Growing Up “Wrong”: A Different Reality

In short, the ideal teacher should make students feel like people with interests and strengths, not broken things to be fixed.

It’s easy to say you love and believe in students or clients. It’s harder to teach them to navigate the world without communicating that the way they perceive, think, feel, speak, or move is intrinsically wrong.

Understand the Double Empathy Problem

Bridge the Double Empathy Gap

Think of yourself as a communication bridge. Image from iStock.

Know What to Teach, and Why

The key to teaching skills without devaluing a student is to know the difference between looking normal and actually functioning.

Know that etiquette and social skills vary based on age, culture, and other factors

  1. Recognize that their own country’s mainstream cultural attitudes towards eye contact and small talk aren’t universal. Nor are they comfortable for many people with disabilities. Thus, they would teach these norms with humility.
  2. Learn as much as they can about how people of their student’s age and cultural background actually socialize — not how we think they do, or wish they did. (One can start and learn much from naturalistic observation of children at the playground or in school aftercare programs. Additionally, a world of research exists. Sociology, developmental and social psychology, anthropology, group dynamics, and more investigate how children and adults interact).

Know Your Students

In Short

References

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Mosaic of Minds: A Disability Research Review

Mosaic of Minds: A Disability Research Review

Emily Morson explains research on neurodivergent brains through the lens of cognitive neuroscience, SLP, & lived experience. #neurodiverseSTEM cofounder.