Neurodiversity and Trauma

We likely all have a certain type of neurodiverse learner in our classrooms — the student with a history of childhood trauma. Whereas definitions of trauma vary and our understanding of the effects of trauma are constantly being updated, one thing is clear: Complex trauma physically changes the brain.

Although trauma manifests in many ways, one hallmark effect is the development of an overactive stress-response system. This can lead to hypervigilance, attentional difficulties, distrust of teachers as authority figures, loss of self-efficacy, and a host of other issues that interfere with learning.

The infographic below outlines some practices college instructors can employ to more effectively teach students who have experienced trauma. The good news is these are not instructional “add-ons,” but rather universal best teaching practices that benefit all learners.

View Trauma-Sensitive Teaching Practices for Higher Education on Canva

Do you have a trauma-informed teaching strategy that works well for you? Add it to the comments!


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