AI in Education: Pros & Cons for Neurodiverse Students

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Today’s schools are unrecognizable places for those born before the turn of the century. Exercise books have been replaced with iPads, and, thanks to Jamie Oliver, canteens have traded in Turkey Twizzlers for more nutritious options.

Some things, however, don’t change. Organization, task initiation, working memory, and social interaction are among the skills that will always help a student thrive. But what if you struggle in these areas? What if your brain functions differently from your neurotypical peers?

It has been estimated that 15-20% of the world’s population is neurodiverse. This is a significant demographic who experience conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, dyslexia, and dyspraxia, to name a few.

There are multiple stories about how AI has transformed the work life of neurodiverse people. However, it is not just career professionals who are benefiting. AI has also begun reforming the education system.

So, will AI help neurodiverse students and foster inclusivity? Let’s explore the pros and cons of AI in education to see if it can make a difference.

Key Takeaways

  • An estimated 15-20% of the world’s population is neurodiverse.
  • AI can provide personalized learning for neurodiverse students.
  • AI assists neurodiverse students with organization, social interaction, reading, and writing, fostering inclusion in education.
  • Accessibility, over-reliance, and the impact on teachers’ roles and professional standing are some concerns surrounding the use of AI in education.

Achieving Inclusion by Using AI in Education

Our understanding of neurological development is better than it ever has been. Stigma has reduced, and we have moved away from language that associates neurodiversity with “deficits, disorders or impairments.”


However, many neurodiverse children and young people, especially those with autism, are still not having their needs met in school, leading to rising levels of absenteeism and mental health issues.

Students, teachers, and psychologists agree that change is needed, and AI is already contributing to reform.

Matt Ivey, founder of Dyslexic.AI, who experiences dyslexia, ADHD, and autism, has discussed his views on AI-assisted learning in a recent newsletter: “As a lifelong learner, AI tools have been instrumental in my education, even as an adult,” he writes.

For Ivey, “it’s clear that traditional educational models often fail to accommodate diverse learning styles,” but AI will enable “us to move beyond traditional methods and tailor educational experiences to individual needs.”

Lee Calderbank, a special education teacher at the Wherry School Trust (UK), said he “uses AI to make bespoke and individual resources, questions and tasks for students.”

Soon, Calderbank predicts:

“AI will be good enough to give teachers slides/presentations, tasks, resources, handouts, links to videos, and pictures all within minutes, all bespoke to each of their students’ needs and likes and current progress levels.”

Imagine that your special interest is Ironman, and at the touch of a button, every curriculum resource is themed around this character. Wouldn’t this increase your motivation to learn? Wouldn’t this have a sizable impact on your ability to maintain attention and complete tasks? These aspects of executive function are barriers to inclusion for many neurodiverse students.

George Eckton, Director of Advice Services at Citizens Advice Scotland, and Angela Prentner-Smith, Managing Director of This is Milk, also champion the potential for individualized learning. They highlight other AI in education examples as well, like how the technology “can offer stepping stones to equity, [by] assisting with navigation, drafting, memory aids, and more.”

How Is AI Helping Neurodiverse University Students?

After arriving at university, students quickly realize they have far more autonomy over their education. While this can be daunting, especially if you have special educational needs, it also allows you to explore personal learning styles.

David Wiley, a Norwich-based Architectural Assistant at NPS Group, says that AI assists him with his dyslexia. In particular, Wiley uses ChatGPT “to give a synopsis of large pieces of text.” Because he struggles with reading, this function helps him decide “whether it’s worth engaging with the whole text.” The chatbot also helps him structure his writing.

In a similar vein, Molly Zatony, the Accessibility Manager at Goodwin University, states that applications like Dragon are supporting neurodiverse students with “reading and writing through speech-to-text and text-to-speech tools.”

She also encourages students to use the AI-powered mindmap app, GitMind, which can help “make lists and prioritize tasks,” as well as “structure rambling thoughts into a flow chart to help students organize their thinking.”

Other platforms like Neve Learning go a step further and deliver unique experiences for every individual, but the inclusivity offered by AI transcends facilitating personalized learning.

For example, the University of Bridgeport asserts that neurodivergent students who have “speech and communication difficulties can utilize AI tools to more effectively express themselves and participate in classroom discussions when they wouldn’t have been able to in the past.”

What Are the Cons of AI in Education?

Whether it’s facilitating communication, explaining complex ideas, or delivering personalized learning that removes barriers to inclusion, AI is helping neurodiverse students navigate the complexities of education. However, some potential pitfalls and concerns need to be addressed.

Given AI’s increasing popularity, it is not surprising that gatekeeping is beginning to impact accessibility.

Dr. Emma Speed, a UK-based Senior Educational Psychologist, highlights this as a possible issue:

“Pitfalls regarding the use of AI in schools may relate to potential costing issues around equality of accessibility, which can already vary significantly between school settings.”

Most schools would benefit from the additional support that AI provides but may not have sufficient funding to purchase the resources. According to Dr. Speed, this means that “the potential positive impact of AI on inclusion may be limited in terms of its equity.”

The issue of money manages to impinge upon multiple areas. Calderbank highlighted the worry that as AI evolves, “teachers will lose [their] professional standing.” He said:

“You will not need to pay a teacher with a degree and post-grad teaching certificate £45,000 a year when the AI will do half the work for you. All you need is a presenter, a facilitator to provide and maintain order…Would that work amount to £45,000? I am not so sure.”

Therefore, it seems plausible that one day, technology will become so advanced that students could just stay home and watch AI deliver completely bespoke National Curriculum content.

Teachers and students must continue asking how AI can be used in education. And as new developments are integrated, it will remain vital to ensure that AI continues facilitating the learning process and removing barriers to inclusion.

The Bottom Line

Once, it was assumed that an individualized curriculum required access to full-time 1-1 adult support and hundreds of additional hours of preparation, but generative AI in education is changing this narrative.

As Eckton and Prentner-Smith have relayed, the “solutions are not just hypothetical; they already exist and are within reach.”

While there are some concerns, the call for developers to advance the field of EdTech will likely remain strong. The die has been cast. AI for education leads to greater inclusion, and that’s good news for the neurodiverse population.


How is AI being used in education?

How does AI support neurodiverse students?

Can AI help with autism?


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John Raspin
Technology Journalist
John Raspin
Technology Journalist

John Raspin spent eight years in academia before joining Techopedia as a technology journalist in 2024. He holds a degree in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature. His interests lie in AI and he writes fun and authoritative articles on the latest trends and technological advancements. When he's not thinking about LLMs, he enjoys running, reading and writing songs.