About Authenticity Academy
- a note from Emily Marcus, founder
Working in Special Education, I have rarely heard others utter the word neurodiversity. Being neurodivergent myself, I was often put off by the lack of discussion around neurodiversity in almost every school I’d worked in.
Neurodiversity is the belief that those with diverse brains and celebrated and are accepted and embraced in society. Neurodiversity is a term that describes individuals who have neurological or mental functioning differences than most people. Any disability affecting the mind/brain falls under the neurodivergence umbrella. This includes Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Epilepsy, Learning Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities, PTSD, Autism, ADHD, OCD and more.
Growing up with no formal diagnosis, I learned to hide my neurodivergent qualities (this is called masking.) This was a survival mechanism to get through time in a space that was not designed for students like me. Though the world is continually changing and adapted better to the needs of minority groups, there is still a lot of change that needs to take place in order to make the world neurodivergent friendly. It is important to spread awareness on this topic so that less and less kids feel like they have to mask who they are in order to be accepted.
To combat unaccepting traditions, Authenticity Academy and all of it’s staff will…
USE RESPECTFUL TERMINOLOGY
Our words are incredibly powerful. Our staff will ask our clients what their preference for person-first or identify-first language is. Staff will model for all clientsthat it’s okay to have a preference and to advocate for themselves on the terminology used to describe them by others. Most people have been taught to use person-first language (ex: person with autism) but many people actually prefer to refer to themselves as autistic, because they feel like their disability is a part of their identity. Furthermore, many people find terms such as special needs, differently abled and other terms to erase their identities.
AWARENESS OF SENSORY DIFFERENCES
Neurodivergent individuals process their environment differently than a neurotypical person does. Sometimes our senses are overwhelmed or lacking something and we may need to seek out sensory experiences to put us back into balance. Sometimes, sensory dysregulation distracts neurodivergent individuals which can create a barrier to learning. At Authenticity Academy, we recognize that sensory needs will need to be fulfilled before learning can take place. We strive to support our clients in learning to regulate themselves so they can learn free of barriers.
ADAPT TEACHING METHODS
We know that every human learns differently, and neurodivergent people aren’t any different. We affirm our clients’ differences by differentiating our instruction to eliminate as many of the things that hinder their learning as possible. We recognize that some youth will need accommodations in the community and beyond and we will recognize and implement them accordingly.
Some goals have the intention of changing behaviors, not to benefit the individual, but to make them appear more neurotypical. We believe that the focus needs to shift from making neurodivergent youth blend in, to giving them the tools they need to thrive in any environment without having to alter who they are.