Neurodiversity 101: your journey starts here

Welcome to our neurodiversity 101 series!

Throughout this exploratory series, we’ll dive into the cutting-edge of cognitive science and share some of the fundamentals about the mind.

BUT don’t panic.

You don’t need a PhD to get to grips with these concepts.

All of us here at Cognassist have gone through similar training and development to help us understand and break down some of the complex and detailed scientific knowledge and research.

There is a lot of misunderstanding around neurodiversity, what it is and how we can embrace it to improve opportunities in education for all.

We want to help you cut through the noise and get at the key knowledge and expertise that forms the foundation of Cognassist and the work we do for education providers and learners.

Before we get into things, it helps to know a bit of history.

The history of psychology and cognitive science for busy people

Where does our current knowledge come from? Well, human beings have been preoccupied with the study of the mind since ancient Greece.

Each era of science has helped to inform the next, and as our technology gets more precise, so too does our knowledge.

Today, many neuropsychologists see ancient philosophers like Aristotle, Plato and Socrates as the OGs of psychology. These thinkers were preoccupied with explanations of human behaviour and the nature of the mind before we had any technology to unravel.

People don’t often realise it, but philosophy and psychology share the same roots in history right up to the 19th Century.

And in 1879, a German physician called Wilhelm Wundt opens up the first laboratory in the philosophy department of Leipzig University.

Wundt wanted to apply to experimental methods used in natural science (physics, chemistry and biology) to philosophical problems of the mind.

His work was influential because it showed that internal cognitive processes could actually be measured.

Jump to the 20th Century and William James, a prominent American psychologist.

He theorised that our psychological characteristics, like our physical characteristics, evolved to help us survive and fulfil a specific purpose. Just like Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace’s theory of Natural Selection, but for the mind.

And from James’ work formed our more modern studies of cognitive science, which looks at understanding specific processes in the brain, like memory, perception and language.

We could go on naming names, but you’re no doubt here for something other than a history lesson. And the questions that you really want answering come next.

How can knowledge of cognitive science help you?

Our mission at Cognassist is to raise awareness about neurodiversity and show how evidence-based support can improve learner engagement and achievement rates.

You may be curious about our data, best practices, funding your learners and improving retention. All of which we’ll talk about.

But there’s something here of greater value.

To learn something new. To understand yourself and others better. To use scientific knowledge to improve the lives of others. And hopefully, you’ll gain all three.

Cognassist works in the education sector. And we know that no one really stops learning, whether you’re a 16-year-old apprentice or a working professional with 20+ years’ experience.

Helping people to understand how their brain works can help them make better decisions, enhance their experience of learning and improve life outcomes.

That’s why we’ve created this mini-series, Neurodiversity 101. A guide to what we do and how we do it.

And your next step in the journey answers the question, “What is Neurodiversity?”