Neurodiversity refers to the natural variation in human brain function and cognition. It encompasses a wide range of conditions, including autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, and ways of perceiving, processing, and thinking that lack medical names. Most people who are familiar with neurodiversity use the term correctly with the meaning including all humans and the entire range of ways to perceive, process and think that exist in the human population.
The word "Neurodiverse" is often misunderstood and all too frequently misused as referring to a specific group or person. An example I heard recently on a major autism summit was continually referring to autistic students as "neurodiverse learners". However, this is not the case and is actually a contortion of the English language. My good friend Dr Lutza Ireland of Australia explains this in a very easy way using the example of biodiversity. In biodiversity you don't refer to...
While this is a topic that has bothered me for quite a while there were some recent posts on LinkedIn that pushed my buttons and motivated me to write about the "SuperPowers" myth. Here is the text out of one of the posts:
TALENT IS 90% TO
There was another post about Rudolf the red nosed reindeer being a symbol for the neurodistinct because he had an unrecognized super power and was shunned until it came to light. The underlying premise is again that being neurodistinct means you have a super power.
Promoting the idea of "superpowers" in neurodistinct individuals, particularly those on the autism spectrum, can be harmful to the neurodiversity movement in the workplace. This concept perpetuates the stereotype that individuals with autism and other neurodistinctions have exceptional abilities in specific areas, such as math or computer programming, but lack basic social or other skills.
While some autistic...
I had the enjoyable time of chatting with Stacey Ford from nonPareil https://npusa.org/ about their program to teach autistic individuals the social and hard skills needed for career jobs. We also discussed the more general topic of autistic employment, company run programs, and differences in outcomes between those who were late diagnosed versus those diagnosed early and brought up through a system of special services and accommodations.
We found there was so much to talk about that it became 2 episodes of my podcast podcast.timgoldstein.com While much of the focus in employment for autistic individuals has been on programs run by individual companies and organizations such as those in the Neurodiversity at Work Employers Roundtable We are seeing many of those programs facing challenges in scaling beyond pilot programs, giving individuals hired through the programs the same opportunities for career growth as the companies...
I received a message from the contact for of my site regarding a challenge a manager was having with an autistic employee. The initial message follows:
"I am a supervisor and have a high functioning employee with "Asperger's". I am going to call her Sue in the message as I cannot use her real name. I cannot divulge that Sue is on the spectrum to my other employees who are constantly complaining about how Sue ignores them, doesn't pic up on social cues, talks "to them" not "with them", etc. Do you have any resources for me as a supervisor to 1) help my other employees accept Sue without my telling them she has autism. 2) have any resources I could give Sue to read that might give her instructions as how interact with the other employees. I have an adult son with Asbergers, so I am confident and comfortable interacting with Sue, and she is with me."
This is my initial reply to gather more details:
First you deserve major kudos for the effort you are taking to help Sue. The world would...
I had the chance to be a guest on the Beyond Tech Skills https://www.beyondtechskills.com podcast by Liron Amitzi and Jim Czuprynski. Interesting and unique podcast as the focus is everything in the tech world, except tech.
The full episode releases end of August 2022. As a teaser this post has a short excerpt in video form from the studio camera I had recording even though it was for a podcast.
Check out the podcast when it releases. Liron asked me a very interesting question. Growing up and living in Israel until a few years ago gave him an interesting insight which made me think autism and other neurodistinct conditions might best be looked at as their own unique culture. You will have to listen to the podcast for the details.
Judy Singer created the very useful concept of Neurodiversity. While I like and teach the neurodiversity concept I had a problem with the term neurodivergent. I have another post on my blog which gets into the details of why I created the term Neurodistinct.
In this very short video Dr Ireland explains how the term Neurodistinct is a healthcare innovation. Listen to her explain.
Fate works in odd and mysterious ways. For a while I had been frustrated about having no clue about the impact my efforts in the adult autism world was having. Then I got an email which lead to a discussion. The outcome was Learning Tree is letting me build a neurodiversity course bases on my concepts and taking it mainstream into the tech and tech management space.
The course introduces neurodiversity and recognizes that among the neurodistinct it is not just autism. But the focus of the course is on the stereotypical tech geek that most autism at work programs focus on. I go far beyond "those people are this way" and into ways the autistic mind perceives, process, and thinks. Building on the foundation of understanding students are also give simple easy to implement tips which will improve their communication with everyone, not just the autistic.
While aimed at the tech department and tech management it is also a...
Jude Morrow shares his experience of being autistic from the lens of his childhood. Amazing insight into the real life experience of being autistic.
I've had long conversations with Jude. His ability to tell of his lived experience of autism in a way that is easy to relate to is incredible. While he does clearly explain how you can be a hero to an autistic child, an even bigger message is that being autistic is normal for us, not something to be squashed out of us.
If schools, providers, and parents all took the approach Jude recommends we would see a huge reduction in the employment challenges us autistics face. Building autistic adults who can function in the adult world starts by building confidence in what we can do well. Instead the medical community and well meaning, but misguided, neurotypical created and run community say we need to eliminate as many of these differences as we can so the child can have a normal life. Jude does an amazing job explaining that our...
A wonderful guest post by Tas Kronby. Check out their Bio at the end of the post.
Trigger Warning: fictional description of a medical appointment, mention of hospitalization, mistreatment by mental professionals, mention of mental health diagnosis terms ie. anxiety, suicidal ideations, depression. Discussion of autism and the lack of awareness in the medical field.
Imagine for a moment you walk into a doctors office seeking medical attention for pain in your shoulder. You stand in line, check in, and the nurse takes you back to the exam room. You sit down on the cold examination table and they begin to ask questions. Health questions, maybe some small talk here and there. Finally, it happens. The moment of dread hits you when they ask, "What is your diagnosis?"
Why is this so terrifying? Often, the lack of awareness from physicians and other healthcare professionals leads to problematic treatments, lack of treatments, or even being invalidated because you have a...
2020 has been a unique and unfortunately challenging year for much of the world. I know we are all dealing with different aspects of the unique events and especially COVID as it seems to be flaring up globally. I have had a little extra challenge from something many would consider the holy grail.
The company I was working for was acquired by Google and I am now a Google employee (AKA: Googler). Yes amazing opportunity and a culture of doing not talking. The challenge came from COVID-19. The day we moved to the Google payroll and became Googlers is the same day Google began their proactive efforts and canceled all none essential business travel, off-sites and other steps. Due to the size of the acquisition a lot of upper management effort was needed to fit an entire company into the organization and merge us into the Google processes and culture. Unfortunately this same people were suddenly busy on a huge range of efforts to keep the world connected and functioning as lockdowns...