HLLs (aged 31–68) engaged in literacy provision at a homelessness charity in the United Kingdom. Thematic analysis of the data revealed five key themes: challenging early experiences; barriers to improving literacy; the perceived impact of poor literacy; current motivation to improve literacy; and approaches that support literacy in adulthood. A significant majority of HLLs reported early traumatic learning experiences and 7 out of 10 (70%) disclosed a diagnosis of dyslexia. Specialist dyslexia support was reported to help HLLs feel understood and positive relationships with teachers helped self‐esteem and self‐efficacy related to their literacy learning. Recommendations are made for specialist teachers to be made more readily available to support HLLs, as well as to advise service providers and professionals engaging with adult learners with experience of homelessness across the sector.
... Here lies the primary challenge: the response to neurodiversity amongst staff appears, at best, mixed. Lecturers can be inflexible, unsupportive and judgmental (Bolourian, Zeedyk and Blacher 2018;Shaw and Anderson 2018;Vincent et al. 2017;Couzens et al. 2015;Child and Langford 2011;Griffin and Pollak 2009). These people are not bad people; their attitudes are likely fuelled by low levels of knowledge and awareness that militate against difference and willingness to think inclusively. ...
Article
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Neurodiversity is an umbrella term, including dyspraxia, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyscalculia, autistic spectrum and Tourette syndrome. The increasing number of students with learning difficulties associated with neurodiversity entering higher education (HE) poses a shared and growing challenge internationally for teachers and institutional leaders. This narrative synthesis draws together a corpus of international literature on how neurodiverse students experience higher education and the ways in which higher education institutions respond to the cluster of neurodiverse conditions. A systematic review was carried out to search, retrieve, appraise and synthesize the available evidence to provide an original contribution to the literature and significant insights of worth to higher education internationally. An inclusive approach to data extraction was used to ensure that all the relevant studies were included. All stages of the review process, including the initial search, screening, sample selection and analysis, are described. Three main themes and 11 subthemes were identified. Although the majority of publications focus on either dyslexia, autistic spectrum disorder, or ADHD, some common themes are evident in student experience across learning difficulties associated with neurodiversity. Although support services and technologies are available to meet students’ specific needs, there is an apparent dislocation between the two. Fear of stigmatization and labelling worsens the divide between what is needed and what is available to ensure neurodiverse students’ success in higher education, where good intentions are evidently not enough.
... Observing the promising impacts of neurodiversity-aligned advocacy on autism research and policy, scholars and writers have begun to explore how neurodiversity-aligned perspectives can be applied to other 1 ASAN (2020) seeks "to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism" by advocating for "policy positions on issues of importance to autistic people and others with disabilities." conditions: e.g., stuttering, dyslexia, mood disorders, anxiety, ADHD, intellectual and learning disabilities, and schizophrenia (Antonetta, 2007;Armstrong, 2010;Constantino, 2018;Fenton & Krahn, 2007;Griffin & Pollak, 2009;Jamison, 1995;Wang, 2019). For example, Christopher Constantino (2018), a stuttering researcher, clinician, stutterer, and an author of this report, recently published a paper describing how the idea of neurodiversity can be used to improve stuttering research and practice. ...
Article
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Purpose: We critically examine the idea of neurodiversity, or the uniqueness of all brains, as the foundation for the neurodiversity movement, which began as an autism rights movement. We explore the neurodiversity movement’s potential to support cross-disability alliances that can transform cultures. Methods/Approach: A neurodiverse team reviewed literature about the history of the neurodiversity movement and associated participatory research methodologies and drew from our experiences guiding programs led, to varying degrees, by neurodivergent people. We highlight two programs for autistic university students, one started by and for autistics and one developed in collaboration with autistic and non-autistic students. These programs are contrasted with a national self-help group started by and for stutterers that is inclusive of “neurotypicals.” Findings: Neurodiversity-aligned practices have emerged in diverse communities. Similar benefits and challenges of alliance building within versus across neurotypes were apparent in communities that had not been in close contact. Neurodiversity provides a framework that people with diverse conditions can use to identify and work together to challenge shared forms of oppression. However, people interpret the neurodiversity movement in diverse ways. By honing in on core aspects of the neurodiversity paradigm, we can foster alliances across diverse perspectives. Implications/Values: Becoming aware of power imbalances and working to rectify them is essential for building effective alliances across neurotypes. Sufficient space and time are needed to create healthy alliances. Participatory approaches, and approaches solely led by neurodivergent people, can begin to address concerns about power and representation within the neurodiversity movement while shifting public understanding.
