February 2024

Reframing Neurodiversity For Better Mental Health

Jess Meredith is wearing a light blue top and dark blue glasses. She has long curly red hair.


The relationship between neurodivergence and mental health is complex.

In this session, you’ll learn from neurodiversity and inclusion expert Jess Meredith about the connection between mental health and neurodivergence.

By the end of the hour, you’ll discover why now is the time to challenge neurotypical social norms and how to approach neuroinclusion in your organisation.

Meet the Speaker – Jess Meredith

CEO & Founder @ Differing Minds

It’s not that the neurotypical way is right and the neurodivergent way is wrong. It’s just that it’s all different.

Screenshot of Jess Meredith speaking during the webinar. Jess has long red curly hair and is wearing a purple cardigan and glasses.
Jess Meredith, CEO & Founder

With a passion for reframing the narrative around neurodiversity using storytelling and her own lived experience, Jess offers dynamic, interactive talks that captivate and inspire audiences.

Known for her unique perspectives, Jess’s thought-provoking presentations have left a lasting impact on the likes of Accenture, The Adecco Group, Capgemini, and The University of Suffolk.

Watch the full webinar here:

Webinar Summary

Neurodivergent people experience poorer physical and mental health outcomes than their neurotypical peers. Reports suggest 70% of neurodiverse employees are suffering from mental health issues leading to a general sense of social isolation and low self-worth.

In this webinar session, Jess Meredith highlights the range of problems that can lead to mental health challenges while drawing from her own experiences. She explains how to recognise the problems and address them with urgency.

🔥 How to recognise masking and burnout

Social norms have evolved around the majority of neurotypical people. But such expectations can leave neurodivergent people feeling stigmatised, misunderstood, and isolated. To manage their feelings, people with neurodivergence can hide or ‘mask’ their differences.  I the process, this can lead to exhaustion, burnout, and long-term mental health difficulties. 

With many barriers to diagnosis, low levels of general support, and an education system unprepared to accommodate neurodivergence, neurodivergent children can experience trauma. And such low levels of awareness in childhood can evolve into dysfunctional workplaces, where people with neurodivergence are reluctant to disclose their differences and from a general lack of understanding. Research from the National Autistic Society suggests over 50% of autistic employees reported bullying or discrimination from a lack of understanding in the workplace. 

Recognising and accepting the range of systemic problems that people with neurodivergence face–both when diagnosed and undiagnosed–can begin the process of positive change. A process that accepts individuals for who they are and doesn’t force them to change.

⚖ Positive and balanced language and terminology

When we talk about neurodiversity, we’re talking about differences in the diversity of our brains. By definition, that includes everyone since we all have different ways of thinking. But using the correct terminology is useful and important when categorising or speaking about people with neurodivergence. 

Neurodivergent, Neuroatypical, Neurodistinct, and Neurospicy are all positive terms that describe the neurodivergent community. But it’s important to use terminology that people with neurodivergence are most comfortable with, using appropriate language and terminology to promote positive mental health.

Positive language promotes better mental health for people with neurodivergence by describing it through ableist language, which promotes differences in brains or ways of thinking rather than suggesting deficits or defects. Positive terminology empowers people with mental health and helps them avoid feeling stigmatised or less than their peers.

🤝 How to embrace a strengths-based approach for acceptance and inclusion

Within the framework of neurotypical societal norms, it’s common for people to react with sympathy when someone shares their neurodivergent diagnosis. Often, they can respond with unintended negativity. For instance, they may say ‘Oh, that must be awful for you’, which can over-emphasise the negative aspect and may encourage a sense of shame or low self-worth. 

A better way to reply to someone who feels brave enough to share their neurodivergence is to thank them and express gratitude to them for sharing. This way it’s a more positive way to ask them to clarify the strengths they feel they bring to a workplace as a result of their neurodivergence. But at the same time, you’ll present yourself as a safe person who promotes and upholds neurodiversity. 

Another key workplace step is creating a safe environment. By talking in an open and positive way about neurodiversity in the workplace. Having an open mind that embraces equity over equality, and encourages neurodiversity training for all employees is vital.

One way to do this is to consider how working environments impact people with neurodivergence. Loud, busy shared office spaces with formal social codes can be overwhelming to the sensory processing abilities of people with neurodivergence. Many reports suggest people with sensory processing characteristics can experience adverse effects from harsh office lighting and noise levels within open place office spaces.

