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Aurélie Vache
Aurélie Vache

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Learning methods/ways for neuro atypical people

We are all different.
We know that. It's a fact.
And we are all agree with that.
But, we all learn in the same way...
Is this really working? Are there others way to explain and learn things?

We will see in this article what is neurodiversity, another way of explaining things and why we need to adapt our methods of learning.

First thing, what is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity means "the differences in the way our brains function, process and handle informations".

Ok... The definition is pretty clear.

In the world, the majority of people are "neurotypical". That means their brains/cortex interpret the things happening every day as the society might expect, as a "normal way".
In a concrete way, they experience the "typical developmental, intellectual and cognitive abilities expected for a person of their age".

Second things, what are and who are neurodiversity/neuro atypical people?

We can do a list of technical terms:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dys...
  • Autism Spectrum
  • ...

The list is not exhaustive of course 😉

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According to statistics/metrics, this would affect nearly 15% of the world's population but these are the people diagnosed ...
Speaking around me I noticed that there would be many more who wonder if they would not suffer from disorders linked to neuro diversity?

So what about not diagnosed people?

Different people but same way to learn things

I've watched recently the "Douglas" one woman show by Hannah Gadsby, she talk about autism, the form she has, telling about things that happened to her at school, with humor.

I was watching the show and I realized that there are a lot of people called neuro atypical. And a lot of person not diagnosed or who were diagnosed late.

But we all have to learn the same way with the same method, and that's the reason of this article.

At school we have to follow the same courses and we all have to learn in the same way.

If we are all different, maybe we need to find/create another ways of learning:

  • more visual (with illustrations/icons instead of words)
  • with more concrete explainations (not only theoretical)
  • with more practice
  • ...

At school we are asked to learn by heart, but is it really working for all people? The things/concepts/irregular verbs we learnt by heart, do you really understood them?

While, every person in this world is different.

We need to think about Neurodiversity in Education.

A new way/another way of learning?

And if we talk about programming/computer science, it's the same things: all technical books are done in the same way. They explain concepts in the same way, but with differents words or in different orders.

If I started to imagine how to represent abstract and technical concepts it's because I wondered how I represented them to myself.

If we read again the list of neuro atypical people, I do not find myself, but it turns out that I think I have trouble representing things to myself if they are not linked to something concrete in my head.
I need to draw diagrams/schemas, to represent things visually/in a visual way, to translate what has just been said to me with my words, and my way of thinking to know if I really understood.

I am not autistic, ADHD ... (to my knowledge) but, I stutter ("stammer" for british people), since I was small (yes I know people don't know that fact when they read my articles or tweets :-D). After reflection, I think that this can be part of the Neuro diversity family, in short, we are going a bit out of our main subject, but I think I will dig into this topic later, because it interests me :-).

Understanding xxx in a visual way!

I have always drawn and made diagrams.
And everything has started from there.

Recently, I started to put in the form of sketchnotes how I represented the concepts of Kubernetes & Istio and in the end I released two collections of sketchnotes / two books:

Books are accessible from 1€, to allow people who don't have much means to be able to access them and others to contribute as much as they want and sketchnotes are accessible in this platform.

From my point of view, I "just drew two pokeballs" in order to represent 'pods' (an abstract concept of a Cloud technology: Kubernetes) but I noticed, sketchnote after sketchnote, a little infatuation from the people ♥.
I even received testimonials from several people, and I thank you!

Recently I received a tweet, from a person bought my "book" about Kubernetes, who said:
"These drawings are the perfect fit for my brain"

"Fit for my brain", since I've read this tweet, these words echo in my head.

And yes, if we think about it, all books are the same, they all explain the same way. At school all kids need to follow the same courses. Looking for a technical concept and finding the same explanation 14,000 times that you don't understand can be demoralizing :-(.

And now?

I am currently working on "Understanding Docker in a visual way", as usual I will publish the sketchnotes on the go on 😊 then if the content is interesting ... Maybe it will become a book, we will see.

I've noticed a resurgence lately of sketchnotes, comics/BD style, different ways of explaining technical concepts, it's awesome and every contributions are important and complementary!

And I tell myself that this is just the beginning and it's just a tiny grain of sand, but every grain of sand is important :-).

We talked about neurodiversity. But what about me? Am I "neuro atypical"?

If I write today on this subject it's because this topic is close to my heart. But why?

Lately I asked to myself a lot of questions and I wonder if I am part of this neuro diversity?

  • I'm very empathetic.
  • I'm very sensitive.
  • And yes, people who knows me knows that fact: I'm stuttering ("stammering" for british native people) since I was a child ^^.
  • It's not easy for me to imagine abstract things, I need to think about concrete :-)

  • And I think you start to know me (articles after articles, sketchnotes after sketchnotes...): I usually explain things with the minimum of words I can ^^. I have the habit of going to the essential. Is it a skill I have or a difference?

So maybe all of theses things made me a "not typical person", or maybe, simply, all people in this world are not typical ;-) .

The thing I know is we are all different and we need to have many ways to learn things.


I hope I haven't lost you too much on the way with this article. I saw this little article as a beginning of a discussion.

And I would like to have your opinion.
What do you think?
Is it important or useful to imagine another ways of explaining and learning things?
Do we need to take into account neurodiversity in education.
Do you know sketchnoting? Do you know "not typical way of learning"?

Thank you.

Top comments (1)

dana94 profile image
Dana Ottaviani

I think creating images and diagrams is a great way to explain technical concepts. 🎨

Coming from a front-end background, it's easy to see what my code does on a site or app I'm working on. But trying to wrap my head around something like Kubernetes is difficult if there's just a lot of documentation for me to read.