What does Neurodiversity mean to you?

The dictionary defines it as “the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioural traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population (used especially in the context of autistic spectrum disorders)”.

Neurodiversity to me means that you learn/absorb information in a different way to what is perceived as normal. My learning style is doing, I can read all the books on a subject, but I actually learn by being put in front of whatever it is and getting on with it. Does that make me Neurodiverse, or whatever we perceive to be Normal? 

I’m interested in this subject as I have a dear friend who has children on the spectrum and when her oldest son was looking for work following redundancy, Park supported him, I know from speaking to him that he found a lot of the process overwhelming but really appreciated that his consultant was aware of his challenges and took them into consideration when putting him forward for roles. 

This got me thinking, and at that time I read an article online about a sociologist, Judy Singer, who is Autistic. In the late 90’s she started using the term Neurodiversity and aligned it to the concept that developmental disorders are just normal variations in the brain. People who have these neurodiverse disorders will have amazing strengths too. For example, someone who has ADHD might struggle managing their time, but they are wonderfully creative, passionate and driven. They can exhibit out of the box thinking, which in today’s employment market is definitely key. Given the opportunity for the right role, they would absolutely enhance a business and in turn would flourish. 

What do you do to ensure the team around you, who may or may not be Neurodiverse, but I think we all have a little in us, if I’m honest, are supported and able to do their job? Some people don’t like physical contact, so when they meet you might not be comfortable shaking hands and will choose to bump elbows (Covid Style 😊). This is the tip of the iceberg and there are many more examples online of how someone who is Neurodiverse might struggle.

From my perspective, I know that not everyone can read a job description that stretches to two or three pages, I feel we should be looking to create visual job descriptions such as videos, infographics etc., to help support anyone who might find a written job description overwhelming. 

As I’m sure you know, when a new candidate starts a job, they are on-boarded, so the company will do their checks etc., to ensure that they are who they say they are. With regards to seeing candidates, maybe we should pre-board our candidates so that when they are seen at interview, any challenges they face are known to the interviewing team. Challenges can be many and varied and often anything from the handshake scenario above, lights being too bright, and finding it difficult walking through a busy office to get to a meeting room (fear of being stared at). It’s definitely something the team at Park will consider going forward as we believe it’s important that we support our candidates effectively. 

Look around you at your colleagues, how can you make a difference and ensure that they feel supported, likewise, what do you need to ensure you feel included and supported.