... Thus, neurodiversity can recognise dyslexia as 'difference' but also promote the strengths of dyslexia [13]. With the rise of the movement, several neurodiversity projects have started to call the new emerging social model of dyslexia the neurodiversity model [19,20]. Both the fieldwork-based British Dyslexia Association (BDA) and research-based International Dyslexia Association (IDA) have started to refine their programmes in line with the neurodiversity framework. ...
Article
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p>Scientific research on dyslexia has taken place for the past 50 years during which time arguments on brain deficiency have created tensions between education and cognitive neuroscience researchers. However, clinical research on dyslexia through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has finally revealed that a dyslexic’s brain works differently. The findings have finally brought in a new synergy between research in education and cognitive neuroscience and empirically supported the neurodiversity movement. Recently, neurodiversity has been used as a framework for specific learning difficulties (SpLD) justice and to support dyslexia in inclusive education. This qualitative study was conducted to understand the Malaysian mainstream primary school teachers’ beliefs about SpLD and the current framework for Malaysian literacy support programme. The data collection is through social media focus group discussion and individual instant messaging interviews with forty-one teachers. The findings reveal that the current programme is built on theories of remediation and that the teachers have exhibited good levels of understanding of remediation, but not yet understand neurodiversity. It makes recommendations with regard to teacher professional development.</p
... Further sensitivities around how institutions construct disability centre on whether these 'institutional categories are apposite to an understanding of the ways in which students perceive themselves' (Hughes, Corcoran and Slee 2016, 488). While some students accept labels applied to them, others reject them preferring alternative labels (Griffin and Pollack 2009) or refusing to be marked out as a 'special' or different by the label (Madriaga et al. 2011). ...
... Why is it important to identify strengths and share them with students? Griffin and Pollak (2009) interviewed past and current college students and found that they tended to have one of two views about their disability: a "difference" view incorporating strengths and weaknesses, or a medical/deficit view where students were at a disadvantage. Those with a different view had higher career ambitions and academic self-esteem. ...
Article
When a student has a learning disability in reading and or dyslexia, interventions focus on remediating the weakness. Positive psychology is a field of psychology that looks to help people, based on harnessing a person's strengths, to create better outcomes. Strengths-based or asset-based interventions have been used with people with developmental disabilities to learn new skills. This study hoped to help identify strengths for people with dyslexia in two areas that have been hypothesized to be strengths for them: creativity and visual-spatial ability. Creativity has typically been assessed with domain-general measures rather than actual measures of creativity. Similarly, visual-spatial ability has been measured with paper-and-pencil tests. Eide and Eide (2011) have suggested that students with dyslexia may be better able to demonstrate their strengths using real-world measures. The purpose of this study was to compare the performance of students with and without dyslexia using real-world products. More specifically, the goals were to see if they had different patterns of creative abilities; to assess in what areas they differed between groups; and, within the dyslexia group, to identify where their strengths lay. An additional question inquired about the difference between a psychometrically validated visual-spatial measure, and a real-world three-dimensional creative product. The two groups had different patterns of strengths and differed within the written domain; significant results were not found within the dyslexia group, and visual-spatial ability did not differ between group or domain; educational implications are discussed.
... Previous research on dyslexia and higher education has predominantly focused on analysing the effectiveness of inclusion of students with dyslexia at University but there has been relatively little investigation of issues around emotional wellbeing and the emotional consequences of dyslexia. Thus, the literature on dyslexia and higher education is characterised by the following themes: studies evaluating the adequacy of provision for dyslexic students at University (Mortimore & Crozier; 2006; see also Griffin and Pollak, 2009;Hadjikakou and Hartas, 2008;Hanafin, Shevlin, Kenny, & McNeela, 2007;Pollak, 2009) and research investigating the underlying cognitive and language deficits in dyslexic university students as compared to control groups of non-dyslexic students. From the evidence provided, Pino and Mortari were able to make recommendations for improving practice in higher education for students with dyslexia. ...