🧠 The social model of disability and neurodiversity

The disabled community has begun to push The Social Model of Disability and Neurodiversity as a different approach to more traditional medical models which classify disability based on types of impairment. 

The new social model determines disability as a result of their environment. And it offers a framework that suggests people with disabilities lack the tools, machinery, or technology to improve accessibility rather than lacking the skills or abilities. Most feneral design principles focus on accomodating the majority, which can leave neurodivergent people excluded or feeling as though they have to work harder to gain access, understanding, or respect for their differences. 

Research suggests the Social Model of Disability and Neurodiversity offers a powerful tool to support better outcomes for people with disabilities and neurodivergence and specifically autism. Up to 15% of people entering the hospital for a suicide attempt also have an autism diagnosis. And the model offers the chance to create positive societal attitudes by shifting the burden of responsibility from people with autism onto neurotypical institutions.

Your Questions, Answered:

During each Skill Sessions webinar, attendees are given the opportunity to ask questions which are answered live by the guest speaker.

Are there organisations which have impressed you in terms of their approach to neuroinclusion?

Organisations are still figuring out neuroinclusion and no one has completely cracked it yet. Successful organisations focus on improving their internal practices first, care about their employees, and implement slow and steady change. Leadership buy-in is essential, as is having a supportive culture and systems in place. Change takes time and effort, but it’s worth it.

What is a workplace passport?

Sometimes called getting-to-know-you documents, in simple terms – they are a set of information about you. Any information that you want to share about how you like to work with people, how you maybe like to communicate, lots of organisations are doing this in different ways. It could be, what equipment might be useful for you, whatever it could be, and it’s kind of documented somewhere that anybody can see to know how best to work with you.

Are workplace passports are helpful for neurodiverse staff?

I think they’re really good. And I don’t just think they’re good for neurodivergent people. I think they are good for everybody. It’s one of the things that I think is such an easy, quick, win. If we all understood how to work with people or how they like to be worked with better, it changes the game.

What do you believe is the lowest bar companies should have for neurodiversity?

The lowest bar is almost not allowing people to talk about it. Not allowing people to share and I actually see this happen all the time. I see people opening up about neurodivergence and their own identity and being dismissed and wiped off the table before they can even talk about it. And I think if your organisation is in that situation with a large number of the employees or managers then that’s a pretty bad state for us to be in. Because you’ve got to get over the hurdle of being able to talk about it to be accepted, and then the support. The support’s almost the thing that comes like right at the end and when I’m talking about support, I just want to be really clear that not I’m not necessarily talking about really expensive equipment or all these huge changes. Sometimes it’s just someone autistic saying, I really can’t handle unexpected phone calls. So please can you not call me without letting me know about it in advance? It can be so simple, but often you can’t even get to that point.

Watch the Q&A session here:

Read the Transcript

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Hey, hello, everyone.
Welcome welcome.

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It’s great to have you all
here at another Skill Sessions online event.

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Lots of people joining.
We’ve got the chat going – fantastic.

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Anybody who’s new to Skills Sessions,
this is an event series online and in person all hosted by CareScribe.

Read More

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It’s designed to share knowledge about
areas of neurodiversity and disability

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and help to build and foster
an inclusive community

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for these sorts of topics to be discussed.

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Each event is different and on
a different topic and you’ve joined

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today for an exciting session with Jess Meredith,
CEO and Founder of Differing Minds,

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so it’s so lovely to have all of you here.

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Thanks so much for getting involved in the chat.

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Keep the chat going.
Let us know where you’re tuning in from.

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Got lots of people from,

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some people from sunny Bristol like us nice.
Nice weather here today in Bristol bit cold,

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but still still nice for January.

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We got Manchester, more Bristol folk – brilliant.
South London, keep it coming.

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Great. Yeah, let’s keep the chat going, you
know, as I say.

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It’s all about the community. So it’s nice to
get involved on the chat and get the conversation going.

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So I very much encourage you to post throughout the

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All right. So as usual, I’m just going to kick off with a

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little information about CareScribe to let you know who we are and
why we run these events.

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So my name is Rich and I’m one of
the founders and directors of CareScribe.

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If you haven’t haven’t heard of
us before, CareScribe is a Bristol based assistive technology

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company. Myself and the two other founders, Chris and Tom, are all
neurodivergent as are many of our team. And as a company we spend every

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day working to support disabled and neurodivergent individuals to
work and study independently.

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And we do this by building technology and software tools,
some of which you may have heard of before such as Caption.Ed and TalkType.

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‘What are they?’ I hear you ask.
So, Caption.Ed is a piece of captioning

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and note-taking software designed to help people
better comprehend and retain a huge amount of information

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that are thrown at us every day in our busy lives.
Probably sounds very familiar.

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Of course, that’s of tremendous value to a wide range of people
with a wide range of disabilities and neurodivergent profiles.

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For those who are maybe deaf, or have hearing loss,
who maybe struggle to comprehend what’s being said as it’s being said –

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– to those like me who are dyslexic, or have ADHD or ASD who maybe
have similar difficulties or find it hard to focus and retain

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information as it comes at them. Or even those who maybe have a
motor impairment and find it difficult to get thoughts down in a

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timely manner. The software’s there to support you
to, as I say, better comprehend and retain some of that information.

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So that’s Caption.Ed. And our other software that I mentioned was TalkType,
which is our dictation software which helps people

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to convert their thoughts into text,
something that a wide range of people find very challenging,

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including myself, for a wide range of reasons.

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If that sounds of interest and you want to find out
any more about our assistive technology, or CareScribe,

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then feel free to pop a message in the chat or
in the feedback at the end of the webinar, and we’ll get you set up with a demo.

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Or there’s lots of information on our website of course, too.
Brilliant. A little bit of housekeeping just

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before we kick off and I introduce Jess. Captions are available

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for your Zoom . I can see people have already enabled them. But
if you haven’t yet and you need to enable them then please do

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enable them within your zoom. And as I mentioned the chat
is very much encouraged. So keep it coming. Lots of nice

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intros there and and there’s also the Q&A function which is more for
questions. So we will try and answer your questions usually at the end.

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So if you’ve got a burning question stick I
t in the Q&A and we’ll pick it up at the end.

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Our team’s on hand to take any questions that
are in the chat and move them across as well, if we can.

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But to avoid us missing it pop it in the Q&A if you can remember.

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If you see a question and you think “I definitely want that answered” then do upvote it
because you can upvote other people’s questions.

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And finally, there’s no wrong questions.

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This is a very safe place to learn. So
please ask them. Don’t hold onto things.

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You’ll be glad to know this session is being recorded,

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So look out for an email from
CareScribe, on LinkedIn, an email from CareScribe or it’s also on

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LinkedIn from tomorrow, and we’ll also include Jess’s slide deck along
with the recording which will come in handy. Skill Sessions as I

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mentioned, we run these quite regularly and we’ve got regular monthly
webinars that you’re welcome to join. Thank you everybody for joining

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today. We’ve got our next one in March. Which is Mark Woodward from
neurobox. And so he’s going to be helping us demystify access to

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work. So if you want to come along to that then please please do and
we’re also at the Dyslexia Show at the – think it’s in the middle of

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March actually. So if you’ve not heard of that to brilliant show look
it up, but we’re going to be there if you want to come and meet us in

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Okay. Well and without further ado and I think it’s time to introduce
you suggest and get started. So Jess is an expert in neuro

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diversity and inclusion with a passion for reframing the narrative
using storytelling and lived experience. She’s going to talk to us

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about the relationship between mental health and neurodiversity. So
I’m sure you can all join me in welcoming and as I sort of hand over

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to Jess. So over to you Jess.

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Thank you so much Rich. Thanks for having me really good to be here
and see so many people interested in such an important topic. So I am

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just going to share my screen with you which opefully has worked.
Let me know if there are any problems. So as Rich mentioned, my name

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is Jess Meredith my pronouns are she/her and I’m neurodivergent and I
run an organization called Differing Minds which supports

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organizations, schools, universities – anywhere that will have us to
promote neuroinclusion and to raise awareness of neurodiversity. But

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specifically today, as Rich mentioned I’m here to talk about the link
between neurodiversity or specifically neurodivergence and mental

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health. So, before we really get started, it’s really important for me
to issue a warning around this kind of content because obviously it’s

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a very sensitive topic. It’s very emotive and for some of you it may
be very triggering whether you’re expecting it to be triggering or

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not. So if you feel like it is too uncomfortable for you, it is
something that is triggering you too much – you do not have to sit

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through it, please feel free to step away. Please free to take
a moment or leave. As Rich mentioned, this is being recorded. You will

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have the chance to go back and watch the recording, maybe watch it in
smaller chunks if that’s easier for you. So it’s really important

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that I think everyone recognizes that because – it won’t all be
really dark but there are some things that that need to be talked

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about so that we all understand the situation that we’re in as a
society when it comes to neurodivergence and mental health.

