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The neurodiversity challenge

| Monday, April 8, 2019

Some of the stats about those admitted to Notre Dame’s Class of 2023 are quite impressive. But there’s a glaring omission. Nowhere among the mentions of diversity is there a reference to neurodiversity, a term that recognizes the value of people whose brains work a little differently. Neurodiversity includes people on the Autism spectrum, those with dyslexia or ADHD and others. Quite often neurodivergent individuals are incredibly bright, but their GPAs or standardized test scores might be a bit off a school’s average. Does that automatically make them less qualified or mean they “don’t have the motivation to become better?” Quite the opposite.
As a dad of two neurodivergent sons in college, I recently launched “The Neurodiversity Challenge.” Through the “Challenge,” I communicate with and challenge institutions of higher education and corporations to do a better job in three areas. 1) Understand more fully the value of neurodiversity; 2) Actively recruit, admit and hire neurodivergent individuals; and 3) Celebrate neurodiversity by publicly highlighting how these individuals contribute uniquely to the overall diversity of a school or business.
Society is on the verge of a zeitgeist when it comes to neurodiversity, and schools like Notre Dame have a great opportunity. Like the the so-called new elite students referenced in the story who are asking “their own questions,” I’ll ask one of my own: Who’s going to have the vision and leadership to do more with the tenets of “The Neurodiversity Challenge?”
Rob Hahn
class of 1991
April 4

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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