SEN & neurodiversity

Self-Directed Education particularly suits children who do not fit the mainstream mould.
Dr Naomi Fisher
Clinical Psychologist

difference or disorder?

We are all different. Some of those differences make it harder to exist in the world. Some find busy crowds and loud noises intolerable, whilst others thrive when surrounded with people and immersed in action. Some learn to read very young and apparently without effort, for others it takes years and a more intentional approach.
The conventional way of seeing these differences is as disorders, particularly if they affect how a child performs in the education system.


There are other ways of thinking about behaviour, which still acknowledge that people are different, and that these differences can make it more difficult to exist in our world.

Neurodiversity is the idea that people’s brains are different, and that these differences are not best viewed as disorders. Instead, they are just a way that someone is, right now.

a different approach

Neurodiversity focuses our attention on the way in which the environment interacts with a person’s differences. Let’s take the example of a child who does not learn to read until they are nine. In school, this is a big problem. That child will be in remedial lessons, they will be diagnosed with special educational needs and quite possibly dyslexia. Everyone will know that there is a problem. The child may well feel shame about their reading, and develop a sense of themselves as lacking in some way.

If instead we asked ourselves whether perhaps it’s part of the natural spectrum of development that not all children are ready to learn to read at age five or six, then we might conclude that adults need to change the education system to reflect just how diverse human development is. 

celebrating individuals

In our community, a child may learn things in an entirely different order to school. By not comparing them to their peers, we can allow their diversity to flourish and their strengths to be appreciated. This is very different to an approach which focuses on how children can ‘catch-up’ or learn to fit in. By celebrating each individual for who they are, Democratic Education allows them to learn to manage their differences and to create learning environments which work for them as individuals.

Read more about Self Directed Education and Neurodiversity on Dr Naomi Fisher’s blog

a personal approach

We have lots of experience of supporting children who have been diagnosed with different SEN including dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, autism, PDA,  ADD and ADHD.

Instead of having a set approach, we discuss the child’s needs with themselves and their parents and together we figure out what will work best for each individual.

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