Blog by: Hadia Ijaz
Neurotypical is defined as, “a term used to describe individuals of typical developmental, intellectual, and cognitive abilities.” In an educational setting, it is a widely known fact that students who tend to be on the neurotypical spectrum have more resources and help than those who are neuroatypical when it comes to learning material.
The way that the education system has been set up for students is surrounding the idea that the kids will grow to be part of what is considered a typical working environment. This would include your basic 9-5 jobs and any work that focuses on what is referred to as a blue or white collared base. However, the students who are neuroatypical may be left out. On top of straying from the norm and facing difficulties in areas outside of education, a hindrance to their learning environment can be devastating for the children in their developmental stages. The teachers that are in charge of these students are oftentimes not equipped properly to handle students who may not have typical social skills or the “normal” learning style. Due to this lack of education, the parents then place these students in the hands of some teachers (not all) who may not be prepared to help care for the minds of these students and so the students are forced into thinking they are lacking because they work differently than others. This specifically affects neuroatypical kids who come from underprivileged and low-income backgrounds.
There are many ways that we can begin to support kids who have autism spectrum or are neuroatypical. This can start with implementing teaching programs to train educators on how to best educate these students. A second action that can be taken is creating a system where “different” kids can be taught the material in a manner that caters towards their learning needs as the students who learn it through the “norm.” Specifically for students on the autism spectrum, it is important to focus on sensory reactions by making an environment for students to maximize their growth. Roosevelt Elementary (and many other elementary schools in Michigan) hosted a class specifically set to give personalized care to students who were on the autism spectrum. The class gave them opportunities to not feel lacking or inferior. However, as previously mentioned many schools simply do not have the funding to separate students based on their learning disabilities. We have seen students that are neuroatypical were placed in the same classes as those who were not. To create the best learning environment for students who are in these underprivileged schools, people can help with funding by donating so that they have the resources they need.
Policies can set forth the change that needs to be made to the education system so that it can be more inclusive and diverse. A policy that pushes for an equal educational platform is the Autism Cares Act of 2019. This act benefits to better the care for individuals who are on the autism spectrum, which will also help in raising the budget to approximately 370 million for autism effort. It would be great for more policies to be added that not only target people who are on the autism spectrum, but also students who go through other mental conditions (ADHD, etc) Governor Gretchen Whitmer also recently announced that there will be $65 million in federal funds for low-income school districts. Mandatory education on these illnesses can help other students be more accustomed to the symptoms and in turn, help out their peers by creating a well balanced and healthy school environment.
The issue at hand is the unfair balance in the support given to neuroatypical students versus neurotypical students. It is important to start the journey of assisting the students who have been neglected for so long. Every mind matters the same and it is important to nurture them based on that principle.
Brusie, Chaunie. “Neurotypical: All You Need To Know and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 July 2017, www.healthline.com/health/neurotypical.
Ito, Joi. “The Educational Tyranny of the Neurotypicals.” Wired, Conde Nast, www.wired.com/story/tyranny-neurotypicals-unschooling-education/.
Roth, Andrew. “Whitmer Announces $65 Million in Federal Funds for Low-Income School Districts.” Flint Beat, 19 Aug. 2020, flintbeat.com/whitmer-announces-65-million-in-federal-funds-for-low-income-school-districts/.
Writers, Staff. “Supporting Students with Autism: Expert Tips and Resources.” AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org, AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org, 3 Sept. 2020,
“Autism CARES Act of 2019.” IACC, iacc.hhs.gov/about-iacc/legislation/autism/cares-act-2019/.