American parents are worried that the interruption in the regular education of their children due to the pandemic could lead to them missing developmental milestones. This was revealed in a survey undertaken in 2021 by a US-based non-profit.
Understood, a New-York based non-profit organization that works for people with intellectual disabilities and their parents or caregivers, also announced its 2022 neurodiversity predictions. Based on industry analysis and backed by data, the predictions touch upon certain key shifts in the trends in the USA, that, if left unaddressed, have the potential to adversely affect people who learn and think differently.
The first prediction says that ignoring the neurodiverse human resource in society is akin to wasting the talent and skills of almost one-fifth (20%) of the population if organizations do not take immediate steps to prioritize inclusivity and neurodiversity. They suggested introducing small accommodations including flexible working hours and dual verbal and written content as a way to ensure that neurodiverse employees feel valued at the workplace. It can also help the organizations to tap into incredible talent and unique perspectives that neurodiversity can bring to the table, they said.
“Accommodations seem like big undertakings, but they are often very simple and affordable to incorporate,” comments Yvonne Cowser Yancy, Chief Administrative Officer and Head of Workplace, Understood. “When you structure your workplace for the 20% of people who have learning and thinking differences — whether they disclose them or not — you create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all.”
The second prediction revolved around the pandemic-induced interruptions in the education of children in the years 2020 and 2021. A survey undertaken by Understood last year found that 50% of American parents were afraid about their wards facing challenges at school due to the interruptions of their education. To help their kids in any way that they can, families might also push for special education evaluation – even for children with no such requirements. According to the predictions, this could put additional strain on special education resources of the country, that are already stretched thin, in the coming year, negatively impacting those with intellectual disabilities.
The third prediction was that if the mental health of teachers is not given priority in 2022, it will widen the achievement gap for students with intellectual disabilities even further. Teachers across the world have had to rapidly adapt to the online schooling model which has considerably increased their workload. According to another survey by Understood, 58% of teachers across the USA reported burnout, an even higher number of special needs teachers feel the same way. If schools don’t take effective steps to prioritize the mental health of the teachers on their payroll, they could witness mass resignations.
“From increased co-teaching opportunities to new solutions to streamline evaluation processes, schools must take immediate action in 2022 to better support educators and prevent these achievement gaps from growing any wider,” elaborates Bob Cunningham, Executive Director of Learning Development, Understood.
The detailed predictions and actionable steps identified by Understood’s team of experts can be accessed here.