Increasing College Student Understanding of Neurodiversity

The College of William and Mary's works to promote snd acknowledge student learning differences,

The College of William and Mary’s works to promote snd acknowledge student learning differences,

by Ariel Cohen -

When people think of diversity, they generally think of racial and cultural differences and numerous College of William and Mary student organizations aim to create a more diverse campus community. Recently, the College has begun working to increase student understanding of a different type of diversity —  neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is the practice of acknowledging differences in learning.

The College’s Disability Services Office currently works with 252 students with learning disabilities, in addition to an average of 25 temporary disability cases every year. One professional College administrator and one half-time graduate assistant cover the office.

“The challenges that students with disabilities face are varied and unique depending upon the disability,” Dean of Disabilities Lisa Colligan said in an e-mail. “The Disability Services Office is responsible for helping students with disabilities find the best way to navigate College life given their unique challenges.”

The Disability Services Office serves students with specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, Non-verbal Learning Disorder, visual processing disorder, and central auditory processing disorder. They also work with students that have attention deficit disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, mobility limitations, chronic health conditions, vision impairment, hearing impairment, speech disorders, arrested addictions and autism.

As a part of I AM W&M Week 2013, the Student Assembly is bringing speakers to campus to speak about the importance of understanding the value of neurodiversity.

On April 8, disability rights activist and Georgetown University student Lydia Brown gave a  lecture entitled “Politicized Disability and the Crisis of Disabled Oppression.” During her talk, Brown described the realities of life as a college student who learns differently than others.

According to Brown, people shouldn’t look a cure for learning disabilities, but instead should  seek to change society’s approach and understanding of neurodiversity. She wants students to become allies with those who have learning differences.

“We should build communities that actually uplift people not in spite of their afflictions but because of them,” Brown said. “If you are an abled person and you want to help out, you should step back and amplify the voices of those whom you wish to be allies for. The true ally is the one who recognizes that the most important voices that should be heard are the ones of the disabled community.”

Read more at College works to promote neurodiversity.

[Via The Flat Hat]

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