1 in 3 students say they are neurodivergent: What does this mean for those working in the educational sector?

The Investor in Students programme spans 12 months and aims to assess the student experience throughout the academic cycle, offering ongoing opportunities for growth and enhancement.

The results of a survey conducted by Investor in Students show that 1 in 3 students say they are neurodivergent. This immediately sparks the question of, what this means for those working with students.

Understanding the implications of neurodivergence in the educational sector is crucial for fostering inclusive environments where every student can thrive.

In this blog, we are going to explain the significance of neurodiversity awareness and what measures you can take to better accommodate students to support their success inside and outside of the classroom. 

Blocks reading neuro diversity

What is Neurodivergence?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, neurodivergence can be defined as differences in the brain that affect how one’s brain functions. These differences can be anything from learning disabilities to mental disorders, among many other conditions. 

Not all brain differences have to challenge the way in which individuals function within society, although some of them do.

Girl thinking

Common Types of Neurodiversity 

According to Cambridge University Hospitals, 1 in 7 people in the UK have some kind of neuro difference. Although we won’t be able to discuss all of them here, we are going to discuss the common forms of neurodivergence that is found within students. 


ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, encompasses symptoms of hyperactivity and difficulty in maintaining focus. Symptoms are categorised based on their impact on distractibility/inattention and impulsivity/hyperactivity.

Individuals with Inattentive/Distractable ADHD struggle with concentration, attention to detail, listening, organisation, and time management. Meanwhile, those with Impulsive/Hyperactive ADHD may have difficulty remaining quiet, and staying seated, and may exhibit restlessness and fidgeting.

Students with ADHD may struggle with tasks such as retaining oral instructions, note-taking, and organising their thoughts. 

Visit the VeryHealth website to learn more about the symptoms of ADHD.

Blocks that read ADHD on top of a face cut out


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition affecting communication, social interaction, learning, and behaviour.

Individuals with autism typically struggle with social interaction and communication, exhibit restricted interests, and repetitive behaviours, and may show deficits in nonverbal communication, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Students with ASD may experience challenges in interpreting social cues (referred to as social blindness), prefer structured routines, struggle with self-regulation, and encounter other difficulties.

Blocks that read Autism Spectrum Disorder


Dyslexia is a frequently overlooked hidden disability that impacts an individual’s reading, writing, and spelling abilities.

Individuals with dyslexia often read slowly, struggle to process and comprehend words, experience challenges with spelling and writing, and encounter difficulties in storing word meanings in their memory.

While dyslexia typically does not hinder comprehension of complex concepts, it presents challenges in academic pursuits such as note-taking, textbook reading, assignment writing, and other study methods.

For further understanding of dyslexia and access to resources for students and employers, the British Dyslexia Association website offers valuable information and guidance.

Blocks that read Dyslexia


Dyspraxia, commonly referred to as developmental coordinational disorder is one that affects coordination and movement.

It affects an individual’s ability to perform skills that require coordination and also fine motor skills. This includes tasks like driving, playing sports and even writing.

Additionally, they may experience problems with memory, concentration, and processing information efficiently. These challenges can affect academic performance, social interactions, and self-esteem of the individuals as well.

Blocks that read Dyspraxia

How can you accommodate the students better?

Based on the recommendations suggested by the National Autistic Society, here are some ways through which people working in the educational sector can help students who are neurodivergent.

Providing Flexible Teaching Methods

Making sure that the teaching methods used are flexible can accommodate students who are neurodivergent and help them excel in their academics,

Everyone learns differently, and this also means that students with ADHD or other forms of neurodiversity might not be able to grasp information as well in a typical classroom setting

To help students understand the material better, professors and lecturers can opt to provide alternatives like recorded lectures or PDFs that students can refer to. 

This can be done ahead of class so that students can be prepared. 

Flexibility can also be offered by including different activities in class like discussions and case studies amongst others which can help engage the class better. 

Professor teaching a class

Offer Clear Instructions

In addition to offering flexibility in the methods of teaching, it is also recommended to ensure that all instructions provided for assessments are clear and concise. 

Even if certain aspects of the assignment seem obvious to you, that might not always be the case for everyone. 

So it is always good to make the guide/instructions for the work as detailed as possible, as it can significantly help neurodivergent students navigate their academic work a lot better!

Professor teaching a class

Having A Clutter-Free Environment

A cluttered space can make neurodivergent students feel overwhelmed and make it hard to concentrate in class. 

In addition to that, neurodivergent students might also be sensitive to visual stimuli resulting in sensory overload, which will only stress out the students more. 

This is why having a clean and neat environment is very important while accommodating neurodivergent students.

Empty and clean classroom

Accepting Differences

Another great way to make sure that the classroom is inclusive of everyone’s needs is by accepting that everyone has different ways of doing things. 

Whether this be assignments or classroom participation, creating an environment that welcomes students’ ideas can help neurodivergent students feel more safe and welcomed. 

A professor smiling at the class

Be Understanding

Regardless of how much research one does, it is not easy to understand the struggles neurodivergent students face regularly. 

This is why it is important to have an open mind. Be willing to listen to them and be ready to offer any help that you can to make their educational journey just a little bit easier.

A man explaining carefully

In conclusion, the acknowledgement of neurodiversity among students is a pivotal step towards creating an inclusive educational environment. By understanding and accommodating the diverse needs of neurodivergent students, educators can foster a supportive learning environment where every student can thrive.

Embracing neurodiversity not only benefits individual students but also enriches the entire educational community, leading to greater academic success, well-being, and inclusivity for all.

If you are looking for student accommodation for the next year, visit our Homes for Students website and browse through a range of properties that cater to every need. 

Table of Contents