Mentoring And Learning Differences
Ava Echard in youthmentoring
19th March 2024 -  3 mins read
Photo by <a href="" target="_blank">Brooke Cagle</a> on <a href="" target="_blank">Unsplash</a>

    Learning differences- a term which specifically encompasses more formal diagnosis such as ADHD and dyslexia, but can also refer to the vast umbrella of types of executive function that impact learning processes- can develop challenges in the education journey of students. Those with learning differences that are less compatible with a more traditional style of academic learning can hold a more negative self-perception, leading to depression and anxiety, as they struggle to understand why they may progress further behind their peers. Often, education structures and systems that benefit students without learning differences can leave their peers with learning differences behind. A mentoring program can be an important intervention in the lives of those with learning differences, and can help to create relational resources that can ease some of the challenges that may come with having a learning difference. In this blog, we will outline some of the possibilities that are created when applying mentoring programmes to helping those with learning differences. 

  1. Coping Strategies and Planning 

       Mentoring for those with learning differences can take the form of a “peer to peer” mentoring relationship (see our articles on peer-to-peer mentoring ((LINK)) or can take the form of a more conventional mentoring approach with a senior advisor or faculty member. However, in both cases, there is the potential for those with learning differences to seek out mentoring from those who have experienced similar challenges. By developing a mentoring relationship with someone with similar experiences, mentees can develop new approaches or strategies that they may not have thought of before by discussing their challenges with their mentor. Likewise, mentoring can help mitigate the sense of isolation they might experience through coping with their learning differences in a more traditional environment. 

  1. Building Career Prospects 

       Just like the educational system is not always built for those with learning differences, those with learning differences may feel behind their peers when chasing career opportunities that depend on educational advancement in a more traditional environment. Mentoring allows those with learning differences to build a network on their own terms and in an environment where they can be up front and openly communicate about their learning difference. Likewise, after university, adults with learning differences may approach challenges in the workplace that they have trouble communicating with their supervisors, such as issues with concentration for adults with ADHD. Having a mentor allows those with learning differences to create strategies for thriving in the workplace 

  1. Sticking to Goals and Staying on Track 

     In all goals, having someone to hold you accountable can go a long way in making sure that you stay on track. For those with learning differences, creating a goal with a mentor can develop educational success and improve their mental health outcomes. While informal mentorship can help, a more formal mentorship program, such as those administered by SUMAC, can empower those with learning differences to stick to their goals in order to see (and celebrate) change over time. 

      A place of education benefits from a range of students with different learning styles. However, for those whose learning style may not align with the structures and methods employed by the university, a mentoring program may allow them to thrive and reach their full potential in their educational journey. For more information on learning differences and mentoring, read here: