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Gifted Learners and Neurodivergency

Most of us have heard the term "gifted." Perhaps you or your own child has been classified as such. Most people assume gifted students are especially "smart" and talented in all areas, but that is not necessarily so; in fact, "gifted" and "smart" are not synonyms,, and being gifted oftentimes includes being neurodivergent. Neurodivergent individuals are students whose brains are wired differently than neurotypical ("normal") individuals. Neurodivergency is a relatively new concept that is just now being explored-- in fact, Wix's typing software does not even recognize the term as a word. These students are often described as being "twice exceptional" and also often include diagnoses including Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD which have been acknowledged for some time. Not everyone connects gifted and twice exceptional, which means sometimes neurodivergent students who might also be gifted are overlooked..

Psychology Today classifies giftedness as a form of neurodivergency, stating that "the pathways leading to it are enormously variable, and so are children's resulting learning needs." So there is some progress is recognizing the various and multiple traits gifted students may exhibit.

Just like "gifted" doesn't mean "smart", the same holds true for the term "neurodivergency." All these terms are mutually exclusive of each other, and the term "smart" is oftentimes overly simplified and doesn't encompass the vast variances of the human mind. Just because a student is gifted does not automatically mean that they do well in school, and just because a student does well in school does not mean that they are gifted. The converse is, of course, also true. Schools are traditionally based around a singular learning structure, and because everyone's brains work differently, only certain students can thrive in this environment. Restructuring schools to account for different methods of learning is essential in the improvement of our education system. The Aerospace and Innovation Academy works with twice exceptional and gifted students to help them find passions. Using an experiential learning approach, learning becomes hands-on and meets the needs of diverse student learners in their STEM educational programs.

In our podcast series "Let's Go To Space: BLUESKY Learning." we feature a range of speakers who expand on this topic. A recent example of this is in Episode 58: Engaging Florida's Gifted Learners and Educators, where we speak with Amy Trujillo. Ms. Trujillo is a professional educator and author with 20 years experience working with students from elementary school through adults. She is currently the Instructional Coach at Orlando Science Schools and also the president of the Florida Association for the Gifted. She sheds light on giftedness and addresses the realities versus the stereotypes surrounding it. Check out this episode to get more insight on this topic, and check out our other episodes to hear from more incredible speakers. As always, check out our webpage for more information on how to join Aerospace and Innovation Academy.

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