Neurodiversity: Celebration, Strengths, and the Need to Create Inclusive Spaces

The term “neurodiverse” became mainstream in the 1990s and originated from sociologist Judy Singer. Neurodiversity is used to describe the different ways that people view and experience their immediate environment, it implies that there is no one ‘standard’ way of thinking, acting, or learning, and highlights the strength that comes with diversity. 

Neurodiverse ‘conditions’ include dyslexia, dyspraxia, Aspergers and autism symptoms, Tourettes, and others. 

In 2022,  Neurodiversity Celebration Week ran from the 21st to the 27th of March. This time of celebration and commemoration of the gifts neurodiversity gives us, was created by thought leader Siena Castellon to shift the focus equally to neurodiverse strengths as well as the challenges. The week aims to advocate for and improve inclusivity and equality within different sectors of society. 

The Capabilities of neurodiverse individuals are far-reaching, some of the more common strengths are:

  • Creativity,
  • Art and design skills,
  • Musical capabilities,
  • Strengths in areas such as mathematics and IT
  • “Outside-the-box” thinking

William Hughes’ story below for instance is a great example of the diverse ways in which neurodiverse people are gifted and how valuable they are to the workspace. 

William works as a data auditor at Prolink Staffing. His professional background is in Political Science and Analytics and is currently pursuing a master’s programme in Data Analytics. William is also autistic, a neurodiverse condition that he only began to discover in 2003. 

Because of William’s condition, he had previously been regarded as unable to work due to social difficulties. However, William soon came to realize that he was especially gifted in computer programming. Through self-teaching, he was able to learn key computer programming, landed himself a couple of jobs, and was able to live independently. William lists some of his additional strengths as resourcefulness, time management, and the ability to maintain a professional demeanor. 

William’s story shows us some of the challenging circumstances with which neurodiverse people experience the world. There are however several steps we can take to shift our social spaces to be more supportive and optimal for the neurodiverse population.

Organizations can look to do things such as adjusting buildings to consider sound and light sensitivity, providing a contrasting paper that helps dyslexics to read words easier; being flexible with work times and locations, for those that may be challenged with working at different times of the day or in particular environments. 

Taking time to get to know neurodiverse individuals that work for you, what they need, and what would work as a ‘reasonable adjustment’ for them is one of the first steps in continuing to create an inclusive environment, where neurodiversity thrives and is supported. 

There are so many strengths in neurodiversity, and this message is echoed and backed up by countless inspiring stories as well as scientific studies. Here at The Diverse Leaders Coach, We will continue to advocate for inclusivity efforts in creating a suitable environment for the neurodiverse, neurotypical, and everything in between! 

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