An Immense Opportunity: What Ed Yong’s “An Immense World” Can Teach Us About Neurodiversity | Elaine Griffin | 10 Min Read

April 27, 2023

In later years some further ears
Were found in other forms.
The more we know just goes to show
There are no real norms.

–Portion of a poem by zoologist David Pye from An Immense World

Neurodiversity among our children isn’t new. Much of the science is helping us better see it. And as we become increasingly aware of the brain’s various ways of processing information, we are not only doing a better job as educators, but also coming to a more expansive understanding of what it means to be human.

There are books galore for educators and parents that specifically address this big and important topic. But some of my recent insights involving neurodiversity draw on similar advances in how we see and perceive animals. Cue the music for Ed Yong’s marvelous new book, An Immense World, which deservedly finished on nearly every 2022 list of the year’s best books.

What does Yong’s research on how animals perceive the world have to do with neurodivergent kids? Plenty.  

More on that in a minute; first let me tell you about the book itself.

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Elaine Griffin

Elaine Griffin is the Middle School Head at University School of Milwaukee, where she had previously served as an Upper School literature teacher and administrator for more than 20 years. Her essays have previously appeared in Education Next, The Once and Future Classroom, Chinese Language Matters, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Her professional interests include parent education, curricular reform, and social-emotional learning.