Conference Paper
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A Mixed Method Study Focusing on Adult Dyslexic Higher Education Students and their Experiences with Anxiety and Coping. Background Adult students with dyslexia can apply for support for their cognitive needs but may also experience anxiety, which less is understood. This thesis aims to test the hypothesis that adult dyslexic learners in higher education (HE) have a higher prevalence of academic and social anxiety than their non-dyslexic peers and will explore the wider emotional consequences of studying with dyslexia and the ways in which adults with dyslexia cope both cognitively and emotionally. Methods The study utilised a mixed method approach and was in two stages. Stage one involved a survey of HE students with dyslexia (N = 102) and without identified dyslexia (N = 72). Students completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory measuring academic and social anxiety. Stage two used an exploratory approach to investigate emotional consequences of studying with dyslexia and types of coping strategies used through the method of semi-structured interviews with 20 dyslexic students. Results The results for stage one revealed a statistically significant effect for academic anxiety, but not for social anxiety. The main findings for stage two showed that: (1) Students’ emotional consequences of studying with dyslexia were characterised by a mixture of negative and positive emotional responses, yet negative responses were more frequently used in response to questions about academic tasks than positive responses; (2) Participants had a lot less to say with regards to coping emotionally, than coping cognitively. However, coping emotionally identified a mixture of coping methods including avoidance; through to participating in exercise; and developing mental resilience. Conclusions Dyslexic students in higher education show anxiety levels that are well above what is shown by students without learning difficulties. The implications of this for practice and for the dyslexia practitioner is that the delivery of strategies to deal with the negative emotional consequences of studying with dyslexia and ways of overcoming avoidance on academic tasks should be seen as just as important, if not more so, than the teaching of interventions to deal with cognitive difficulties associated with dyslexia.
... Thus, neurodiversity can recognise dyslexia as 'difference' but also promote the strengths of dyslexia (Armstrong, 2015). With the rise of the movement, several neurodiversity projects have started to call the new emerging social model of dyslexia the neurodiversity model (Griffin and Pollak, 2009;Cooper, 2014). Both the fieldwork-based British Dyslexia Association (BDA) and research-based International Dyslexia Association (Bailey et al., 2014) have started to refine their programmes in line with the neurodiversity framework. ...
... Interview Allen et al. 2009;Anderson et al. 2016;Brown et al. 2012;Chamak et al. 2008;Griffin and Pollak 2009;Herschkorn 2015;Hobson et al. 2006;Howard et al. 2006;Ottmann and Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) Gal et al. 2015 Analysis of autobiographical texts Chamak et al. 2008;Davidson 2010 Episodic memory/future thinking/scene construction task Lind et al. 2014 Narrative control task Lind et al. 2014 Theory of mind task Lind et al. 2014 Description Observation Hobson et al. 2006;Ottmann and Crosbie 2013 Items written by person with autism (self-reflection) Grandin 1990;Grandin 1995;Madar 2007 Boehm Test of Basic Concepts (Boehm-3) Herschkorn 2015 Table 2 Methods used in intellectual disability studies (note: individuals in studies were represented with intellectual disabilities; however, other conditions (e.g., dementia, Alzheimer's disease) were also represented in select studies) ...
Article
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Drawing on a realist synthesis approach, this review identified qualitative data collection approaches that inform “first-person” lived experience in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across phenotypic expression. It further drew upon methodologic approaches used in other conditions that similarly represent individuals with impaired verbal expression. The aim of this realist synthesis approach was to identify methods with relevance to participants across the autism spectrum. Methods that emerged for eliciting first-hand perspectives consisted of photovoice, Talking Mats, “deep assessment,” SenseCam, and TimeSlips. Applying these methodologies in ASD has the potential to advance knowledge about the quality of life, priorities and needs of people with ASD, and advanced qualitative approaches beyond methods that are not inclusive of cognitive and expressive diversity.
... A negative attitude to learners with a disability and a lack of understanding of the condition is a barrier to student progression and adverse student experiences (Storr et al., 2011). Much has been written about this, especially in relation to undergraduate students (Disabled Students Sector Leadership Group, 2017;Fuller et al., 2004;Griffin and Pollak, 2009), however the purpose of this paper is not to review the literature, rather to show the experiences of participants through their narratives. Against this backdrop this paper considers how dyslexia has affected registered nurses' engagement with lifelong learning and how they can be supported. ...
