Neurodiversity Strengths Checklists

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Provides a 165-item checklist to describe strengths in students with special needs. This checklist can also be used with typically developing students. There are two checklists: one for elementary and secondary students, and one for early childhood education. The checklist is taken from my book Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life, published by ASCD. For information on ordering this book, or for more information about ASCD, visit www.ascd.org. For more information about this book and other books I've written, go to my website, www.institute4learning.com (the website of the American Institute for Learning and Human Development). I'm am available for workshops and other presentations on helping educators reframe students with special needs as ''neurodiverse'' rather than ''disabled,'' and utilize strategies, tools, and resources to help students with special needs flourish.

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Neurodiversity Strengths Checklists

  1. 1. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. www.institute4learning.comthomas@institite4learning.com
  2. 2. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist – Elementary - Secondary Personal Strengths Communication Strengths ___ Enjoys working independently ___ Explains ideas or concepts well to others ___ Has a good sense of his/her personal strengths and ___ Asks good questions weaknesses ___ Is a good storyteller ___ Learns from past mistakes ___ Is a good joke teller ___ Has persistence in carrying out assignments or activities ___ Has good listening skills ___ Is courageous in dealing with adversity and/or the ___ Handles verbal feedback (especially negative feedback) unknown well ___ Keeps a personal diary or journal ___ Has good articulation ability ___ Has a good sense of humor ___ Is able to effectively use non-verbal cues to communicate ___ Possesses a sense of responsibility with others ___ Has strong opinions about controversial topics ___ Is persuasive in getting someone to do something ___ Marches to the beat of a different drummer ___ Has good assertive skills without being pushy ___ Handles stressful events well (e.g. is resilient) ___ Has good character (e.g. honesty, integrity, fairness) Emotional Strengths ___ Has the ability to set realistic goals for him/herself ___ Has a sense of confidence or high self-esteem ____ Is emotionally sensitive to perceiving the world around ___ Has good self-discipline him/her ___ Has personal ambitions in life ____ Has an optimistic attitude toward life ___ Displays good common sense ____ Can tell how he/she is feeling at any given moment ___ Possesses personal vitality, vigor, or energy ____ Can easily pick up on the emotional state of another person ____ Is able to handle strong internal feelings in a constructive manner ____ Receives gut feelings about things From: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  3. 3. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist – Elementary - SecondarySocial Strengths Cognitive Strengths___ Has leadership ability___ Has a good sense of empathy for others ___ Has good organizational skills___ Enjoys socializing with others ___ Has good study skills___ Is good at helping others ___ Is able to use cognitive strategies (e.g. self-talk) in___ Is kind or affectionate towards others solving problems___ Has at least one good friend ___ Is able to pay close attention to details___ Prefers working with others ___ Has a good short-term and/or long-term___ Likes to play board games and/or card games with others memory___ Has skill in refereeing disputes conflicts between ___ Is able to think ahead classmates ___ Is able to become totally absorbed in an activity___ Is polite and has good manners ___ Can easily divide his attention between two or more___ Is able to work out his/her own conflicts with others activities___ Works well in groups___ Volunteers his/her time in some worthy cause Cultural Strengths___ Belongs to at least one club or social group (e.g. Scouts.)___ Has a good relationship with at least one family member ___ Has traveled to other countries___ Is friendly to others ___ Speaks more than one language___ Is good at sharing with others ___ Is tolerant of others who have cultural, ethnic, or racial___ Follows class rules differences___ Has a good relationship with at least one teacher in the ___ Has pride in his/her own cultural, ethnic, or racial school background___ Has good personal hygiene ___ Likes to find out about historical events around the world___ Trusts others without being taken in ___ Enjoys learning about different cultural traditions___ Is liked by his peers From: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  4. 4. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist – Elementary - SecondaryLiteracy Strengths Visual-Spatial Strengths___ Enjoys reading books ___ Has an aptitude for fixing machines___ Has good reading comprehension ___ Likes to create three-dimensional structures with building___ Enjoys doing word puzzles or playing word games materials___ Is a good writer in one or more genres (e.g. poetry, ___ Is good at doing jigsaw puzzles or other visual puzzles stories, reports, letters) ___ Is able to read maps well___ Is a good speller ___ Reports being able to visualize images clearly___ Has a large vocabulary ___ Gets information more easily through pictures than words___ Enjoys listening to audio books or to someone telling a ___ Is sensitive to the visual world around him/her story or reading out loud Physical StrengthsLogical Strengths ___ Has a good sense of balance___ Does well in science class ___ Learns material best when moving around___ Can estimate things easily ___ Likes to ride his/her bike, skateboard, and/or other self-powered___ Enjoys working with numbers and/or statistics personal vehicle___ Is good at solving math problems ___ Is good at playing team sports like baseball, soccer, basketball, or___ Has a chemistry set or other science kit that he/she works with football at home ___ Is good at playing individual sports like tennis, swimming,___ Has an interest in astronomy, chemistry, physics, or biology gymnastics, or golf___ Enjoys logical or number games or puzzles like Rubik’s cube ___ Is in good physical health or Sudoku ___ Likes to dance___ Can easily calculate numbers in his/her head ___ Is physically strong ___ Is a fast runner or has other athletic abilities ___ Likes to exercise (e.g. weights, aerobics, jogging, treadmill) ___ Has good physical endurance ___ Has good physical flexibility From: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  5. 5. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist – Elementary - SecondaryDexterity Strengths Musical Strengths___ Has a hobby building model cars, planes, ships or other ___ Is sensitive to the rhythms of music similar projects ___ Enjoys playing a musical instrument___ Displays good handwriting ___ Knows the music and lyrics of many songs___ Likes to juggle or do magic tricks ___ Has a particular interest in one or more musical___ Enjoys hand crafts like knitting, crocheting, embroidery, genres (e.g. rock, classical, jazz) or needlepoint ___ Enjoys listening to music___ Likes to make things with his/her hands ___ Has a good sense of hearing auditory acuity___ Has good tactile ability ___ Has a good sense of pitch___ Enjoys arts and crafts like origami, collage, and/or paper ___ Has a good singing voice maché ___ Makes up his/her own tunes or melodies with or___ Enjoys woodworking, carpentry, carving, and/or metal without/lyrics work____Has good eye-hand coordination High Tech Strengths ___ Likes to spend time using a computer, tablet, or smartNature Strengths phone ___ Has a facility for playing video games___ Has good rapport with animals ___ Likes to surf the Internet___ Is good at taking care of plants in the classroom or at home ___ Knows how to set up audio-visual or computer equipment___ Is sensitive to weather patterns ___ Likes to text on the phone___ Takes care of a pet at home or at school ___ Enjoys social networking (e.g. blog, website, Facebook)___ Is concerned about the welfare of the planet (e.g. is ___ Enjoys using a still camera or video camera to record ecologically-minded) events or express him/herself___ Likes to go hiking and/or camping in nature ___ Has several his/her own favorite movies or TV shows that___ Enjoys studying nature (e.g. insects, plants, birds, rocks, he/she likes to talk about and/or animals) ____Understands at least one computer language___ Likes to hunt or fish___ Has a good sense of direction From: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  6. 6. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist – Elementary - SecondaryCreative Strengths Miscellaneous Strengths___ Expresses him/herself dramatically ___ Likes collecting things (e.g. stamps, coins, buttons)___ Has a good imagination ___ Loves to cook___ Enjoys doodling, drawing, and/or painting ___ Has a love of learning new things___ Likes to act in plays and skits ___ Is a good test taker___ Works well with clay or other forms of sculpture ___ Possesses a good memory for nighttime dreams___ Demonstrates creativity in one or more school ___ Is curious about the world around him/herassignments ___ Has a good sense of time___ Possesses a love of beautiful things ___ Manages money well___ Has ideas for futuristic or fantastic projects ___ Has good fashion sense in the clothes he/she wears___ Comes up with ideas that nobody else has thought of ___ Has good entrepreneurial skills (e.g. has started own business) started his/her own business Other Strengths (write in other strengths not mentionedSpiritual Strengths Other Strengths (write in any other strengths not mentioned in checklist):___ Enjoys meditation, yoga, or some other form of elsewhere in checklist): contemplation___ Asks big life questions (e.g. what is the purpose of life?)___ Has a deep sense of wisdom___ Participates in religious or other spiritual events___ Has a philosophical attitude toward life___ Has a strong faith in something higher than him/herself From: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  7. 7. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist - Early ChildhoodPersonal Strengths Communication Strengths___ Enjoys working independently ___ Explains ideas or concepts well to others___ Learns from past mistakes ___ Asks good questions___ Has persistence in carrying out activities ___ Is a good storyteller___ Is courageous in dealing with adversity and/or the ___ Is a good joke teller unknown ___ Has good listening skills___ Has a good sense of humor ___ Handles verbal feedback (especially negative feedback) well___ Possesses a sense of responsibility ___ Has good articulation ability___ Has strong opinions about things ___ Is able to effectively use non-verbal cues to communicate___ Marches to the beat of a different drummer with others___ Handles stressful events well. ___ Is persuasive in getting someone to do something___ Has good character (e.g. honesty, integrity, fairness)___ Has a sense of confidence or high self-esteem Emotional Strengths___ Has good self-discipline___ Has personal ambitions in life ____ Is emotionally sensitive to perceiving the world around___ Displays good common sense him/her___ Possesses personal vitality, vigor, or energy ____ Has an optimistic attitude toward life ____ Can accurately tell how he/she is feeling ____ Can easily pick up on the emotional state of another person ____ Is able to handle strong internal feelings in a constructive manner From: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  8. 8. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist - Early ChildhoodSocial Strengths Cognitive Strengths___ Shows leadership ability ___ Has good organization___ Has a good sense of empathy for others ___ Uses self-talk) in solving problems___ Enjoys socializing with others ___ Is able to pay close attention to details___ Is good at helping others ___ Has a good memory___ Is kind or affectionate towards others ___ Is able to think ahead___ Has at least one good friend ___ Is able to become totally absorbed in an activity___ Prefers working with others ___ Can divide attention between two or more___ Likes to play games with others activities___ Has skill in refereeing between peers___ Is polite and has good manners Cultural Strengths___ Is able to work out his/her own conflicts with others___ Works well in groups ___ Has traveled to other countries___ Has a good relationship with at least one family ___ Speaks more than one language member ___ Is tolerant of others who have cultural, ethnic, or___ Is friendly to others racial diversities___ Is good at sharing with others ___ Has pride in his/her own cultural, ethnic, or racial___ Follows rules well background___ Has a good relationship with at least one teacher ___ Enjoys learning about different cultural traditions___ Has good personal hygiene___ Trusts others without being taken in___ Is liked by his peers From: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  9. 9. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist - Early ChildhoodLiteracy Strengths Visual-Spatial Strengths___ Enjoys having books read to him/her ___ Is attracted to machines.___ Engages in emergent reading activities ___ Likes to create structures with building blocks or other___ Enjoys manipulating word blocks materials___ Engages in emergent writing activities. ___ Is good at doing jigsaw puzzles or other visual puzzles___ Has a speaking vocabulary advanced for age ___ Likes to look a maps.___ Enjoys listening to audio books or to someone telling a ___ Seems to have a good imagination. story ___ Gets information more easily through pictures than words___ Likes to be around books. ___ Is sensitive to the visual world around him/herLogical Strengths Physical Strengths___ Does well with science-related activities ___ Has a good sense of physical balance.___ Enjoys playing with number blocks or games. ___ Learns material best when moving around___ Enjoys counting or using numbers in different ways ___ Likes to ride his/her bike, trike, skateboard, and/or other___ Likes to engage with math manipulative materials self-powered personal vehicle___ Has an interest in science topics. ___ Enjoys playing team sports____Often asks ‘’why’’ questions (e.g. ‘’why is the sky blue?”) ___ Is in good physical health ___ Likes to dance or move around creatively ___ Is physically strong for age ___ Is a fast runner or has other athletic abilities ___ Has good physical endurance ___ Has good physical flexibility FFrom: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org." "
  10. 10. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist - Early ChildhoodDexterity Strengths Musical Strengths___ Likes to make things with his/her hands___ Has good tactile ability (e.g. gets information by touching ___ Is sensitive to the rhythms of music things) ___ Enjoys playing around with a musical instrument___ Enjoys arts and crafts activities like finger painting or ___ Knows the music and lyrics of many songs collage. ___ Enjoys listening to music___ Has good eye-hand coordination for age ___ Is sensitive to sounds. ___ Likes to sing ___ Makes up his/her own tunes or melodies.Nature Strengths High Tech Strengths___ Has good rapport with animals ___ Likes to spend time using the computer or tablet___ Is good at taking care of plants in the classroom or at home ___ Has a facility for playing video games___ Is sensitive to weather patterns ___ Likes to go on the Internet___ Takes care of a pet at home or at school ___ Enjoys using a still camera or video camera to record___ Is concerned about the welfare of the planet (e.g. is events or express him/herself ecologically-minded) ___ Has several his/her own favorite movies or TV shows that___ Likes to go hiking and/or camping in nature he/she likes to talk about___ Enjoys studying nature (e.g. insects, plants, birds, rocks, and/or animals)___ Has a good sense of direction From: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org." m, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  11. 11. Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist – Early Childhood Creative Strengths Miscellaneous Strengths ___ Expresses him/herself dramatically ___ Likes collecting things (e.g. stamps, coins, buttons) ___ Has a good imagination ___ Loves to cook ___ Enjoys doodling, drawing, and/or painting ___ Has a love of learning new things ___ Likes to act in made up plays and skits ___ Remembers and talks about nighttime dreams ___ Makes interesting things with clay ___ Is curious about the world around him/her ___ Has a good sense of time ___ Demonstrates creativity in other ways. ___ Seems to take interest in the clothes he/she wears. ___ Possesses a love of beautiful things ___ Has good entrepreneurial skills for age (e.g. thinks about starting ___ Has ideas for futuristic or fantastic projects own business). ___ Comes up with ideas that nobody else has thought of Spiritual Strengths Other Strengths (write in any other strengths not mentioned in checklist): ___ Enjoys meditation, yoga, or some other form of contemplation ___ Asks big life questions (e.g. what is the purpose of life?) ___ Seems to have a deep sense of wisdom ___ Participates in religious or other spiritual events ___ Has a philosophical attitude toward life From: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. "Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."

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