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And alongside that really important for you to know that I don’t have a
medical background. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a therapist. I’m not a

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psychologist. I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m not any of these wonderful
professions. The experience I have is lived experience, and I’ve also

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learned from many people I have the pleasure of working with and
knowing within the neurodivergent community through their lived

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experience. I also have some degree of knowledge of neuroivergence from
A medical perspective, but I’m not a medical professional. So there is

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nothing in here that should be misconstrued as medical advice and
just to set expectations. I am certainly not going to tell you how we

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eradicate mental health difficulties for neurodivergent people. What
my focus is on is making sure people understand the link better and

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people know what we can all do, the small part we can all play in our
roles as colleagues or broader members of society to support

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neurodivergent people perhaps through mental health difficulties, or
support them so that they don’t experience mental health difficulties

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to the degree that they might do if they didn’t have this kind of
awareness and support.

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So again important for me to really make sure everyone understands
what we’re talking about when we’re talking about neurodiversity. So

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I won’t go into the details about what neurodiversity is in any great
depth. But what I do want to do is make sure we all kind of have a

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shared understanding especially around the framing of neurodiversity
as I see it. So when we’re talking about neurodiversity we’re

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essentially talking about the diversity of our brains. Neuro Diversity.
So by definition that includes all of us because we all

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have unique brains. We all have diverse brains. We all have these
different ways of thinking. But for the purposes of kind of

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understanding, especially this link with mental health, it’s useful
to categorize. Now we love categories as a society. We love

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categories. So it’s useful to categorize into two groups kind of
within the umbrella that everybody exists under. And you would say

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that those that exist in the kind of neuro majority – so for the
majority of us whilst all of our brains are different, they largely

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are the same. They fundamentally see the world and experience
the world in a similar way, when you think specifically about some of

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these differences. So executive functioning, social interaction
sensory processing, communication, information processing, attention,

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there is more. All those that stick within the neuro majority experience
these things and experience the world in similar ways. But we have a

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smaller group of people whose brains are more fundamentally
different. So again, we’re all unique, but there are some people

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within the population, of which I am on,e whose brains are more
fundamentally different, and we experience the world in quite a

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significantly different way to the majority of people. So for the
purposes of this session, I will use the terms ‘neurotypical’ to

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describe those in the neuro majority and ‘neurodivergent. to describe
those in the neuro minority. But those terms are not universally

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accepted. So they’re the terms that I prefer to use and other terms
that a lot of the neurodivergent community choose to use but they’re

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not what everybody chooses to use. Some people will prefer terms such
as ‘neurodiverse’, ‘neuro a-typical’, ‘neuro distinct’, ‘neuro spicy’, ‘neuro

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sparkly’ is one I have recently heard. There are so many different
terms and it’s really vital that we all respect an individual’s

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preference in terms of terminology. And that and understanding that
has a really significant impact actually on somebody’s mental

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And when I’m talking about those people who were neurodivergent, what
I’m talking about is people who may or may not have these types of

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differences. So here on the screen is a non-exhaustive list of some
of the differences that sit within the neurodivergent umbrella and

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I say non-exhaustive because to be honest, there is no definitive
list of what goes under that umbrella. There is lots

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of debate within the community about what should or shouldn’t go
into that umbrella. And whilst I think categorization is really

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useful, actually, I think we should worry far less about how that
categorization works and what labels or what differences or what

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conditions sit under the neurodivergent umbrella, and I think we
should spend our time focusing on how we support everybody how we

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understand everybody, and embrace everybody, regardless of their neuro
type. That’s where I feel like our efforts should go. So I wanted to

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make sure that we all have that kind of similar understanding.
I’ts complex. There’s lots of nuance to this. So you may have

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slightly different opinions, you might have a different perspective
on it, but this is how I like to kind of frame things and think about

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So to go into the core topic of this session – so the link between
neurodivergent and mental health.

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I’m going to share some facts in a second on the next slide which are
quite alarming. They are quite – they can be very distressing. They’re

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quite disturbing. So again, if this is something that is going to be
difficult for you to hear, you’re very welcome to step away. It’s

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really difficult as a neurodivergent person to think about these
things. It’s very difficult as a parent or a carer of a

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neurodivergent person. It’s very difficult as a close friend or family
member of a neurodivergent person. So, please please be aware. But

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the next part I’m going to share is as difficult as it gets in
this session and we will move on after that to talk about what we can

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all do to actually improve things.

