It's time for society to have a mature conversation about neurodiversity and its implications, as many people have difficulty understanding or are uncomfortable with the labels associated with it in the context of mental health in a complex and label-obsessed modern world.
The United Nations (UN) has taken steps to promote autism inclusion and neurodiversity with the introduction of World Autism Day in 2016, and the inclusion of goals and targets that aim to leave no one behind in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, the question remains whether neurodiversity can be directly linked to a neurodevelopment condition in today's world. Does the diagnostic context truly reflect the societal context? In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the use of terms related to neurodiversity such as "neurotypical" and "neurodivergent". "Neurotypical" is used to describe individuals with typical cognitive and intellectual abilities, while "neurodivergent" refers to those who have neurological variations that are considered outside the norm. These labels have long been positioned as opposites, rather than complimentary, when in reality, they can coexist in society and in the business world.
It is important to note that neurodevelopment conditions are not disorders. They are not mental health disorders in a societal context, but they are currently classified as such in diagnostic and clinical terms. Neurodiversity promotes the idea that brain differences are normal and should be celebrated, rather than viewed as deficits. People have different experiences of the world and different ways of interacting with others due to their unique brain wiring. It is time for a meaningful and grown-up societal discussion on what this all means and how we can embrace neurodiversity for a more inclusive and sustainable world.
Inclusion of Neurological Diversity in the Workplace
In recent years, there has been a growing focus on diversity and inclusion within the workplace, particularly in terms of gender balance and equal pay, as well as respect for religious and cultural differences. However, little attention has been given to neurodiversity. Research from McKinsey, Catalyst, and Deloitte (Australia) has found clear evidence that diversity and inclusion not only matter, but also have a significant impact on performance. However, this research does not specifically address the neuro component.
It is important for this to change. Along with expanding research, it is necessary to dispel the stigma surrounding neurodevelopmental differences and to recognize them as opportunities, particularly in terms of employment and social inclusion. Many neurodivergent individuals have shown a strong aptitude for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, which can bring great opportunities as the global business environment changes.
Examples of successful initiatives include the US EY's collaboration with Microsoft, SAP, AT&T, Ford, Hewlett-Packard, and JP Morgan Chase. Through sharing best practices and addressing challenges, this work has been able to create a pool of appropriate candidates and bridge the gap. As Karyn Twaronite, EY's Global Vice-Chair of Diversity and Inclusiveness, said in May 2019, neurodiversity is driving innovation from unexpected places.
Changes in Behavior
It is essential that society engages in a progressive conversation about improving the skillsets of individuals with neurodiverse abilities. Early identification and interventions bring mutual benefits for both the individual and society as a whole. However, it is important to not lose sight of specific conditions, such as autism and ADHD, within the broader neurodiversity label. Instead, we must include all forms of neurodiversity in this conversation.
A three-pronged approach has been proposed by the author and their colleagues to address this challenge. This includes collaboration with private sector and key public partners, examination of psychometric testing through the lens of psychology, and working with partners to promote earlier identification in a Scottish context through the use of the Development and Wellbeing Assessment.
Through this collective effort, we can identify innovative inclusion and opportunity that benefits individuals, businesses, the public purse, and society as a whole. It is important to recognize that we all think and process differently and it is these differences that make up our society. By embracing neurodiversity, we can create a more inclusive and productive society.
It is vital that society engages in a progressive discussion about neurodiversity and the importance of identifying and utilizing the unique skills and abilities of individuals with neurodevelopmental differences. The three-pronged approach outlined in this paper, involving partnerships with the private sector, psychometric testing, and early identification, is just one example of how we can work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all. At Learn with Koala, we understand the importance of inclusive education and strive to provide our students with the support they need to succeed. Our tutors are highly trained and experienced in working with individuals with neurodevelopmental differences, and can provide tailored instruction that takes into account each student's unique needs and learning style. Whether you're a student with ADHD, autism, or any other neurodevelopmental disorder, our tutors can help you achieve your full potential and succeed in your academic pursuits. You can find and book those classes at this page.