5 Features of Remote Learning That Benefit Neurodivergent Students

4 min to read
Young studentin a white shirt reading her table along with the help of her Learning Partner at Connections Academy

When it comes to making choices in life, there is no one-size-fits-all solution; every individual has a unique set of needs and preferences. This is also true for education. Some students do well in a traditional school environment, while students who are neurodivergent may require alternative learning arrangements that will allow them to grow and truly thrive.   

“Neurodivergent” is an umbrella term used to describe a number of conditions that may include dyslexia, ADHD, autism, Tourette syndrome, and others. Students who are neurodivergent have neurological differences in how their brains function—that is, their brains function differently from students who are considered “neurotypical,” or who have standard neurological functioning. 

In a traditional school setting, neurodivergent students may encounter barriers to learning, such as bullying, pace of learning, overstimulation caused by loud noises and bright lighting. A remote learning environment can provide solutions for these stressors and learning barriers that can otherwise keep students who are neurodivergent from enjoying the learning process and meeting their full potential.   

Here are just a few features of remote learning that aid students who are neurodivergent in the learning process: 

1. Familiarity

Students often appreciate some level of change and variety when it comes to their education, and this includes students who are neurodivergent. However, in a traditional school setting, unexpected changes can occur that create stress and reduce focus for a neurodivergent student. For example, a student may be moved to another classroom for better class size distribution. Noisy construction may be taking place in or near the school building. Their favorite teacher may suddenly leave without notice and be replaced with a substitute in the middle of a semester. Students with autism and other neurodivergent conditions are typically more sensitive to these types of environmental changes. 

Remote learning provides a sense of familiarity—the learning space is customizable and remains consistent each day. Online public schools like Connections Academy® provide a consistent and predictable learning dashboard while also ensuring engaging and diverse lessons. Familiarity helps students know what to expect and how to navigate their school day, leading to a greater sense of security and self-confidence.  

Image of a Learning Partner in a yellow shirt helping her neurodivergent child work on a school project together.

2. Flexibility

In a traditional school setting, students are expected to adhere to predetermined schedules that may not suit a neurodivergent student’s unique learning pace and coaching needs. Since  neurodivergent students often have different needs than neurotypical students, the flexibility of online learning allows more time and space for these needs to be met. Distance learning for children with autism and other students who are neurodivergent can offer more opportunities to incorporate their interests into their learning schedule and curriculum.   

While some online courses or sessions may be live, most of the time spent on completion of coursework is flexible and convenient for the student and their family, allowing more opportunity for scheduling appointments, tutoring, rest, and coaching. Schedules and routines can be customized to suit not only the student’s needs, but also the needs of the parent and/or Learning Coach.  

Image of a student in a yellow shirt working in an online class on a tablet at Connections Academy

3. Personalization

Another benefit of online learning is that it allows students, Learning Coaches and teachers to customize the student’s learning experience to support their strengths. While traditional schools often provide individualized learning plans (IEPs) for students who need them, these IEPs mainly address curriculum and learning styles rather than environmental factors that may be causing even greater barriers to learning.   
Online teachers are often able to give students more individual attention and support than they’d receive in a physical classroom, so they develop personal relationships with their teachers as a result. With online learning, factors that may have once been a source of a student’s stress can potentially be altered or eliminated for them, making more room for growth and engagement. 
Whether neurodivergent or neurotypical, your child deserves every opportunity to succeed—in the classroom and in their future. At Connections Academy, our K–12 online public school expands the ways your child can learn. If you’re looking for the best online school for ADHD, autism, or other neurodivergent conditions, find your local Connections Academy-supported school to explore options.    

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