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So some difficult things to talk about. We know through research and
through peoples lived experience that neurodivergent people have poorer

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physical and mental health outcomes than their neurotypical peers. So
not only is this about mental health difficulties, which forms

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the basis for most of this session, but they also have a higher
prevalence in terms of physical health difficulties to and sometimes

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those things can be interlinked which you’ll understand a little bit
more as I go on to talk a bit more about my story. We know that

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autistic people are likely to die 16 to 30 years sooner than their
age and gender matched peers. They’re allistic peers. So their

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non-autistic peers. As a parent of an autistic child that is such a
difficult thing for me to hear and understand but it’s the reality of

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the situation. 30 years younger is such a huge amount and obviously
this doesn’t exist for every single autistic person. But this just

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shows the difference in the outcomes for autistic people versus
Allistic people. We know that again, autistic people and more broadly

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neurodivergent people have a higher likelihood of dying by suicide or
attempting to die by suicide. And actually there is research that has

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recently been done that has shown that they research people who had
recently died by suicide who weren’t diagnosed as autistic, and by

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looking through their kind of history, their medical history, speaking
to their family members, they were able to see that whilst

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they could never diagnose these people as autistic or not, because
those people aren’t around anymore, they were able to show that

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actually they scored pretty highly for autistic traits. So it’s
actually likely that the higher rates of dying by suicide for

00:17:19.900 –> 00:17:25.099
autistic people actually could be even higher but it’s just that we
don’t know, we haven’t diagnosed everybody.

00:17:27.400 –> 00:17:37.599
And we know that neurodivergent people experience higher levels of
isolation and loneliness. And when you feel isolated socially and from

00:17:37.599 –> 00:17:47.700
the community and you experience that extreme level of loneliness,
that obviously has a significant impact on your mental health. So

00:17:47.799 –> 00:17:53.799
there is a big link between neuroivergence and difficulties
surrounding your mental health.

00:17:58.400 –> 00:18:11.700
To bring that to life a little bit, I want to talk a little bit about
what happened to me. So when I was 10 I had shingles and you’ve

00:18:11.700 –> 00:18:21.200
probably heard of shingles and you’re probably very aware that shingles
is something that usually people over the age of 60 get. But I was

00:18:21.200 –> 00:18:33.299
10. And when you Google ‘shingles in young people’ ‘shingles in
children’, you will get met by a barrage of results that say it’s

00:18:33.299 –> 00:18:43.599
extremely rare in children. So as a ten-year-old, I remember sitting
with the doctors and my parents, who were so confused that I had this,

00:18:43.700 –> 00:18:50.799
it was very obviously shingles. I had it through from my chest all
the way through to my back. And for those of you that have had it you

00:18:50.799 –> 00:19:02.000
will appreciate that it can be extremely painful. It is very very
tiring, you suffer a lot from exhaustion, but my parents and the

00:19:02.000 –> 00:19:09.000
doctors just couldn’t really understand why I had it as a 10-year-old.
And the doctors came to the conclusion that it was as a result

00:19:09.000 –> 00:19:22.500
of stress. Now I was 10. I had a very happy home life. I came from a
very privileged background upbringing. I had friends. I was doing

00:19:22.500 –> 00:19:33.599
seemingly well at school. I wasn’t experiencing any obvious trauma.
So there was no reason anyone could really understand about why I was

00:19:33.599 –> 00:19:43.400
experiencing that level of stress that would lead me to have shingles
at such a young age. And I remember vividly sitting in meetings with

00:19:43.400 –> 00:19:50.900
my parents, the GP, teachers, my head teacher at the time, which is
daunting as a ten-year-old, because people just didn’t really know

00:19:50.900 –> 00:20:03.000
what was going on. But what we didn’t know back then and I didn’t
find out until years later is that I have ADHD. So as a ten-year-old,

00:20:03.299 –> 00:20:11.799
I was experiencing the world in a completely different way to the
majority of my peers, but I didn’t know that about myself. Other

00:20:11.799 –> 00:20:22.000
people didn’t know about me. So it was having this really really big
impact. What was going on in my mind was so complex to me, so busy to

00:20:22.000 –> 00:20:30.900
me, I couldn’t distinguish from what I really needed to focus on
because I had too much going on in my mind. And I have a real

00:20:30.900 –> 00:20:40.299
difficulty with the term ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder – and not only does it have a double negative, but the deficit

00:20:40.299 –> 00:20:48.599
part of attention doesn’t resonate with me at at all. The way I see it
is I have dynamic attention. I have so much attention to so many

00:20:48.599 –> 00:20:56.599
different things. What I find difficult is distinguishing what’s
relevant information for me at any given moment in time from

00:20:56.599 –> 00:21:05.200
irrelevant information. So in the context of work, I might be being
asked to do something and I know that’s what I need to do, but I’ve

00:21:05.200 –> 00:21:14.799
got too much going on in my brain. So I just almost physically can’t
do what I know I need to do. So all of that going on for me as a

00:21:14.799 –> 00:21:21.599
ten-year-old child, but not understanding that other people weren’t
experiencing this was leading to some real difficulties.

