My neurodiversity story technically began as an adult. As an adult, I've been diagnosed with dyscalculia and ADHD. Little girls present neurodiversity differently than boys. Boys are often boisterous and loud, and they get a lot of attention, whereas little girls tend to be quieter in the classroom as children. Girls may not catch the attention of the adults in the room but girls still have the daydreaming or the chit-chat in the classroom. I was surprised to learn it is common for women to receive a diagnosis as adults. These are small signs of inattention. There is a possibility of neurodiversity, but not always. Neurodiversity diagnosis can take time and a certified professional must do the testing.
My life was changed when I was diagnosed with ADHD and dyscalculia. Suddenly I felt understood and connected to new possibilities. Growing up was difficult. I had difficultly with close relationships, and my friendships would come and go. I suffered from bullying, and I never truly fit in. Also, I don't think I ever had a recess. I was always struggling with my math homework or trying to learn how to do the math assignments during recess. I never understood why my brain resisted Math. I had an assigned tutor and I studied, but I never grasped the concepts. Now later on in life, I've learned it's normal for someone like me, with dyscalculia to have these types of issues in school.
How does my neurodiversity impact me at work? Becoming accustomed to my internal thought processes, as I have never known anything different! I have already created many workarounds for my neurodiversity. However, with ADHD, I'm often unable to understand the nuances of what people mean. I don't catch on to small gestures, or tones of voice. I also tend to take on too much at once because I love multitasking. I speak directly and I don't like when people beat around the bush. I don’t have patience for speech when it is unclear, I want the speaker to simply tell me what they want me to do & give me feedback. I cannot guess people's intentions and I hate surprises. Linear thinking is difficult for me, in clinical research often the process is communicated from point A to point B to point C, and my brain is like a spider web. I'm seeing all the different connections of things that impact these various time points. It can be hard for me to talk about going from point A to point B without talking about all the other things that impact point A and point B. I believe most of the time, this perspective is a benefit to the team. I often identify different approaches to a task.
Neurodiversity brings many positive assets to work. Every day I show up as my authentic self, the ability to unmask offers innovation and unique perspectives to the community. I am proud to own my out-of-the-box approach. Creating new things and learning new technologies is a strength. One of the things I would love to create in 2022 is an ERG for neurodiversity, branching the ERG into a larger community for providing support. My ability to hyperfocus on topics of interest for prolonged periods of time has been a saving grace on many of my projects.
The benefits of neurodivergent inclusion at work are numerous. Obviously, the company's reputation is enhanced. Companies are sending a public message & showing they are an inclusive environment. Companies also see productivity gains, quality improvements, and stronger innovations. All these positives happen when employers recognize their employees and offer an inclusive & safe environment. Everyone wants to feel valued, and employees want a sense of purpose & belonging. Employees are more engaged when they feel that they are important members of the community.
I will dive into a few small & simple ways to adapt diversity, equity, & inclusion in Part 3! :D