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Neurodiversity is a term that refers to the range of neurological differences that occur in the brain as a result of natural variations in the human genome; these neurological differences include attention deficit hyperactive disorder, autism, learning disabilities and dyslexia. Neurodiversity overthrows ableist beliefs and practices that may marginalize students with learning disabilities in the classroom and school community, and embraces the strengths and abilities of individuals with neurological differences, while acknowledging the inherent and associated challenges.

The Ministry of Education’s Policy/Program Memorandum No. 8 [PPM 8] recognizes that students with learning disabilities have average or above-average intellectual ability but difficulties with receiving or expressing their knowledge and understanding (PPM, p 1-2). Both PPM 8 (p 2-3) and best practices in neurodiversity call on practitioners and educators to move beyond assumptions about a person’s perceived deficits and instead focus on the social and ecological dimensions of disability and personhood. As such, neurodiversity practices can be applied in alignment with PPM 8 to be “personalized, precise, explicit, and intensive,” (p 4) so that educators may support, empower, and encourage young people with learning disabilities to enhance their academic, social, and relational skills.

This webinar focused on how neurodiverse practices can create inclusive classrooms for students with learning disabilities.

About the Speakers

Yvonne's pictureYvonne Bristow, CYCP, M.P.Ed.

Child and Youth Worker, Sir John A. Macdonald CI, Toronto District School Board

Yvonne Bristow has worked as a Child and Youth Care Practitioner for seven years in Toronto and currently works in an Autism Program within the Toronto District School Board. She completed her CYW Diploma, B.A. CYC, and M.P.Ed in Equity, Diversity and Social Justice Studies. She has had six articles published for CYC-Online on topics including Autism, human diversity and relational practice. She is presenting on Neurodiversity and Relational Child and Youth Care Practice at the 2017 Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care Provincial Conference.


Chris Sands, OCT

Assistant Curriculum Leader, Special Education, Sir John A. Macdonald CI, Toronto District School Board

Chris Sands is a teacher and the Assistant Curriculum Leader of Special Education at a high school in the Toronto District School Board. He is the current Vice-President of the Ontario chapter of the Council for Children with Behavioural Disorders. Chris has taught in Nunavut and in priority neighbourhoods and intensive support programs across Toronto, including students who live with dual developmental and psychiatric diagnoses, learning and mild intellectual disabilities, autism, and students in custody and detention. Chris’ passion for supporting marginalized young people has led him to volunteer or work for organizations like Pathways to Education, Holland Bloorview Kids’ Rehabilitation Hospital, and as a respite worker for two children with complex disabilities.