When we talk about diversity, we typically think about gender, age, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation and so on. Although the term neurodiversity isn’t as well known, neurodiversity includes the diversity of the human brain and the variation in neurocognitive functioning in connection with learning, attention, sociability and numerous other mental functions. Being a parent of a child who had additional support throughout his education, I am reassured to work for an organisation which is fully committed to its diversity policy and be a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Forum. I hope my story will help other organisations to understand how they are missing out by not being neurodiverse and give hope and inspiration to parents who may worry what the future holds for their children.
At the age of 5, our son started school with no expressive language. Professionals who assessed him were “unsure how he was wired”, as he displayed traits of autism, Asperger’s, dyspraxia, dyslexia and ADHD, yet with no diagnosis. Some 15 years on, our son is a young adult in his second year at university completing an Animation degree.
When working on his assignments, I see my son working on his laptop with his phone on a stand and his tablet playing videos, sometimes with headphones on and sometimes not. He explained to me that he is listening to music, adding to his playlist if he likes a particular track, watching a video or film (from the corner of his eye) that he has seen before and working on his assignment all at the same time. These ‘distractions’ are for times when “not all my thought power is required”, with headphones for times “when the room volume isn’t correct”.
For someone who likes to be in the zone without any interruptions, I question how our son manages to submit a piece of work which qualifies for an upper second class or first-class (60% and above) time after time, yet the evidence is there. He is one of the most hard working individuals I have ever come across and I hope that an opportunity arises in the future for him, to work for a neurodiverse employer who recognise the benefits and value employing such an individual.