Understanding Neurodiversity

Having invested some serious time in April to become a Neurodiversity Awareness Practitioner I feel obligated to share some of the essential knowledge I have gained from my time spent with the team at Thrive Neurodiversity & Mental Health.

I have always been a fan of understanding the individual and working with them so their best self shows up at work. Has this always worked? Hell no! Have I got it wrong? Yep! BUT, and it is a big but, when it has worked it has worked amazingly well. As a manager we all make mistakes but for me it is the learning that matters.

Always interested in people I have made a career out of working with people.

I love the insights discovery work I do as it helps us understand our behavioural preferences. It shows us how to adapt to connect with others as much as it helps us understand ourselves.

Where does neurodiversity fit into all this then?

My son was diagnosed with ADHD before he even started school. At two and half he was kicked out of pre-school as he was too much to handle. They told me they could not keep their eyes on him enough to keep him safe???? I am going back over 25 years now and boy, have things moved on a bit, thank goodness. We always called it his ‘superpower’ as I did not struggle with his diagnosis. He was an active little boy that needed to be stimulated. Easy really. Counting birds nests when in the car, naming the colours of vegetables when shopping and playing with something to keep his hands busy at the dinner table. (Now called fidget toys!)

Now transition to the workplace and has life moved on? I am not so sure? We use one route usually to assess individuals in the recruitment process? Isn’t that as old school as teaching everyone to write right handed?

Neurodiversity covers a wide range of neurological conditions including autism and ADHD. I knew my son had a talent, and I knew he needed a job where he was using his hands. As such we pursued a career where he was out and about all day meeting new people! A gas engineer was a great choice. And he always gets great feedback from his customers. They love him! He builds rapport and relationships easily. Now I know this is one of the many strengths of ADHD. And I now know that each neurodiverse condition has some amazing strengths that businesses need to harness for their own success too!

So imagine neurodiversity in a different light.

Imagine a company as a bustling city, maybe even Milton Keynes.  There are wide avenues bustling with activity (Midsummer Place & Silbury Boulevard) quiet parks perfect for focused work (Campbell Park and Willen Lake maybe?) and bustling markets filled with creative energy (The Hub and MK:U).

A successful city thrives on this diversity of spaces, catering to the different needs and preferences of its inhabitants. Just like the cityscape, human brains come in a variety of configurations – neurodiversity. These variations aren’t choices, but inherent neurological differences that influence how we process information and interact with the world.

Think of it like this: some people have exceptional eyesight, allowing them to see details at a distance. Others have a heightened sense of smell, picking up on subtle nuances missed by others. Both are valuable, but their strengths lie in different areas. Neurodiverse individuals might be naturally wired for intense focus, like having a built-in zoom lens on their brain. This allows them to delve deeply into complex problems, uncovering hidden connections. Conversely, others might possess a naturally broader perspective, like having a panoramic view of the world. This allows them to see the bigger picture and identify creative solutions.

Understanding neurodiversity becomes crucial when building a successful company culture. By embracing these variations, organisations unlock a treasure trove of benefits:

Enhanced Innovation:  When people with different cognitive strengths come together, they generate a wider range of ideas, leading to ground breaking solutions.

Stronger Teams: Diversity of thought fosters richer discussions and a more comprehensive understanding of challenges.

Improved Productivity: People feel comfortable and engaged when they can work in a way that suits their neurological wiring.

Wider Talent Pool:  Companies can attract exceptional individuals by recognising and celebrating neurodiversity.

Creating a neurodiversity-friendly workplace doesn’t require a dramatic transformation. It’s about offering flexible work arrangements, providing clear and concise communication, and celebrating different communication styles.

In essence, understanding neurodiversity isn’t about changing people; it’s about building a city where everyone has a space to thrive, where their unique neurological strengths contribute to the overall success and vibrancy of the company.

I hope you found this useful and if you are interested in some neurodiversity awareness training for your business then please get in touch. It’s an hour of your time, you can have up to 50 delegates and costs only £650.