00:21:23.700 –> 00:21:33.000
And I want to do an exercise with you now, which I think goes some
way to showing what I was experiencing back then and still experience

00:21:33.000 –> 00:21:37.900
to this day as an adult because things haven’t changed if you have ADHD,
you have ADHD.

00:21:40.099 –> 00:21:48.200
So in a minute, I’m going to show you a grid that looks somewhat like
this. So for those of you that can’t see it, what we’re looking at

00:21:48.200 –> 00:21:59.599
right now is a grid of words and those words spell out colours. But
those words are also written in a colour. And the colour that it’s

00:21:59.599 –> 00:22:07.000
written in is different to what the word says. And in a minute what I
want everybody to do you can say out loud or you can say it in your

00:22:07.000 –> 00:22:16.500
head, whatever works best for you. I want you to go through that grid
from top left to bottom right and I want you to say the colour that

00:22:16.500 –> 00:22:26.400
you see, not the colour that you read. So just to make that really
clear on this one. So on the left hand side here, we have the word

00:22:26.400 –> 00:22:35.400
blue but it’s written in red. So what you would say is ‘red’ and on
the right hand side we have the word blue written in black. So what

00:22:35.400 –> 00:22:43.799
you would say is ‘black’. So I’m going to go on to the next screen in a
minute and I want you to try and do that for yourself. See how far

00:22:43.799 –> 00:22:53.500
you get but most importantly realize how it’s making you feel, and I’d
love for you to share in the chat how you’re finding it, what that’s

00:22:53.500 –> 00:22:57.799
like for you. So are you ready? Go.

00:23:18.599 –> 00:23:26.900
So hopefully that’s given you a chance to kind of experience that and
there’s some great words coming through here: ‘challenging’,

00:23:26.900 –> 00:23:39.200
‘discombobulating’, ‘stressful’, ‘my brain ached’. Absolutely. So requires a
lot of concentration. So this to me – ‘panics’ – brilliant perfect words,

00:23:39.200 –> 00:23:48.200
exactly, exactly, how I feel like I experience things. So in that
exercise it simulates what it’s like when you know what you need to

00:23:49.099 –> 00:23:57.599
Do, you know rationally know, logically what you need to do, but
subconsciously your brain is almost fighting against itself and you

00:23:57.599 –> 00:24:07.099
can’t help that extra information coming in. Now interestingly, I did
this exercise with a group last week. And one of the people in the

00:24:07.099 –> 00:24:13.599
group was dyslexic and they actually said ‘this is really easy for me
because you basically told me I didn’t need to read and I find

00:24:13.599 –> 00:24:22.599
reading really hard, so it was so easy for me to do’ and it just shows
us that that’s an added dynamic, I think, to this exercise which shows

00:24:22.599 –> 00:24:32.700
that we’re all good at different things. We all experience seeing
things differently, but I hope that goes some way to showing what it

00:24:32.700 –> 00:24:42.000
was like or what it is like for me, what it was certainly like for me
as a ten-year-old child who had all of this stuff going on in their

00:24:42.000 –> 00:24:48.500
brain, had all of this information coming, this sensory information,
this actual kind of verbal information, and trying to process signals

00:24:48.500 –> 00:24:55.599
that you’re trying to process, everything is coming at you and it’s
exhausting to try and work through all of that to just navigate your

00:24:55.599 –> 00:25:05.599
life. Kind of, to exist at school as a, you know, I was very compliant. I
really wanted to conform I really wanted to do my best. So it was

00:25:05.599 –> 00:25:11.400
exhausting and that exhaustion led to extreme stress which led
to a case of shingles.

