Embrace Neurodiversity in Schools

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About 20% of students in schools have a special educational need. Yet, there is still a stigma and many stereotypes and misconceptions around learning differences and autism. I know, because I am a 16-year old student who happens to be dyslexic, dyspraxic and autistic. I also have ADHD.

Sadly, at school we are often misunderstood, teased and bullied. In a recent study, 70% of students with learning differences and 75% of autistic students reported being bullied. I have been bullied at school for being autistic and for having learning differences for most of my life. I have grown up being called derogatory names at school, such as "freak," "weirdo," and "stupid." Like many autistic students, I have had to change schools a few times in order to be safe from intolerance and abuse.

I believe it is important for schools to teach their students to be accepting of people who are different, including students who are neurodivergent. I am petitioning for schools to be required to include neurodiversity in their Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) curriculum (a school subject that aims to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes we need to manage our lives now and in the future). 

A two-hour PSHE lesson on learning differences and autism will go a long way to addressing some of the entrenched misconceptions that still exist about dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and ADHD, such as:

  • that girls cannot be autistic, especially if they are social and well-behaved
  • that only boys can have ADHD
  • that you cannot be autistic if you look "normal"
  • that students with learning differences are not smart

Please support this campaign so that neurodivergent students do not continue to be misunderstood and mistreated at school. Every student deserves to be treated with respect. 

 

Twitter: @QLMentoring

Website: www.QLMentoring.com