Diversity and inclusion in tech: What is neurodiversity?

In this video from Computer Weekly’s annual diversity and inclusion in tech event, in partnership with Spinks, Rachel Morgan-Trimmer, neurodiversity coach and consultant, talks about neurodiversity.

Morgan-Trimmer delivers a workshop about neurodiverse conditions such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia, including the strengths and challenges of living with these conditions, and what individuals with these conditions can offer to the workplace.

Explaining the term “neurodiversity” is used to describe people who have a brain difference, Morgan-Trimmer outlines the different characteristics of particular brain differences:

Dyslexia – often see shapes rather than detail and can have challenges reading, writing or spelling. People with dyslexia are often creative and insightful, and can do well in roles such as architecture and graphic design because of their ability to spot patterns, shapes and anomalies.

Dyspraxia – can have problems with fine motor movements and often struggle if not provided with step-by-step instructions. People with dyspraxia are often extremely persistent and can be creative problem solvers.

ADHD – there are two types of ADHD, one characterised by over-activity and the other by daydreaming. People with ADHD are often characterised by being forgetful and easily distracted, but are also very creative and can have periods of “hyper focus” where they are able to concentrate in great detail on a single activity for a prolonged period of time. People with ADHD can be good at multi-tasking and are good under pressure.

Autism – as a non-linear spectrum, autism can appear in many different ways in different people, with some displaying rigid behaviour and difficulty socialising. Describing the autism spectrum as a “rainbow of colour”, Morgan-Trimmer explains autism is often hard to diagnose, especially in women, because of the range of characteristics involved.

She also explains why employers should care about hiring and catering to people who are neurodiverse, not least because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it can be massively beneficial for a company.

Morgan-Trimmer explains neurodiverse people often learn faster than others, and will find ways of completing tasks more quickly than neuro-typical people.

Most adaptations needed in a workplace to accommodate neurodiverse people cost nothing, and inclusive workplaces usually have lower staff absences, higher performance and increased revenue, according to Morgan-Trimmer.

She then goes on to explain how to properly implement inclusion in a workplace, including points such as:

  • Rethinking how you hire people, where you are looking for talent and how you choose talent for your business.
  • Making a continued effort to maintain and review inclusion practices rather than seeing it as a box ticking exercise.
  • Tailoring your approach to individuals in an organisation rather than expecting a “one size fits all” approach.

She summarises by saying: “Neurodiverse people have always been excluded, we’ve always been left out, we’ve always been told that we’re a problem, or we’re a challenge or we need to be managed.

“So when you come to us with that positive attitude and that open mind and that willingness to listen to us and to include us it really means a lot to us.”

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