00:25:13.500 –> 00:25:25.500
But that’s what – that’s my story, right, as one neurodivergent person.
But there are many different stories in the neurodivergent population

00:25:25.700 –> 00:25:34.099
relating to mental health difficulties. For some it’s stress for
others, it may be depression for others, it may be anxiety. It could

00:25:34.099 –> 00:25:45.900
be a whole host of different things. So what I want to do now is I
want to talk about what are some of the reasons that these poorer

00:25:45.900 –> 00:25:54.900
mental health outcomes exist and persist in our society for neurodivergent
people, beyond what I’ve talked about in terms of my story.

00:25:57.700 –> 00:26:10.000
So firstly, we have so many social expectations or social norms that
work for neurotypical people, that are quite easy for neurotypical

00:26:10.000 –> 00:26:20.299
people to understand and it’s not so easy for neurodivergent people.
So when when you know that these norms exist as a neurodivergent

00:26:20.299 –> 00:26:27.099
person, you can almost sort of go down two paths, there’s more but
in a binary way, let’s think about these kind of two paths.

00:26:27.700 –> 00:26:34.400
One path is ‘well, I’m not going to meet these social
expectations and these social norms’ it maybe through

00:26:34.400 –> 00:26:42.200
choice, because I don’t want to I want to do things my way or maybe
because I can’t. My needs are just so much that I need to just

00:26:42.200 –> 00:26:52.700
be me in this society. What that can lead to is people not
understanding you, thinking that you are odd, wrong, different, not

00:26:52.700 –> 00:27:02.599
necessarily in a good way. The other path is the path that I took
which was I’m going to try and fit in I’m going to cover up who I am.

00:27:02.799 –> 00:27:08.500
I’m going to try and learn these social expectations and norms
through copying people and through watching what other people are

00:27:08.500 –> 00:27:18.799
doing and I’m going to change a lot about myself. I’m going to mask
or suppress my neurodivergent traits in order to fit in. And what can

00:27:18.799 –> 00:27:26.900
happen is if you do that over a period of time, it’s exhausting. It’s
draining, its really debilitating. And it can lead to burnout. It can

00:27:26.900 –> 00:27:35.000
lead to leaving a job or it can lead to significant mental health
difficulties. So either two of those paths contribute to kind of poor

00:27:35.000 –> 00:27:41.599
outcomes in terms of mental health, either perhaps from a self-esteem
perspective because people just don’t understand you because you

00:27:41.700 –> 00:27:48.700
don’t understand them and the social expectations, or because you are
masking so much that you’re exhausted, you’re burning out and you’re

00:27:48.700 –> 00:27:50.500
experiencing real difficulties.

00:27:53.900 –> 00:28:05.099
There’s also a big lack of support out there and kind of even before
that, a lack of understanding. So as a neurodivergent person lots

00:28:05.099 –> 00:28:10.400
of people don’t understand you. Sometimes you don’t even understand
yourself and when you don’t understand yourself or people don’t

00:28:10.400 –> 00:28:16.299
understand you, it can lead you to feel broken. It can lead you to
feel like you don’t fit in that. There’s something wrong with you.

00:28:16.799 –> 00:28:27.000
When in fact actually there isn’t, it’s just that there’s this big
misunderstanding out there. So you you really want people to

00:28:27.000 –> 00:28:35.400
experience to some degree what you’re experiencing, but if you can’t
have that, which doesn’t exist really a lot of the time, you want

00:28:35.400 –> 00:28:42.099
people at least to understand and believe and listen to you
and understand what you’re saying, but that lack of support, not feeling

00:28:42.099 –> 00:28:50.400
understood, can lead to real difficulties with your mental health
either through kind of anxiety because you’re not really sure how to

00:28:50.500 –> 00:28:59.700
support people to understand you, or depression because life is
just hard not feeling understood and feeling like you’re broken, and

00:28:59.700 –> 00:29:02.500
it can certainly have big impacts in terms of your self-esteem.

00:29:05.200 –> 00:29:12.799
Unfortunately, we continue to live in a world where there are
negative associations and connotations with neurodivergence. There’s

00:29:12.799 –> 00:29:21.000
huge stigma that exists and there is a lot of ableism that exist in
our society. So when you’re surrounded by that all of the time as

00:29:21.000 –> 00:29:29.700
someone who then is diagnosed with a neurodivergent difference, it
inevitably is going to make you feel at some stage in your life bad

00:29:29.700 –> 00:29:36.900
about yourself. And that then can really lead to mental health
difficulties and so much of that is unnecessary. These negative

00:29:36.900 –> 00:29:44.700
connotations exist that don’t need to be there. So I mentioned even
around the naming before, ‘attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’.

