Neurodiversity in the Academy

Type: Virtual Panel
Theme: Geographies of Access: Inclusion and Pathways
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 26
Organizers: Kate Rigot
Chairs:

Call for Submissions

This panel needs panelists! Please contact the panel organizer if you would like to be a panelist or participate in some other way. Panelists are not expected to be experts in the area of neurodiversity and inclusion, but should each have something substantial to contribute to one or more aspects of the topic. (See description for more on the topic.)

Possible topics of discussion can include:
-Barriers to access or full inclusion faced by neurodivergent (ND) students at both the undergraduate and graduate level
-Barriers to access or full inclusion faced by neurodivergent individuals seeking to be hired as faculty, gain tenure, or otherwise find a home within academia
-Alternatively, ways that academia can be an ideal or otherwise good fit for many neurodivergent individuals, and under which conditions
-Ways that the creativity, outside-the-box-thinking, and other things that characterize many neurodivergent conditions can allow some neurodivergent scholars to shape research in innovative ways
-Ways that college faculty or staff (neurodivergent or neurotypical) can proactively support individual neurodivergent students
-Ways that professors can implement teaching methods, coursework modalities, grading policies, etc. that are compatible across neurotypes; and other ways of encouraging a culture of neurodiversity inclusion in the classroom
-As we're seeing (some temporary, some long-term) trends toward online and virtual learning, how can virtual classroom modalities be used to enhance the experience of some ND students - such as students who are non-verbal or selectively mute but could use chat features alongside audio/visual inputs? Alternatively, how could such modalities pose additional challenges for certain other ND students, such as students with ADHD who may be distracted by competing visual inputs, or students with dyslexia or other learning disabilities who may be self-conscious about using chat features or online discussion boards?
-The tension between certain features of the culture of academia (such as competitiveness and hierarchy) and proclivities common to many Autistic individuals, who often spurn hierarchies, gravitate toward collaborative work with like-minded people, and may avoid self-promotion
-The role of neurodiversity clubs or similar, and how to implement them
-Ways that disability access centers or student groups can outreach to and support neurodivergent students
-Ways that campus organizations or support services serving other marginalized populations (LGBTQ centers, GSAs, support services or student organizations for students of color, women's centers, feminist clubs, other social justice organizations, etc.) can include and stand with neurodivergent students, faculty, and staff
-Ways that neurodiversity clubs and other organizations can themselves be inclusive of other marginalized populations and build solidarity with organizations by/for them
-Disability social movements and neurodivergent individuals
-The role of geographers and other social scientists in contributing to the body of scholastic knowledge about
-Geographies of neurodiversity and access, spatialities of neurodiversity and access
-Ways that academic journals and other publications can include and support ND scholars and authors, and otherwise challenge neuroableist norms
-Examples of noteworthy research on neurodiversity or by neurodivergent individuals
-Ways that the discipline of geography specifically (and other related disciplines) can benefit from the full inclusion of ND people, and ways it can better create a "home" for ND scholars and students
-Ways that the AAG and its annual meetings can be fully inclusive and visibly supportive of ND participants - alternatively, what things are already working well?


Description

Following the lead of several panel discussions that have been held over the past few AAG meetings related to mental health in the academy, this session is being organized to create a space for broad discussion of neurodiversity and/in the academy.

Rather than a traditional panel session, it is being organized as an open space for facilitated discussion among anyone with thoughts on or an interest in this topic -- regardless of neurotype or focus of professional work.


Anyone with questions, concerns, suggestions, or accommodation needs specific to this space, please contact the session facilitator at kathleen.rigot@ucdenver.edu


Background on neurodiversity
You may have been hearing the term “neurodiversity” thrown around a lot recently like a buzzword, but what is it really all about?


First coined in 1998 by Autistic sociologist Judy Singer, the term “neurodiversity” can refer to any of three different things:

1. The documented phenomenon of inter-individual differences in neurology, or “neurotype” - whether typical (“neurotypical”) or due to something like autism, ADHD, dyslexia and other learning disabilities, Tourette’s syndrome, intellectual and developmental disabilities, or a combination.

2. The neurodiversity paradigm, a perspective and discursive approach that holds that neurodiversity is a natural and important form of human diversity; there is no specific “correct” or “healthy” type of brain, mind, or neurocognitive style, and many people with atypical neurotypes could be better understood as “neurodivergent” (ND) rather than diseased, disordered, defective, or tragic ; and the extent to which many people believe otherwise is a result of a complex system of social power and normalizing narratives,

and

3. The neurodiversity movement, a burgeoning social movement that grew out of the Autistic self-advocacy movement that now advocates for civic protections, cultural acceptance, dignity, and enfranchisement for people of all neurotypes.


While the term is relatively new, neurodivergent people of course are not, and various societies throughout time and place have formed different frameworks around this phenomenon -- and have developed varying degrees of inclusion and integration of neurodivergent people.


And while not yet quite a household term, the concept has picked up steam in recent years, both outside of and inside academia -- with a few colleges and universities starting to integrate awareness around neurodiversity into their student support services and curricula, and even seeing the emergence of a few neurodiversity clubs and self-advocacy groups.


Further background on definitions can be found at

https://neurocosmopolitanism.com/neurodiversity-some-basic-terms-definitions/

Overview of the neurodiversity paradigm and movement can be found at

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/clearing-up-some-misconceptions-about-neurodiversity/



Possible topics for discussion
-Barriers to access or full inclusion faced by neurodivergent (ND) students at both the undergraduate and graduate level

-Barriers to access or full inclusion faced by neurodivergent individuals seeking to be hired as faculty, gain tenure, or otherwise find a home within academia

-Alternatively, ways that academia can be an ideal or otherwise good fit for many neurodivergent individuals, and under which conditions

-Ways that the creativity, outside-the-box-thinking, and other things that characterize many neurodivergent conditions can allow some neurodivergent scholars to shape research (on anything, not just their conditions) in innovative ways

-Ways that college faculty or staff (neurodivergent or neurotypical) can proactively support individual neurodivergent students

-Ways that professors can implement teaching methods, coursework modalities, grading policies, etc. that are compatible across neurotypes; and other ways of encouraging a culture of neurodiversity inclusion in the classroom

-As we're seeing (some temporary, some long-term) trends toward online and virtual learning, how can virtual classroom modalities be used to enhance the experience of some ND students? Alternatively, how could such modalities pose additional challenges for certain other ND students?

-The tension between certain features of the culture of academia (such as competitiveness and hierarchy) and proclivities common to many Autistic individuals, who often spurn hierarchies, gravitate toward collaborative work with like-minded people, and may avoid self-promotion

-The role of neurodiversity clubs or similar, and how to implement them

-Ways that disability access centers or student groups can outreach to and support neurodivergent students

-Neurodiversity and intersectionality

-Disability social movements and neurodivergent individuals

-The role of geographers and other social scientists in contributing to the body of scholastic knowledge about neurodiversity, autism, etc.

-Geographies of neurodiversity and access, spatialities of neurodiversity and access

-Ways that academic journals and other publications can include and support ND scholars and authors, and otherwise challenge neuroableist norms

-Examples of noteworthy research on neurodiversity or by neurodivergent individuals

-Ways that the discipline of geography specifically (and other related disciplines) can benefit from the full inclusion of ND people, and ways it can better create a "home" for ND scholars and students

-Ways that the AAG and its annual meetings can be fully inclusive and visibly supportive of ND participants -- alternatively, what things are already working well?


Agenda

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