According to the Department of Education, 15% of students in the United Kingdom have a learning difference. I am one of those students. I am dyslexic, dyspraxic, autistic and have ADHD. I know what it feels like to have your classmates assume you are not smart because you cannot spell and because you struggle to read. I know what it feels like to be frustrated, embarrassed and humiliated at school. Like me, many neurodiverse students have negative school experiences. At school, we are required to do things we find incredibly challenging and we are constantly reminded of what we can’t do. This can be very discouraging and demoralising.
It is time to change the way schools, teachers and other students perceive us.
Schools should stop focusing on what we cannot do and should begin to acknowledge and celebrate the many positive aspects of being neurodiverse.
It is important for schools to recognise our many strengths: our creativity, innovation, ability to think outside-the-box, problem-solving skills, unique insights and perspectives, perseverance and resilience.
We are the dreamers. The pioneers. The change-makers. The future business leaders. We are the trailblazers. The adventurers. The discoverers. We are the Einsteins and Bransons of tomorrow.
Yet, our ability to fulfil our potential is being threatened by the stigma associated with having a special educational need and the misconceptions many people still have about people with learning differences. We are also more vulnerable to being mistreated. In a 2017 bullying report by Ditch the Label, 70% of students with learning differences reported being bullied at school.
It is time to create a more positive perception about what it means to be neurodiverse. We need your help. Please support your students with learning differences by pledging to take part in the first ever Neurodiversity Celebration Week.