Article
While there is a growing body of research on the effects of dyslexia on student nurses, this is not the case for registered nurses. The main aim of the study was to identify how dyslexia might affect registered nurses’ engagement in lifelong learning and how lecturers can support them. A narrative lifecourse approach was taken to explore the experiences of 14 registered nurses with dyslexia from across Great Britain and nine lecturers from England and Scotland. In depth interviews were conducted between October 2014 and November 2015. Template analysis of the interview data resulted in four main themes: Recognition of Dyslexia; Impact of Previous Learning Experiences; Teaching and Learning Strategies and Reasonable Adjustments. The study demonstrated that previous learning experiences had an emotional impact on nurses with dyslexia and this affected their engagement in lifelong learning. Despite this, they often sought to challenge themselves and recognised the need to engage in continuing professional development. The support for registered nurses with dyslexia was variable and dependent on the education of lecturers, although wider provision of inclusive approaches to teaching, learning and assessment mitigated this. Available from this link until August 2019 https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1ZDks5EcXyCsBd
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Finding new ways of supporting the well-being of autistic adults is an essential goal for research and practice. We tested the predictive value of attitudes towards autism (as neurodiversity or as a disorder) and identification with other autistic people, on the psychological distress and self-esteem of autistic adults ( n = 109). Adopting a neurodiversity attitude not only predicted higher self-esteem but also served as a protective factor against the negative impact of identification with other autistic people on psychological distress. These findings show that clinicians should be sensitive to the way autistic people understand autism and the extent to which they identify with the autism community, as these factors relate to their well-being. Lay abstract Autistic adults experience a high level of distress. Finding new ways to support their well-being is an important goal for researchers and clinicians. We assessed the way autistic adults view their autism, as a disorder or as a type of mind (neurodiversity), and the level they integrate with other autistic people, and we checked how those factors contribute to their well-being. People who see autism rather as a type of mind than as a disorder had higher self-esteem. People who view themselves as more similar to other autistic people felt more stressed, but this result was not accurate for people who view autism as a type of mind. Clinicians should be sensitive to the way autistic people understand autism and to what extent they identify with the autism community, because it may relate to their well-being.
Article
Being neurodivergent (i.e., autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic, ADHD, etc) can present challenges in the neurotypical world. These challenges can be disabling and thus, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 of the UK, reasonable adjustments should be made. However, there is little published research investigating the experiences of, and therefore support needed for, neurodivergent students on clinical placements. This is especially true in radiography research, which is pertinent considering the potential for neurodivergent disabilities to interact with the demands of the role. Worthy of note, there is no research exploring the experiences of autistic students, dyspraxic or ADHD students. Due to this, it is impossible to know what radiography-specific support is needed. This piece will review the literature from the radiography and wider healthcare field and outline the possible impact this research deflect will have on neurodivergent student radiographers.
Article
Given its subject matter, biological psychiatry is uniquely poised to lead STEM DEI initiatives related to disability. Drawing on literatures in science, philosophy, psychiatry, and disability studies, we outline how that leadership might be undertaken. We first review existing opportunities for the advancement of DEI in biological psychiatry around axes of gender and race. We then explore the expansion of biological psychiatry’s DEI efforts to disability, especially along the lines of representation and access, community accountability, first person testimony, and revised theoretical frameworks for pathology. We close with concrete recommendations for scholarship and practice going forward. By tackling head-on the challenge of disability inclusion, biological psychiatry has the opportunity to be a force of transformation in the biological sciences and beyond.
Article
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Attitude of mothers towards their children’s autism may play a role in mothers’ psychological well-being. We investigated the predictive value of how mothers understand autism (as a neurodivergence or a developmental disorder) on their psychological distress. A group of 371 mothers of children on the autism spectrum participated in this study. We found that understanding autism as a neurodivergence was related to lower psychological distress in mothers, even after controlling for the level of autism symptoms. However, when controlling for caregiver burden, their attitude towards autism was no longer significant in explaining their psychological distress. These findings suggest that the way mothers understand autism may be important for their psychological adjustment. However, it also suggests that mothers of children on the autism spectrum may adopt different attitudes towards autism, depending on their child’s level of autism symptoms and the caregiver burden. Lay abstract Mothers of children on the autism spectrum experience high levels of emotional distress. Mothers cope with stress by having their own thoughts and opinions about their children. In this study, we tested whether the way mothers perceive autism may contribute to the level of distress they feel. Some mothers see autism as a developmental disorder that needs to be cured, but some see autism as a type of mind that needs to be accepted. Our findings showed that mothers who see autism more as a type of mind are generally less stressed. But we also showed that it matters how severe are the child’s symptoms, and how heavy was the perceived burden of caring for the child. These results imply that it is worth working on attitudes towards autism to help mothers cope better. But at the same time, we argue that mothers should not be judged for their perceptions of autism, as there is a huge spectrum of a child’s characteristics and family’s life circumstances.
