In this learning diversity section, you’ll hear about some of the advantages of learning disabilities/differences, tips for students with ADHD, ways to circumvent speaking anxiety, and more.
Tips from Our Learning Specialists
- Read about the strengths associated with neurodiversity, both individually and globally. Consider how you can leverage your unique combination of strengths.
- Recognize there are no one-size-fits-all methods to succeed. Examine your methods and commit to using only the practices that yield the best results for you in particular.
- Join affinity groups, such as the ones offered by the Learning Lab, to share experiences, strategies, and connections.
- Engage with the Learning Lab's podcast: The Filament
- Hear from the Learning Disabilities Association of America: LDA Podcast
- Listen to Stanford Business School's Think Fast, Talk Smart: Hacking Your Speaking Anxiety
- Subscribe to the Learning Lab’s YouTube Channel
- How Stress Affects the Mind
- Embracing Dyslexia as a Software Engineer
- The True Gifts of a Dyslexic Mind
- Dyslexia at Oxford: 21 Conversations About Dyslexia
- After Watching This, Your Brain Will Not Be The Same (neuroplasticity and learning research)
- The Myth of Average
- How I Succeed at Harvard with ADHD
- Living with ADHD in the Age of of Information and Social Media
- Making ADHD Your Superpower
Additional Resources at Stanford
- Sign up for a drop-in session with us! With a Learning Lab Learning Specialist, you can talk about these strategies in more depth, personalize the approaches to suit your needs, and be supported as you practice.
- OAE/Stanford Office of Accessible Education
- DisCo/Stanford Disability Community Space
- Stanford Disability Organizations
- Stanford Neurodiversity Project
- Stanford Diversity and Access Office
- Institutional Equity and Access at Stanford
- DEI in VPUE
- IDEAL Initiative at Stanford
- Stanford Digital Accessibility
- Armstrong, T. (2015). The myth of the normal brain: embracing neurodiversity. AMA Journal of Ethics, 17(4), 348-352. Read the article here.
- People can have preconceptions that there are normal and abnormal brains. Armstrong argues that there is ample research that “many disorders of the brain or mind bring with them strengths as well as weaknesses.” Armstrong argues that we should emphasize these strengths, especially among individuals with ASD, Dyslexia, and ADHD. Armstrong cites research show people with dyslexia tend to show higher global visual-spatial abilities, people with ADHD show enhanced creativity, and people with ASD have strengths related to working with systems. Armstrong advocates that we adopt a diversity perspective that values everyone’s unique strengths.
- Chathurika, K., Jerome. C., Sowmya, P., Rosie, A. (2018). Not all those who wander are lost: examining the character strengths of dyslexia. Glob J Intellect Dev Disabil. 4(5): 555648. Read the article here.
- Research has shown that people with dyslexia tend to be adept at creative and spatial-reasoning tasks. People with dyslexia also tend to make connections that help them see the “big picture.” To examine the character strengths associated with dyslexia, this study surveyed 89 people with dyslexia from the UK and USA through a dyslexia-friendly website. The survey consisted of 240 questions. The signature character strengths of people with dyslexia identified through the survey are curiosity, fairness, kindness, judgment, honesty, leadership, and humor.
Sedgwick, J.A., Merwood, A. & Asherson, P. (2019). The positive aspects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a qualitative investigation of successful adults with ADHD. ADHD Atten Def Hyp Disord. 11, 241–253. Read the article here.
This research study examines strengths associated with ADHD, a condition that exists on a continuum. Researchers conducted in depth interviews with 6 adults who had been recently diagnosed with ADHD and received medication. Researchers concluded that the following qualities and themes are positive aspects of ADHD: cognitive dynamism and energy (intense focus, nonlinear thinking, flashes of imagery), divergent thinking (originality), hyper-focus (ability to achieve flow), nonconformist (ability to think and feel differently), adventurousness (ability to have fun), self-acceptance (emotional intelligence), and sublimation (ability to practice cognitive reappraisal). While this was a small sample size and may not generalize to all ADHD experiences, there are documented strengths of people with ADHD.
Shmulsky, S., Gobbo, K., Donahue, A., & Klucken, F. (2021). Do neurodivergent college students forge a disability identity? A snapshot and implications. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 34(1) 53-63. Read the article here.
The question of whether neurodivergent college students form disability identities is posed to 92 participants at a school serving students with learning differences/disabilities, ADHD, and/or ASD. Researchers learned that all of the students either realized or accepted their neurodivergent identity; none of the students were passive about this aspect of their identities. Recognizing learning disability identity entails seeing the challenges and benefits of neurodiversity. The implications of the research suggest that increased awareness of college community members around neurodiversity, including offering affinity groups which can be supportive of students’ identity formation, are important. Meeting disclosures of disability identities with inclusion is a social justice issue. This often invisible form of diversity is important to the successful functioning of society as a whole.