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Neurodiversity and Exam Results – why this is only the beginning, not the end.

A group of students standing in a circle reading exam results on a tablet

Are you feeling down about your exam results? Do you think they define your worth or your future? If so, you need to read this.

In this article we will share with you some inspiring stories of neurodiverse people who have overcome the challenges of standardised tests and achieved remarkable things in life. We will also explain what neurodiversity is, why it is a strength, and how you can make the most of it.

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is a term that describes the natural variation in the human brain. It means that people have different ways of thinking, learning, and processing information. Some examples of neurodiverse conditions are dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, autism, and more.

Neurodiversity is not a disorder or a disability. It is simply a difference. And like any difference, it comes with both challenges and strengths.

Why You Shouldn’t Let Exam Results Define You

One of the biggest challenges that neurodiverse people face is standardised testing. These tests are often designed for neurotypical people, who have more common or expected ways of functioning. They do not take into account the diverse needs and preferences of neurodiverse people. They also do not measure the unique skills and talents that neurodiverse people have.

That is why many neurodiverse people struggle with exams. They may find them boring, stressful, confusing, or irrelevant. They may have difficulty with reading, writing, spelling, memory, or time management. They may feel anxious, frustrated, or discouraged by their performance.

But does that mean they are less intelligent or capable than others? Absolutely not.

There are many examples of neurodiverse people who have proven that exam results do not determine your success or happiness in life. They have followed their passions and dreams, and achieved amazing things in various fields and professions.

One of them is Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group. He has dyslexia, which means he has difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling. He also struggled with school and dropped out at 16. However, he did not let his exam results or his dyslexia stop him from pursuing his passions and dreams.

In a blog post on Virgin’s website, Branson shared his message to anyone disheartened by exam results. He said:

“The reason why I think people who are dyslexic seem to do well in life, having struggled at school, is that we tend to simplify things. We don’t get lost in the weeds or bogged down by jargon – we look at the bigger picture and try to make things better for everyone. We also learn the art of delegation – finding brilliant people to work with who can do all the things we can’t.”

Branson also encouraged young people to follow their interests and passions, and to seek out mentors and opportunities that can help them grow and learn. He said:

“There is no set path in life – you can create your own destiny. So don’t be disheartened if your exam results aren’t what you hoped for. Remember that exams are not the only measure of success – far from it. The world needs all kinds of minds, and all kinds of talents. So whether you are neurotypical or neurodiverse, don’t let anything hold you back from achieving your goals.”

How to Embrace Your Neurodiversity and Achieve Your Goals

Branson is not the only example of a neurodiverse person who has achieved remarkable things in life. There are many other famous and successful people who have neurodivergent conditions, such as:

  • Emma Watson, a highly successful actress, activist, and UN ambassador who has ADHD.
  • Tim Burton, a filmmaker and screenwriter who has autism and is known for his wacky and disturbing art.
  • Albert Einstein, a theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity and had ADHD, dyslexia, and possibly autism.
  • Lewis Capaldi, a singer-songwriter who has tourette’s syndrome and has won multiple awards for his music.
  • Greta Thunberg, an environmental activist who has autism and has inspired millions of people to join her climate strike movement.

These are just some of the many examples of neurodiverse people who have made a positive impact on the world with their skills, creativity, and passion.

Neurodiversity is not only about challenges, but also about strengths. Many neurodiverse people have incredible abilities that can benefit themselves and others in various ways. Some of the common strengths of neurodiversity include:

  • Hyperfocus: The ability to concentrate intensely on a task or topic for a long period of time.
  • Creativity: The ability to generate original and innovative ideas or solutions.
  • Visual reasoning: The ability to process information through images or patterns rather than words or numbers.
  • Detail orientation: The ability to notice and remember small or specific details that others might miss.
  • Pattern recognition: The ability to identify connections or similarities between different pieces of information or situations.

These strengths can be useful in many fields and professions, such as science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics (STEAM), law, journalism, education, entertainment, and more. Neurodiverse people can bring valuable perspectives and insights that can enhance the quality and diversity of work.

However, these strengths are often overlooked or undervalued by conventional systems that favour neurotypical ways of functioning. Many neurodiverse people face barriers and challenges in accessing education, employment, health care, social services, and other aspects of life. They may experience discrimination, stigma, bullying, isolation, or exclusion because of their differences.

That is why it is important to raise awareness and understanding of neurodiversity among everyone. We need to create more inclusive and supportive environments that respect and celebrate the diversity of human brains. We need to provide reasonable adjustments and accommodations that enable neurodiverse people to access and participate in various opportunities. We need to recognise and utilise the strengths of neurodiversity rather than focusing on the weaknesses.

How to Access Support for Your Neurodiversity

If you are a neurodiverse student in the UK, you may be eligible for various forms of support to help you with your studies and your wellbeing. Some of the support options available are:

  • Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA): This is a grant that can help you pay for extra costs you may have because of your condition. It can cover things like specialist equipment, software, study skills support, mentoring, or travel costs. You can apply for DSA through Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland, or Student Awards Agency Scotland, depending on where you live or study.
  • Reasonable adjustments: These are changes that your university or college can make to help you access your course and exams. They can include things like extra time, alternative formats, assistive technology, note-taking support, or exam arrangements. You can request reasonable adjustments from your university or college’s disability service or neurodiversity support team.
  • Neurodiversity screening and assessment: This is a process that can help you identify if you have a specific learning difference, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia. It can also provide you with a formal diagnosis and a report that outlines your strengths and needs. You can access neurodiversity screening and assessment through your university or college’s neurodiversity support team, or through external organisations such as the British Dyslexia Association or Dyslexia Action.
  • Neurodiversity resources: These are online tools and materials that can help you with your learning and development. They can include things like accessibility software, study skills guides, podcasts, videos, blogs, or webinars. You can find neurodiversity resources from various websites such as Neurodiversity Hub, Diversity and Ability, Do-IT Solutions, Lexxic, Genius Within, or Exceptional Individuals.

These are just some of the support options available for neurodiverse students in the UK. You may also find other sources of support from your tutors, peers, mentors, counsellors, family, friends, or community groups. The key is to seek out the support that works best for you and your goals.

At ToHealth LTD, we believe in the power and potential of neurodiversity. We offer a range of services and products that cater to the needs and preferences of neurodiverse people. Whether you need help with learning, working, or living, we are here to support you and help you thrive.

If you want to learn more about our services and products, please visit our website or contact us today. We would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have.

Looking for more from ToHealth?

Not only do ToHealth specialise in providing end-to-end Neurodiversity support for companies, but did you know ToHealth also specialise in Employee Wellbeing? Looking to find out more about our Health Screenings? Or interested in our huge variety of webinars and workshops on offer? ToHealth can support you with all of this and more.