Article
The experience of stigma by autistic people is relatively understudied, despite contributing to a range of poor outcomes and having an overarching impact on well-being. The current review of the literature synthesizes research to determine what is currently known and presents a theoretical model of autism stigma. Autism stigma is primarily influenced by a public and professional understanding of autism in combination with interpretation of visible autistic traits. Moderating factors include the quality and quantity of contact with autistic people, cultural factors, sex and gender, individual differences, and diagnostic disclosure. Stigma can reduce well-being as well as increase the presence of camouflaging behaviors, which mask autistic traits. Caregivers of autistic people can experience stigma by association, that is, affiliate stigma, which can impact their own well-being. A variety of interventions and approaches to reduce stigma are discussed, including "autism friendly"spaces, positive media representation, educational and psychosocial training for the public and professionals, as well as cultural and systemic shifts that foster inclusivity and recognize neurodiversity.
Book
People can best help dyslexic students once they understand dyslexia's association with anxiety and effective coping strategies, both cognitively and emotionally. By highlighting the perspectives of dyslexic students, this book evidences the prevalence of anxiety in dyslexic communities. The shared experience from a range of dyslexic learners pinpoints best practice models and helps combat the isolation felt by many with learning difficulties. The author targets academic areas where students struggle, offering techniques to overcome these barriers. Such obstacles are not always due to cognitive factors but may be associated with negative experiences, leading to fear and uncertainty. Recounting these sticking points through student voices, rather than from a staff viewpoint, enables readers to find meaningful solutions to dyslexia-related problems. Through this dynamic methodology, the book shows researchers and practitioners how to understand dyslexic needs on an emotional level, while presenting dyslexic readers with practical coping methods.
Article
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability affecting 1 in 10 people nationwide. Literature acknowledges the need for greater understanding of the educational needs of learners with dyslexia in UK Higher Education (HE). Research in this field often stems from neuropsychological viewpoints and neglects the perspectives of students. This study was designed to understand the lifelong learning experiences of students with dyslexia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with fourteen students. Transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three superordinate themes were identified: ‘Managing Feelings of Inferiority’, ‘Adapting to the Learning Environment’, and ‘Experience of Learning Support’. Analysis highlighted the range of challenges students face throughout education. Findings suggest that HE institutions need to be more effective in creating an inclusive learning environment that supports this underrepresented group. This will facilitate a reduction in the social and emotional barriers to learning and educational attainment for this population. • Points of interest • This article provides an in-depth understanding of the lifelong learning experiences of students with dyslexia in Great Britain. • Students with dyslexia continue to experience social, emotional and academic barriers to learning. • University undergraduates and postgraduates with dyslexia find it difficult to adjust to learning in HE but they have developed their own strategies to help. • This research found that technology does not always meet the learning needs of individuals with dyslexia, and students in HE often do not use it. Research needs to understand why students are not using technology to support their learning, and determine how to improve it. • Students in this study felt that their university needs to improve the learning support services available to them on campus, for example, one-to-one academic support and wellbeing drop-in services should be offered.
Preprint
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The connection between hunting traits and neurodiversity and autism was researched. Previous research has shown that the evolutionary adaptations to confrontation hunting practiced by hunter & gather societies are still important and expressed in team sports. The current study expanded on this and showed that both physical and psychological adaptations to confrontation hunting are still part of the typical population, but to a lesser degree in the neurodiverse or autistic. Instead, the neurodiverse and autistic population had physical and psychological adaptations to close combat hunting, which originated with Neanderthals. Rather than viewing neurodiversity as a set of independent traits, it can more successfully be considered to be a set of connected traits that originally were successful evolutionary adaptations.
