September 16, 2019
By Ari Kalinowski
Many non-typical students have unique strengths that are ideally suited for the burgeoning technology job market. Consider the following examples.
Kids with ADHD tend to think outside the box, often making connections that others miss. They also have the ability to hyper-focus on areas of interest. For example, one of the student’s I work with built a website that contained all her photographs, videos, stories, and games. She was exceptional at researching photos, animations, and code from around the internet and adapting them to her site. She’s on track for a career as a digital designer.
NLD students often exhibit meticulous attention to detail and tend to delve deeply into subjects in which they’re interested. My NLD student Alex was able to build a robot that could walk up stairs when no one else in his class was able to achieve that feat. He succeeded because he went over the problem repeatedly, testing many more solutions than his classmates. He’s on a path to work in robotics.
LD students may struggle with reading and writing, but they can still do well with coding. Effective training need not be heavily reading-based and the writing demands can be minimal. My student Trevor refused to read or write classroom assignments, but he was able to study other students’ code and organize those students into groups, in order to build a virtual model. I can see him becoming a technical project manager.
Jobs of the future call for specialization. They call for identifying strengths early and building them out. Many students are already interested in digital technology, but they don’t have formal training. Many programs in creative coding and computer science don’t take into account these students’ unique learning styles, but they should. ADHD, NLD and LD students have aptitudes which can lead to impressive work, and great future opportunities.
Ari Kalinowski is the Director of the tutoring and mentoring company Unconventional Minds. He works with students with ADHD, AS, NLD and processing disorders not otherwise specified.