Comparing people to potatoes is a good way to explain diversity in the workplace. Although potatoes come in thousands of different varieties, shops give us the same regular sample to choose from. The same applies to our workplaces – we choose the same sample of the population. And if an employee doesn’t think or act like the majority, they are “weeded” out. Weeding out is often unintentional. That’s because employers haven’t yet worked out that humanity is neurodiverse.
The term neurodiverse is often applied to people who are autistic. This is where stereotypes arise. The extra bright person who thinks differently to those around them is just one. Neurodiversity includes people with ADHD, dyslexia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other cognitive conditions.
According to Kat Crewes we have seen a good deal of progress in workplaces. She says that research from EY suggest that neurodivergent people make up 20 per cent of the population. Yet many can’t get jobs or jobs they could excel in.
Larger corporations are realising the benefits of designing workplaces that include people who are neurodiverse. Crewes mentions Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and Deloitte.
After hiring 100 neurodiverse people, EY found that their problem solving and creativity helped their business. A similar story for Hewlett Packard’s software development. But it is a big risk for someone to say they are autistic or neurodiverse.
Designing the workplace
Many workplaces are getting up to speed with physical access. But we have to consider other design aspects such as sound and light sensitivity. Neuro-inclusivity requires a more nuanced approach. That includes giving neurodiverse people the opportunity to share their experiences.
Crewes says that defining what accessibility means for a neurodivergent person is the first step. That means creating a safe place to speak up. She also explains more about people with ADHD and other cognitive conditions. The spectrum includes all genders, cultural backgrounds, and ages. They are working in every type of profession and organisation.
We are a long way from accepting people who are neurodiverse into the workplace. This exclusion is often the result of failing to adjust. It does take effort to design for inclusion. And it is not all one way. Embedding neurodivergent people within the workplace is a learning experience for everyone.
The Kat Crewes’ Aurecon article is titled, Designing for a neurodiverse workplace. The second half of the article has the information on workplace design.
Book review: Stories about the neurodiversity movement
The Commons Social Change website features a new book which is a collection of stories about the neurodiversity movement. The collection gathers the voices of both activists and academics. The introduction explains the approach to commissioning the chapters.
The chapters are open access and the book title is: Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement: Stories from the Frontline.
The first book to bring together a collection of neurodiverse contributors to talk about events that shaped the movement, and which they themselves were involved with. Focuses on activists’ direct experience effecting change for people who identify as autistic rather than abstract accounts that reflect on autism’s social construction or essence.
Provides a one-stop shop for readers interested in the history and ideas of the neurodiversity movement and how these ideas have shaped production of expert and especially lay knowledge about autism. Gathers a collective of autistic activist/academic voices and engages in current theoretical debates around knowledge production and epistemic authority within (critical) research on autism.
From the abstract
This edited collection offers a historical overview of the autistic community and neurodiversity movement through first-hand accounts. Awareness and impact of the movement has grown, but misunderstandings persist.
The book covers the terms neurodiversity and neurodiversity movement, the breadth of the movement. There is an overlap with and divergence from the medical model, and its emphasis on self-advocacy.
Contents of the book
Autistic People Against Neuroleptic Abuse, Dinah Murray
Autistics.Org and Finding Our Voices as an Activist Movement, Laura A. Tisoncik
Losing, Mel Baggs
Neurodiversity.Com: A Decade of Advocacy. Kathleen Seidel
Autscape, Karen Leneh Buckle
The Autistic Genocide Clock, Meg Evans
Shifting the System: AASPIRE and the Loom of Science and Activism, Dora M. Raymaker
Out of Searching Comes New Vibrance, Sharon daVanport
Two Winding Parent Paths to Neurodiversity Advocacy, Carol Greenburg, Shannon Des Roches Rosa
Lobbying Autism’s Diagnostic Revision in the DSM-5, Steven K. Kapp, Ari Ne’eman
Torture in the Name of Treatment: The Mission to Stop the Shocks in the Age of Deinstitutionalization, Shain M. Neumeier, Lydia X. Z. Brown
My Time with Autism Speaks, John Elder Robison
Covering the Politics of Neurodiversity: And Myself, Eric M. Garcia
“A Dream Deferred” No Longer: Backstory of the First Autism and Race Anthology, Morénike Giwa Onaiwu
Entering the Establishment?
From Protest to Taskforce, Dinah Murray
Critiques of the Neurodiversity Movement, Ginny Russell
Conclusion, Steven K. Kapp