Chapter
The purpose of this chapter is to explore data-driven hypotheses concerning linguistic similarities and differences in adults with nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The focus of the chapter is on profiling linguistic, cognitive, and neuropsychological strengths and weaknesses seen in both clinical groups. A research sample of adults from 19 to 44 years of age is described. Findings include strengths in the breadth of vocabulary and weaknesses in semantic precision and integration. A secondary finding, in which responses to adult autism screening surveys distinguish both clinical groups from controls, and the clinical groups from one another, is presented. Patterns and trends in this data point to difficulties with verbal and nonverbal gestalt formation that are amenable to intervention. Clinical examples of interventions suggested by the data are provided, as they apply to post-secondary students of the same age as the sample.
Article
Dyslexia, is one of the disorders with a greater prevalence among the group of the learning disorders. With the passing years many studies (observations) to explain the causes of dyslexia and to show the newest interventions in this field has been made. People withdyslexia have to overcome quite a few barriersduring theirlivesin order to be able to fulfiltheir dreams and achieve their targets. The fact that some of themare not assessedat an earlyage can affect their self-esteemand theirself-concept. Once theyare assessedresearch has proved that people with dyslexia learnbetter once they aretaught in their preferred learning style(Mortimore, 2003). In dyslexia one of the most commonly missed areas is the emotional side. Teachers and parents are very good at noticing problems with reading, writing, spelling and even maths. They can miss the growing element of lack of motivation, low self-esteem and upset which develops as the child goes through school and the pressures grow greater and greater. The frustration of children with dyslexia often centers on their inability to meet expectations. Their parents and teachers see a bright, enthusiastic child who is not learning to read and write. Time and again, dyslexics and their parents hear, "He's such a bright child; if only he would try harder." Ironically, no one knows exactly how hard the dyslexic is trying. The pain of failing to meet other people's expectations is surpassed only by dyslexics' inability to achieve their goals. This is particularly true of those who develop perfectionistic expectations in order to deal with their anxiety. They grow up believing that it is "terrible" to make a mistake. However, their learning disability, almost by definition means that these children will make many "careless" or "stupid" mistakes. This is extremely frustrating to them, as it makes them feel chronically inadequate. Thisinthe long termcan cause thema lot ofproblems in their personaland social life.
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Revising this paper about stigma towards college students with different diagnoses in response to reviewer feedback. This is the version submitted prior to upcoming revisions. The version accepted to JADD is now available above.
Article
Introduction: Creation of an inclusive learning environment and provision of individual adjustments are duties of higher education providers. However, laboratory practical teaching is not always inclusive beyond general university requirements. Lab classes can present many barriers to disabled learners. Proactive adjustments embedded into the design and preparation of laboratory classes can make lab-based teaching as inclusive and accessible as possible. Perspective: The main challenges, difficulties, and barriers experienced by students with disabilities during laboratory classes were identified and analysed. A review of a large number of sources was conducted, and the best available evidence of inclusive practice in science and medicine laboratories (including those already implemented in the Reading School of Pharmacy and Leicester School of Pharmacy) were retrieved, critically appraised, and summarized. Recommendations on embedding inclusive practices into the design and preparation of laboratory classes were developed, including methods for making the following accessible: (1) printed materials, such as handouts, instructions, notes, etc.; (2) video files; and (3) colours. Additionally, the use of a range of pedagogic techniques and assistive technologies in inclusive teaching is discussed. Implications: We have developed general accessibility guides and provided laboratory teaching staff with examples of good inclusive teaching practice. Active implementation of the inclusive-by-design approach, in contrast to inclusive-on-request, can be beneficial for both learners and teaching staff since inclusion-by-design helps to establish a lasting inclusive culture in teaching laboratories.
Thesis
The decision to request an assessment for dyslexia whilst at university is often one of the most complex decisions a student has to make. It involves careful examination of the implications; balancing any perceived benefits, against actual or potential disadvantages. Despite this, very little is known about factors which influence students making this decision. A two-phase exploratory qualitative approach was selected to identify how many university students consider being tested for dyslexia, how they proceed and reasons behind this. Phase 1 consisted of an online survey available to all students registered at one UK University. Data was obtained from 674 students at all stages of their educational journey, across 8 different faculties, including 533 on Undergraduate; 54 on Post-graduate taught and 85 on Post-graduate research programmes. Of these 310 students had considered being assessed and explained why they had chosen not to go ahead. In depth interviews with 6 of these students, and a further 5 who had been assessed then provided a greater understanding of the factors involved. Results revealed a myriad of reasons, with some considered pivotal. Students had to have reached a tipping point before they were sufficiently motivated to seek an assessment. Reaching this point was largely determined by their academic self- concept and how well they perceived that they were doing. When students did acknowledge that they were struggling, often after prompts by others; whether or not they recognised dyslexia as a possible explanation was influenced by their understanding of the condition. This in turn was heavily influenced by how they saw it manifest in others. All of the students who had been assessed did so following a prompt by a member of academic staff. There are clear implications for educational practice arising from this research, which need to be supported by policy change. These focus on the need to enhance understanding of dyslexia in both students and academic staff. Strategies to raise student awareness, alongside more in-depth staff development initiatives are proposed. There is also a need for future research to explore in detail factors influencing specific professional groups and postgraduate students.
