The Neurodivergent Saint is a project funded by the University of St Andrews School of Modern Languages EDI committee, aiming to provide resources about neurodivergence and how to make a more accessible classroom.
The project’s podcast explores neurodivergence and neurodiversity in academia, as well as the works of neurodivergent academics.
Neurodiversity in Academia
When someone is neurodivergent (sometimes abbreviated as ND) it means that their brain functions and reacts to stimuli different than what is considered typical. Neurodivergence is an umbrella term which covers mutliple neurodivergent conditions, such as ADHD, autism (ASD), dyscalculia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, OCD, Tourette’s syndrome, etc. If someone is neurodivergent, they have one or more of these conditions. It is important to note that there is no one way of being neurodivergent; people who are neurodivergent in the same way may have completely different experiences and needs.
A neurotype is, essentially, one type of “wiring”. One type of brain and the way it reacts to stimuli.
This definition can be appraoched in two ways. The scientific approach to neurotypes is that a neurotype must be something that can be observed in a lab, scientifically classifiable, and must be genetic. Neurological conditions that were caused by accidents would not fall under the scientific definition of a neurotype. Furthermore, in this definition someone can only have one neurotype, as that would be the way in which their brain works and interacts with stimuli. If someone is autistic and dyslexic, they would be one example of a neurotype.
The social approach to neurotypes is less rigid and includes neurological conditions that are not genetic. In this definition of a neurotype, an autistic and a dyslexic brain would be two neurotypes and somone who is autistic and dyslexic could say that they had two neurotypes. This website takes the social appraoch to neurotypes
Neurodiversity, coined by Judy Singer, is the diversity of neurotypes (the different ways in which a brain works and reacts to information). A core element of neurodiversity is the celebration of the different neurotypes and the way neurodivergent people think and act.
Statistics regarding what the population is neurodivergent vary. The most largely used figure is that 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent (about 15% of the population). However, as many neurodivergent people are unaware that they are neurodivergent or otherwise unable to seek out diagnosis, the real number is thought to be much higher.
The British Dyslexia Association cites about 10% of the population in the UK are dyslexic.It is estimated that about 0.5% to 1% of the population in the UK have Tourrette’s Syndrom (TS).
While about 15% of the population is neurodivergent, there are no statistics readily available regarding the percentage of students who are neurodivergent. However, there are statistics of specific groups within the neurodivergent umbrella.
It is estimated that 2.4% of university students in the UK are autistic1, and this percentage is thought to have grown since this study was taken. Furthermore, in a study by Knott and Taylor2, they noted that students may not feel comfortable disclosing their diagnosis to the school or may be in the process of seeking out a formal diagnosis. Additionally, some students may not discover that they are that they are autistic until later. Before 2013, it was not possibleto be diagnosed with ADHD and autism at the same time, meaning that some people may be missing either an ADHD or autism diagnosis becase of this.
It is estimated that 5% of UK university students have a specific learning difficulty (SpecLD) which includes conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalcula, and dyspraxia This figure also includes ADHD, however within the ADHD community, there is push back against this and consider it a mis-classification (Sedgwick 2017 https://nadp-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/University-students-with-ADHD-Literature-Review.pdf). Like other groups, this percentage has likely grown since the time it was reported (2015).