Design Inclusive Classrooms for Neurodiverse Students
Educators want to support the range of neurodiversity among students, and 91% of Canadian teachers say training would help make classrooms more inclusive for students. However, other tools are often overlooked when creating an inclusive learning environment for students with neurodivergent traits, including those caused by autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The term is often used in contrast with “neurotypical” behavior, while neurodiversity includes the full range of cognitive skills and behaviors among all people.
So besides training, educators need better tools and physical spaces to accommodate all their learners. Here are some ways you can design your classrooms and learning spaces to make learning more inclusive.
Supporting Neurodiversity in the Classroom
While teaching educators about neurodiversity is a good start, students need an environment that accommodates all types of learning needs and preferences. The environment includes the physical aspects of a room, like the lighting, the visual features, the temperature, and tools like microphones, loudspeakers, and projectors that create colors, images, and sounds in the room.
Students need to feel comfortable in an environment to learn at their full potential. So a lot of environmental considerations will depend on the learners, the type of institution, and courses offered. And many accommodations and tools can be made accessible to all students without making individuals submit special requests.
Designing Inclusive Learning Spaces
There’s not necessarily an ideal classroom for neurodivergent learners. For example, some require space for movement while others require quiet to avoid sensory overload. Additionally, student needs may change based on the activity like those that require concentration or social interaction.
Therefore, the best learning environments for neurodiversity are those that are flexible. Give students some choices in their environment, like their type of seating or the use of weighted blankets. Then, teachers can make environmental adjustments that will affect everyone in the space. The instructors should have control over features like volume, lighting, and communication and collaboration equipment. Consider that some students will have issues like being sensitive to sensory stimulation, noise levels, room temperature, proximity to other students, room lighting, and colors. So it’s necessary for teachers to have a variety of options in their classrooms.
Technology for Inclusive Learning
Technology is one of the best tools for creating inclusive and equitable learning. When considering learning spaces, it’s important to include students who are learning remotely. Many neurodivergent students want stability and routine. That means both the educator and remote learner should have reliable audiovisual equipment to see and hear each other clearly.
A remote student needs meeting software, a microphone, a loudspeaker, and a laptop camera. In a classroom setting, it gets more complicated. However, you should try to provide all students with access to tools like:
- Screen readers
- Voice recognition software
- Writing and grammar software
- Assistive communication devices
Planning an inclusive learning environment requires strategy and a lot of planning, particularly with a limited education budget. It helps to work with a technology professional experienced in education.
If you want to use technology to make your learning spaces more inclusive and accommodating of neurodiversity, talk to one of Nationwide Audio Visual’s education experts.