Article
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Thematic analysis is a poorly demarcated, rarely acknowledged, yet widely used qualitative analytic method within psychology. In this paper, we argue that it offers an accessible and theoretically flexible approach to analysing qualitative data. We outline what thematic analysis is, locating it in relation to other qualitative analytic methods that search for themes or patterns, and in relation to different epistemological and ontological positions. We then provide clear guidelines to those wanting to start thematic analysis, or conduct it in a more deliberate and rigorous way, and consider potential pitfalls in conducting thematic analysis. Finally, we outline the disadvantages and advantages of thematic analysis. We conclude by advocating thematic analysis as a useful and flexible method for qualitative research in and beyond psychology.
Article
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Over the last decade, there has been an enormous increase in the number of studies evaluating the overlap of developmental syndromes or disorders in both children and adults. This overlap of symptoms is often referred to as comorbidity, a term we criticize in this article because of its unsubstantiated presumption of independent etiologies. The premise of this article is that discrete categories do not exist in real life, and that it is misleading to refer to overlapping categories or symptoms as "comorbidities." We illustrate our point by presenting data from 179 school-age children evaluated with rigorous research criteria for seven disorders: reading disability (RD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), developmental coordination disorder (DCD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), depression, and anxiety. Fully 50% of this sample met the criteria for at least two diagnoses. The children with ADHD were at higher risk of having at least a second disorder compared to the children with RD. Overall, the high rates of overlap of these behavioral, emotional, and educational deficits in this broadly ascertained sample support the idea that the concept of comorbidity is inadequate. We discuss the concept of atypical brain development as an explanatory idea to interpret the high rate of overlap of developmental disorders.
Book
About 1 in 20 individuals are dyslexic. This figure also applies for dyspraxia and ADHD. This fully revised edition of David Grant’s thought-provoking, insightful book develops our understanding of these specific learning differences and considers the further challenges presented by these overlapping conditions. This latest edition includes a brand-new chapter on dyscalculia. Revised sections also explore updates in the study of dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD as well as visualisation and synaesthesia, in the light of new data and research. These updates enable the reader to gain a fuller understanding of the sensory experiences and thoughts of individuals with specific learning differences. The author takes a life-style approach to explain many of the everyday experiences and choices of individuals with specific learning differences, including sleep, sports, visualisation and creativity, and uses real life examples explained in the words of those with specific learning differences. The accessible style of this book will immediately strike a chord with anyone with first- or second-hand experience of specific learning differences. It is invaluable and insightful reading for those with specific learning differences as well as their parents and/or partner, teachers, teaching assistants and SENCos.
Article
As wider access to higher education becomes a top priority for governments in the UK and around the world, this ground-breaking piece of work raises the challenging questions that policy-makers, vice-chancellors and government officials are reluctant to ask. A highly qualified team of authors have closely analyzed rates of participation and the experiences of disabled students in higher education over a two year period. They compare the responses of eight different universities to the new anti-discriminatory practice, contrasting their social profiles, academic missions, support systems for disabled students and approaches for the implementation of change. Change comes under particular scrutiny, with a close examination of each university's interpretation of 'reasonable adjustments', and the extent to which they have modified their campuses and teaching accordingly. Student case studies are used throughout to illustrate the real impact of institutional responses to the legislation. Disabled Students in Higher Education will make fascinating reading for students of education, social policy, politics, and disability studies, and for those working towards accredited university teacher status. © 2005 Sheila Riddell, Teresa Tinklin and Alastair Wilson. All rights reserved.
