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Our Vision for a Neuroinclusive School

Updated: Mar 24

​CAYR Connections was founded on the belief that neurodivergent and disabled people deserve to live authentic, fulfilling lives with autonomy and self-determination.


Creating an inclusive school has always been an integral part of our vision:

“We envision a world where inclusivity and accessibility are the norm, not the exception. Our dream is to open a neuro-affirming, trauma-informed school where children of all neurotypes can learn from each other.”


As parents, educators, therapists, and other professionals, we noticed that we did not have many neurodiversity-affirming providers or schools to recommend in our communities. So here we are, working hard to shift the narrative from traditional, compliance-based approaches to trauma-informed, neurodiversity-affirming practices. Through family events, caregiver groups, provider groups, book clubs, and more, we aim to educate community members as well as create new opportunities for kids, teens, and adults to connect with neuro-affirming resources.


Most importantly, we are planning to open a truly inclusive school in the Chicago area. In this post, we will share our vision for our inclusive school, why it’s needed, and what it will look like. We believe that the need is urgent for a school where all children can be included, whether they are neurodivergent or not. 


No matter how great the reputation of a school system and the availability of supports, many children struggle within these systems, especially neurodivergent children who have difficulty following the expectations of conventional education. Some common experiences that we hear about are:

  • difficulty conforming to neurotypical expectations for listening and attending to the teacher (e.g., eye contact, sitting in chair, not fidgeting, etc.)

  • rewards systems that might work for most kids, but in other kids create shame and anxiety

  • behavioral approaches that target the surface behavior but do not address underlying needs (sensory, communication, physiological, etc.)

  • students experiencing depression, anxiety, burnout, and school refusal 

For these reasons and more, school becomes inaccessible. 


And education is a human right. 



In comes CAYR’s vision for an inclusive school! At present, we are planning to create an elementary school with multi-age classrooms as a private school model with a sliding scale for tuition fees. Here are some highlights:


  • Trauma-informed care and neurodiversity-affirming practices guide us. See our blog post here to learn more! We will center intersectionality, respecting autonomy, validating differences, and presuming competence.


  • Our curriculum is informed by anti-racist and anti-ableist pedagogy, and focused on culturally responsive teaching. We'll use active, cooperative, and problem-based learning approaches to present topics in engaging, meaningful ways.


  • The CAYR school is for students with and without diagnoses– because all kids need support in some ways. Through Universal Design for Learning, accommodations will be available proactively, regardless of medical or developmental status, instead of waiting for a child to struggle and "prove" that they need support. Inclusion helps everyone! 


  • Instead of changing the child to fit into the environment, we will adjust the environment to support the child. 

  • We will support learners in achieving grade-level curricular standards, but instruction will be flexible and individualized, while centering students' interests and abilities, much like emergent curriculum in early childhood education. There will be structure, but in a way that is responsive and meets the needs of students and families. You can see more about emergent curriculum on our video below




And this is just the tip of the iceberg of our plans. We envision a school where students can Come As You Are. Our plans and curriculum are being created by a neurodiverse team comprised of Speech-Language Pathologists, teachers with Masters degrees in education and curriculum, parents, and other professionals. 


Interested in getting involved? Reach out, we'd love to get your input!



We need your help to help make this dream a reality! 

Here's how:

–You can connect us with professionals in fundraising and school planning. Send us an email at info@cayrconnections.org ! 

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I have no idea how to help with the school, but would love to sign my child up! Sounds amazing!

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We will be having in-person and virtual parent input meetings this spring/summer so make sure to joint our email list if you haven’t already, and you’ll get the updates and rsvp links in your inbox! :)

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