By Fareeha Usman, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Manager, Dynamo North East.
People who are “neurotypical” have a brain that works according to the conventional standards of our society, anyone whose brain does not work according to those standards can be termed as “neurodiverse”.
Neurodiversity is a term that addresses people with traits that are associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, various mental health issues i.e.; depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety issues, acquired memory losses, Tourette’s, and other neuro-minorities. These traits are not under one person’s control but they are a different way in which the human mind thinks and the human life is lived.
Neurodiversity challenges the negative terminology of “being disabled” that surrounds these functions of the brain. Many times, ADHD, Autism, and are linked with a disability, being neurodiverse does not mean a person is disabled. It describes and celebrates our ability to think and experience life uniquely as humans. Our ability to think and live differently should be accepted and valued as a natural part of humanity.
Much of the beautiful art that we see, whether it is films, poetry, or music comes from autistic minds. Many inventions that have carried our world forward in the field of technology and science also have autistic brains behind them. Just like biodiversity supports a healthy physical environment, neurodiversity helps create a healthy cognitive environment. All forms of neurological developments are equally valid and valuable. All humans should be treated with equal dignity and kindness. In the UK, more than 15% of people are neurodivergent, that is about 1 in 7 people. (https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Neurodiversity%20Slides%20200920.pdf) But sadly, there is still a long way to go when it comes to equality in terms of gender and race and undoubtedly, the road ahead for the neurodiverse is no less arduous.
The curiosity of neurodiverse individuals and their ability to memorize large amounts of information gives them an advantage over many others. They are capable enough to see patterns and details, their approach to solving problems in uncommon ways can lead to many innovations for companies. These benefits have thrilled employers and encouraged them to look beyond the neurotypical mind and skill set.
Despite these visible benefits, the participation rates of autistic people in the workforce are low. It’s only 32% in the UK.
But slowly and gradually, companies are making a difference in their recruitment process.
In an organization, everyone brings their own expertise, ideas, and skills. Different genders, races, sexual orientations, and neurodiverse individuals if taken care of properly can take their work to new and bigger heights. They are needed at all levels of our planning and strategy to create and improve our future. By recruiting and appreciating people who think differently than most, businesses are observing that they can solve problems in new and unorthodox ways, and in many situations, expand their customer base.
We still have so much to learn from this inspiring area in the workforce’s diversity and inclusion. Organizations running neurodiversity programs are already gaining competitive advantages by promoting an underutilized pool of talent.
Discriminating a person on the basis of how they read, feel, socialize or think is extremely terrible. Difference should be appreciated and celebrated but most importantly it should be accepted and accorded with the same rights and privileges. We all are to some extent, differently abled because we all are born and brought up in a different manner.
Greater awareness and probably a shift in the mindset as to how we view such people will definitely create a new world of acceptance, tolerance and kindness for all.
If you would like to have your say around EDI please write to us at Fareeha.firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch the fifth episode of of the 6 month series around Dynamo’s EDI action plan presented by Fareeha Usman on the Dynamo YouTube Channel
Listen to Fareeha’s latest podcast here:
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