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Neurodiversity Resources

This guide contains resources for faculty, staff, and students interested in supporting and learning about nerurodiversity and neurodivergent students.

Questions to Ask Neurodivergent Students

Questions to ask a neurodivergent student (and/or a student you suspect would benefit from accomodations/support):

  • What accommodations have you used or have been recommended for you to use?

  • What experience have you had with each accommodation including your successes and concerns?

  • What accommodations fit into this situation?

  • How can I help you use the accommodation(s)?

  • What can we do to troubleshoot your use of the accommodation(s)?

  • For more great resources visit our Diversabilties Support Program and Services 

Best Practices for Classroom Faculty and Support Services

  • Promote equity through individual interactions with students and advocate for a campus that values diversity through universal design and celebrations of success. 

  • Limit the use of ambiguous language in signage, when delivering support, and giving instructions.

  • Educate the campus community by providing information about neurodivergent students and tangible recommendations on how to work with students. How can OIEA help us with this? How can we collaborate more with neurodivergent students, faculty, staff,  and admin?

  • Create policies designed to support students and enforce current policies on a consistent basis. 

  • Focus on task specific programs and social engagement rather than disability or deficiency. 

  • Provide students with sensory accommodations to address the functional limitations. How would this affect our student support services spaces?

Classroom Faculty: First Steps and Best Practices

  • Provide a classroom environment that welcomes diversity and individuality.

  • Provide clear and structured guidelines/expectations and boundaries.

  • Be open to the students who disclose the need for accommodations.

  • Limit ambiguity and provide students with concrete and explicate directions, particularly in written documents such as course syllabi and institutional policies.

  • Make efforts to build relationships via advising meetings that occur on a regular and scheduled basis.

  • Discuss our work with neurodivergent students with others.

  • Acknowledge and question “common sense” or “common knowledge”expectations.

  • Redirect persistent questioning.

  • Be mindful of sensory overload. 

  • Provide alternatives to group work and/or don’t make assumptions about our students’ abilities to engage in group work.

  • Use universal design concepts in your instruction.

Student Support Services and Administration: First Steps and Best Practices

  • Ensure that our college has a collective understanding of the needs of neurodivergent students. What would this look like if we don’t already see it on campus? 

  • Facilitate our college’s disability/diversability services department (DSP&S) working collaboratively with other departments in developing programs that both help to integrate these students and inform the employees.

  • Consider a summer-school transition program for for neurodivergent students to aid in familiarization and build emotional comfort.

  • Start including some of these best practices and strategies in our AUPS/yearly reports!

  • De-escalation training with a focus on neurodivergent students.

Deescalation Tips

Below are suggestions for de-escalating challenging interactions with any patron/student, including but esepcially students with ASD:

  1. Be empathetic of the person's feelings.  Focus on how the person feels rather than arguing over facts or details. Recognize that a patron with ASD may be feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, and may be struggling to regulate these feelings. Try not to take it personally if the person is sharp or sounds angry.

  2. Maintain appropriate personal space. Do not encroach on their space or attempt to touch the person. Gently redirect those who do not maintain appropriate physical space with you. 

  3. Be purposefully nonthreatening in your verbal and nonverbal communication. The person may be reactive to a loud voice or may misinterpret subtle facial expressions.

  4. Maintain control over your own reaction. Do not express agitation, anger, or other negative emotions. Be calm and professional. Remember to breathe!

  5. Avoid using sarcasm, humor, or laughing. While this may be hard to do if you are nervous, make a conscious effort to avoid these behaviors as it may make the person feel mocked and dismissed. Those with ASD will particularly struggle with understanding humor and may take it as an insult.

  6. Avoid power struggles. Do not feel that you must respond to questions that challenge your authority, but rather redirect the person to the issue being discussed. Some people may be very insistent and not pick up on boundaries you attempt to set. Continue to redirect and offer alternatives. 

  7. Set appropriate limits. If the person is disruptive or belligerent, give them a specific and enforceable limit. Always be sure to offer a positive choice first. Pick your battles and be flexible whenever possible by giving the person acceptable alternatives. 

  8. Don't be afraid of silence. Allow the person to reflect on what is being said and to make a decision. Even a few moments may allow the person to calm down and make a better choice with their actions.

  9. Don't attempt to restrict the person's physical movements or touch the person. People may be particularly averse to touch.

  10. Maintain your focus on being helpful to the person and attempt to focus on their information needs rather than their behaviors. What seems like a trivial information request may be of vital importance for a person with ASD seeking information on their special interest.

This content was taken from The Library Juice Academy course Library Resources and Services for Patrons on the Autism Sprectrum