An Intersectional Approach to Supporting Neurodiverse Learners Online

Last updated September 22, 2020

Course Length

2h 18m

Last Updated

September 22, 2020

An Intersectional Approach to Supporting Neurodiverse Learners Online

Last updated September 22, 2020

Learn how you can approach neurodiversity from an intersectional lens to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in your online classroom.


Neurodiverse students are often disadvantaged in the classroom by deficit thinking, a learned mindset that defines learners by their perceived problems and can limit the success of disabled students. For learners who have other marginalized aspects of their identities, disadvantages in the classroom are compounded, and the implicit biases we hold can unintentionally disempower them and curb their academic progress. Without special care and preparation, these hindrances are further exacerbated in an online learning environment. By approaching neurodiversity from an intersectional lens and implementing strength-based practices, we can begin to promote equity, inclusion, and diversity in the classroom.

Join us online and hear from Dr. Gloria Niles, Director of Distance Education at the University of Hawai’i West O’ahu. With a background in neurology and special education, she will provide practices that will help you:

  • Unpack deficit thinking and the pathology paradigm of disability
  • Consider the intersections of identity that appear in your classroom, including your own
  • Understand and shift to a neurodiversity paradigm
  • Take a strength-based, talent-focused approach to cognitive differences
  • Create a more empowering and effective online learning environment for all students

Who should attend?

This training will primarily benefit faculty and instructors committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom. Those who are looking to expand teaching practices to better serve neurodiverse students and students with marginalized aspects of their identities will also find this training valuable.


December 3, 2020

1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern

Approaches and Definitions

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Eastern
Dr. Gloria Niles will provide foundational definitions and introduce the approaches we will apply throughout the training. She will:

  • Define intersectionality, what it means in context, and how aspects of our identities can change
  • Guide the group through an activity where you will define your own social wheel and the intersections
  • Unpack deficit thinking and provide an overview of three models of disability: medical, social, and cultural
  • Define the neurodiversity paradigm and detail how you can apply it in your classroom


Learner Case Studies

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern
You will follow neurodiverse students through their unique academic journeys to understand how mindsets and practices have created obstacles through various stages of their education. After hearing about their learning experiences, you will learn how you can support them in higher ed classrooms.


Practice and Action in the Classroom

3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern
In this practical and interactive session, you will learn strength-based and talent-focused strategies and break into small groups to reflect on current classroom practices and environments. You will leave with an action plan to better support neurodiverse students.