What is Neurodiversity?
About 1 in 8 people are thought to be Neurodiverse (ND).
This term has been gaining traction more recently as some terms like ‘specific learning difficulties’ and ‘hidden impairments’ seem to have a greater focus on what people can’t do instead of showcasing talent and ability.
International companies are seeing the real benefits of hiring Neurodiverse talents such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase and even GCHQ where the spies are trained!
Many successful and famous people are also standing up and telling their stories of success from all walks of society including Richard Branson, Greta Thunberg, Mark Ruffalo, Carol Greider, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Packham, Michael Phelps, Daniel Radcliffe, Keira Knightley, will.i.am, Temple Grandin, Simone Biles, and Anne Hegarty.
Conditions under the Neurodiversity umbrella include:
- Dyslexia (Reading, spelling and writing challenges)
- Dyscalculia (Maths challenges)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Condition – including Asperger’s syndrome
- Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (also known as Dyspraxia) – (Coordination challenges)
- Developmental Language Disorders (Speaking, listening, understanding and communicating challenges)
- Tic disorders including Tourette’s syndrome
In reality, these conditions often overlap with one another. Every person has a unique pattern of both strengths and challenges. Two people with dyslexia for example will have different patterns of strengths and challenges. You may find spelling difficult but somebody else may find reading information quickly is difficult to do.
If you are leaving school, the potential college, training provider, university or employer may assume that you will tell them that you are Neurodiverse ( or perhaps say that you have ADHD,ASD, Dyspraxia or Dyslexia) either when applying or at the interview (if you have been diagnosed).Not everyone feels confident telling the organisation they have one condition such as Dyslexia or even more than one condition.
There may be different reasons why you don’t want to tell people. This may be because you have had negative past experiences in school such as not having much help or recognition of your challenges or you are not so sure about how to tell someone positively about yourself. If you are a girl, you may have missed out even more in being diagnosed with ADHD or Autism Spectrum Condition. Historically, assessment processes may have viewed Neurodiversity through a more ‘male lens’ in terms of its presentation and not recognised what it is like for girls.
Tips to help showcase your ND talents:
- Understand your ND profile so you can discuss your strengths and be able to tell others clearly what your challenges are and what help you may need.
- Prepare your CV and/or UCAS application with examples of what you have achieved and focus on your strengths.
- If you have an interview with an employer, college, training provider or university, ask for information about the interview processes before the interview so you can be fully prepared. Remember to ask if a task may be part of the process and if necessary, discuss appropriate adjustments such as having extra time or being able to use a computer.
- If you are worried about remembering information, take notes and a copy of your application form with you to the interview. The process should not be about testing your memory!
- Become knowledgeable about your support needs. If going into employment, contact Access to Work for advice and a workplace assessment (www.neurodiversityemployment.org.uk) or speak to Student Services at the college or university that you are going to.
- In college, university or the workplace discuss your preferred means of communication (having key information written down or emailed to you) with your lecturer or line manager so you are sure of work priorities.
About the author
Professor Amanda Kirby (https://www.linkedin.com/in/profamandakirby/) is the CEO of Do-IT Solutions. She is an internationally recognised expert in the field of Neurodiversity with more than 25 years research and clinical experience has personal experiences of being Neurodiverse. She is a parent of fabulous children who are neurodivergent!
Do-IT Solutions are a tech-for-good company unique screening tools for companies to help support people with Neurodiversity. This includes the innovative ND-App- designed to provide a personal picture of strengths and challenges and deliver practical strategies dependent on your profile.