Article
College students, with or without disabilities, are faced with numerous stressful situations within the university environment. For an individual diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, success at this level requires non-traditional supports. With limited knowledge of this disorder, the university staff are faced with a distinct disadvantage in their efforts to outline an appropriate plan. While providing traditional academic assistance is now commonplace, federal laws mandate that universities widen the scope of support so as not to exclude any student from campus activities or programs. In an effort to provide a framework for support, this article interfaces diagnostic information with the realities of college life. Areas of focus include the transition process, social rules, engagement in academic activities, and mastering a new life of independence. It is hoped that the presented suggestions might prove helpful as universities begin to establish service support teams and outline plans of support.
Article
This paper provides a comparative analysis of data arising from three recent surveys of equal opportunity practice in relation to race, gender and disability. The surveys gathered information from a range of university departments and included questions about departmental structures and organisation as well as curriculum development. Instances of good practice are described, and some implications explored for the further development of equal opportunities in higher education.
Article
The self-esteem, anxiety and past and present educational histories of 16 dyslexic university students and 16 matched controls were compared.  Self-esteem was measured using the Culture-free Self-esteem Inventory and anxiety was measured with the State–Trait Anxiety Inventory.  A questionnaire devised by the research team was used to gather information on past and present educational histories, including a number of questions that could be rated on a five point scale.  The dyslexic group was found to have significantly lower self-esteem than the controls.  On the State–Trait Anxiety Inventory there was no significant difference between the groups.  On the five point rating scales the dyslexic group reported themselves as feeling more anxious and less competent in their written work at school than the controls and rated themselves at university as less competent both in their written work and in their academic achievements. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
Dyslexia is defined as a disability that primarily affects reading and writing. Internationally, the number of dyslexic students entering higher education is on the rise. It is estimated that students with dyslexia represent a small but significant minority. Many English-speaking countries have developed support services and teaching practices to accommodate dyslexic students’ educational needs. In Greece, research on dyslexia is very limited. The purpose of this study is to define the incidence of dyslexia among the Greek student population and to examine dyslexic students’ age, gender and major field of study. Data were collected from a total of 406 departments at all Greek public institutions of higher education (n = 32). The existing practices for identifying and provisions for supporting dyslexic students were also examined. The incidence of dyslexia in Greek higher education was estimated to be 0.16%, which is far below the estimated incidence in the general population. Interesting results were yielded regarding the variability of higher education institutions’ responses to dyslexia. In almost all Greek institutions, provision takes place in the form of oral examinations and generic counseling. technological education institutions (TEIs) seem to be more aware of the educational needs of dyslexic students, possibly because they have three times more dyslexic students than higher education institutions (HEIs). All Greek universities deal with the needs of dyslexic students on an individual basis, making provision reactive rather than proactive. The results of the present study are discussed in the light of inclusive education and equality of opportunity for students who learn in a different way but do not differ from their counterparts in terms of intelligence or general abilities.
Article
College students, with or without disabilities, are faced with numerous stressful situations within the university environment. For an individual diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, success at this level requires non-traditional supports. With limited knowledge of this disorder, the university staff are faced with a distinct disadvantage in their efforts to outline an appropriate plan. While providing traditional academic assistance is now commonplace, federal laws mandate that universities widen the scope of support so as not to exclude any student from campus activities or programs. In an effort to provide a framework for support, this article interfaces diagnostic information with the realities of college life. Areas of focus include the transition process, social rules, engagement in academic activities, and mastering a new life of independence. It is hoped that the presented suggestions might prove helpful as universities begin to establish service support teams and outline plans of support.
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Drawing the threads together Neurodiversity in higher education: Practical responses to specific learning differences
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Pollak, D. E. (2009). Drawing the threads together. In D. E. Pollak (Ed.), Neurodiversity in higher education: Practical responses to specific learning differences. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, in press.
Developmental dyslexia in adults: A research review
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Rise in dyslexia support sparks fairness concern
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Dismantling the glass wall between learning support and academic department: Establishing inclusive practices across a university
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Mortimore, T. (2008). Dismantling the glass wall between learning support and academic department: Establishing inclusive practices across a university. In Dyslexia: Making links. Seventh BDA international conference, Harrogate.
Students with disabilities in post secondary education—Issues and trends for a new decade
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Race, gender and disability: A comparative perspective
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First year UK domiciled HE students by qualification aim, mode of study, gender and disability
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Developing the AchieveAbility of an inclusive curriculum in Higher Education drawn from learning and teaching strategies for students with specific learning differences
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