Seeking Learning Accommodations for Neurodivergent Individuals: A Comprehensive Guide

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For neurodivergent individuals, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, and others, securing appropriate learning accommodations is vital for their academic success and overall wellbeing12. As we know this diverse group processes information in unique ways, which may necessitate certain adjustments or accommodations to help them excel in a learning environment. Here, we delve deeper into the common accommodations and strategies that can support neurodivergent learners.

  • Noise Management

Noise can significantly hinder the concentration of some neurodivergent individuals. Providing noise-cancelling headphones or a quiet workspace can minimize distractions and enhance focus, thereby creating an environment conducive to learning1.

  • Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling or remote learning options can cater to different learning styles and energy patterns. This flexibility allows learners to engage with the material when they’re most alert and receptive, improving their ability to absorb and retain information1.

  • Sensory Accommodations

Sensory accommodations are often necessary, especially for those on the autism spectrum. These may include specific seating arrangements to minimize sensory overload, use of fidget tools to facilitate focus, or adjustments to the lighting to create a comfortable learning environment2. Such accommodations can significantly improve the learning experience for neurodivergent individuals.

  • Behavioral and Environmental Supports

Behavioral supports can play a crucial role in managing behavioral challenges associated with neurodivergence. Clear expectations, timely feedback, and positive reinforcement can help guide behavior in a supportive manner2. Additionally, adjusting the physical environment, such as providing a designated break area, can also support learners’ needs and contribute to a more positive learning experience.

  • Personalised Learning Strategies

Every neurodivergent individual has unique strengths and weaknesses. By tailoring teaching methods to leverage these strengths and support areas of difficulty, educators can create a more inclusive and effective learning environment3. This might involve using visual aids for those with a strong visual learning preference or incorporating movement-based activities for kinesthetic learners.

  • Professional Support

Professional support from a school counselor or therapist can provide additional assistance. These professionals can help devise personalized strategies to manage sensory overload, identify potential triggers, and create a plan to avoid them4. They can also provide emotional support and guidance, which can be particularly beneficial during challenging times.

  • Advocacy and Documentation

Advocacy is an important aspect of securing accommodations for neurodivergent students. They may need to advocate for their needs and provide documentation to prove their eligibility for disability accommodations5. Understanding their rights and responsibilities can empower them to seek the support they need and ensure they receive appropriate accommodations.

In conclusion, seeking learning accommodations for neurodivergent individuals involves understanding their unique needs and advocating for supportive measures. With the right accommodations and a supportive learning environment, neurodivergent learners can thrive academically and personally.

When accommodation needs are not met 

When children don’t get the necessary accommodations they need, it can lead to a variety of negative outcomes. These can range from academic struggles to emotional and behavioral challenges, and in some cases, even legal implications.

  • Academic Struggles

Without appropriate accommodations, children may struggle to keep up with their peers acadically67. Accommodations such as additional time on tests, quiet workspaces, or modified assignments are designed to level the playing field and allow children with disabilities to demonstrate their knowledge without being hindered by their disability. Without these accommodations, these students may not perform to the best of their abilities and their grades may suffer as a result67.

  • Emotional and Behavioral Challenges

Not receiving necessary accommodations can also lead to emotional and behavioral challenges. Children may feel frustrated, anxious, or isolated, which can impact their self-esteem and mental health89. If these feelings persist, it could lead to more serious issues such as depression or anxiety disorders89.

  • Legal Implications

In the United States, laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protect the rights of students with disabilities and require schools to provide necessary accommodations10,11. If a school fails to provide these accommodations, it could be considered a violation of these laws and potentially lead to legal consequences10,11.

In conclusion, it’s crucial that children receive the necessary accommodations they need for their specific challenges. Failing to do so can lead to academic struggles, emotional and behavioral challenges, and potential legal implications. It’s crucial for parents, educators, and other stakeholders to advocate for these children and ensure they receive the support they need to succeed.


  1. Mentra 
  2. Speechify 
  3. NCBI
  4. Neurodivergent Insights
  5. Ask Earn
  6. Understood 
  7. IRIS Center 
  8. NAMI 
  9. NCBI 
  10. US Department of Education 
  11. US Department of Education 

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About the author: Yasmin Shaheen-Zaffar

With a passion for improving the emotional wellbeing of young people, adults and parents, she is  the founder and creator of Polyvagal Teen®, she has developed an innovative approach to helping teens recognise and manage stress and anxiety through becoming “Polyvagal Aware”. In addition, Yasmin is also the founder of World Let’s Stop Shouting Day, which aims to promote peaceful communication and reduce conflict and aggression in our daily interactions. Neurosloth™ and The Hearts Whisper®

She also runs a small private practice providing counselling and neurofeedback  to young people and adults in North Yorkshire.

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