00:29:44.700 –> 00:29:53.200
It’s very difficult to get that label put on you and the label itself
or the difference itself is not a bad thing. But you’ve been put into

00:29:53.200 –> 00:30:00.599
some society that views it as a negative thing. So it’s very
difficult to remove that negativity from how you view yourself.

00:30:00.599 –> 00:30:09.000
Especially if you are diagnosed as a child or perhaps you’re diagnosis as an
adult and it’s taken you such a long time to get there. There’s so

00:30:09.000 –> 00:30:11.099
much difficulty that exists around it.

00:30:13.900 –> 00:30:23.099
And then there’s a lot of bias in our systems relating to diagnosis, a
lot of bias exists unfortunately still in the diagnostic criteria

00:30:23.099 –> 00:30:34.400
because of biased research. And generally diagnosis is quite
inaccessible for a lot of people. So not only is it

00:30:34.400 –> 00:30:42.099
inaccessible because of the bias, but it’s inaccessible because of
the huge wait times we have on the NHS at the moment and also, you

00:30:42.099 –> 00:30:50.299
know, a lot of people don’t have access to a private diagnosis. So having
those barriers and then not being able to understand yourself, whether

00:30:50.299 –> 00:30:58.700
it’s because you don’t even realize you’re neurodivergent yourself in
the first place, or perhaps it’s that you do think you are but you

00:30:58.700 –> 00:31:06.700
can’t get that kind of – you can’t get it on paper. You can’t get
that recognition. And for some people that is really needed. For me

00:31:06.700 –> 00:31:13.500
having an ADHD diagnosis, I have always said this was one of the most
liberating experiences of my life because without that and without

00:31:13.500 –> 00:31:20.700
the confirmation of somebody else that what I was experiencing was
was true almost, can be very very difficult to deal with.

00:31:23.500 –> 00:31:35.400
And then I think we, most people realize now or many if not, most
people many people realize now that our education system has been

00:31:35.400 –> 00:31:43.400
developed with the neuro majority in mind. So if you aren’t part of
that neuro majority, you don’t necessarily fit into the education

00:31:43.400 –> 00:31:51.099
system and going through the education system is difficult for you. You might
be someone who naturally has a need to move but from the age of about

00:31:51.099 –> 00:32:00.299
four or five you’re taught that you have to sit still, you have to sit
at a desk. We were designed to move, but there’s so much more to it

00:32:00.299 –> 00:32:09.400
than that. So a lot of the ways that we are taught are through verbal
communication. But within the umbrella of neurodivergence exists

00:32:09.400 –> 00:32:15.900
developmental language disorder as an example, and those people with
developmental language disorders are going to find it extremely

00:32:15.900 –> 00:32:24.000
difficult to receive that verbal communication and those verbal
instructions. There’s so much in our education system that is not

00:32:24.000 –> 00:32:33.299
inclusive and that can lead to significant trauma for children. And
whilst the audience here is, you know many people that are working

00:32:33.299 –> 00:32:44.099
within workplaces, the education part of this impacts employment
and I believe if we don’t fundamentally change the education system,

00:32:44.099 –> 00:32:50.900
we’re always going to be fighting somewhat of a losing battle in the
workplace. Because when you’re trying to support your colleagues,

00:32:51.299 –> 00:32:58.700
through maybe some of these difficulties, you’re trying to understand
their neurodivergence and put what you can in place, they often

00:32:58.700 –> 00:33:05.799
have a lot of trauma from what’s happened before, so these two things
really need to be happening in parallel. But as you can see from

00:33:05.799 –> 00:33:14.299
this, there are so many reasons that explain why there’s this higher
prevalence of mental health difficulties for neurodivergent

00:33:14.299 –> 00:33:23.099
people and it’s not necessarily a direct impact of being
neurodivergent. So just because your brain is wired in that way

00:33:23.099 –> 00:33:31.200
doesn’t mean that your brain is more susceptible to mental health
difficulties. So much of this is indirect, because of all of these

00:33:31.200 –> 00:33:35.400
things that we that we experience as part of our society.

00:33:38.700 –> 00:33:46.799
So now I will start to lift this up. So if we know this, and I’m sure
there are lots of people on this webinar who are experiencing some of

00:33:46.799 –> 00:33:56.099
this. What can we do to try to change these outcomes? So as I
mentioned at the beginning, I’m not a doctor and there is certainly a

00:33:56.099 –> 00:34:02.799
medical angle to this as well. And I am certainly not here to tell
you how we’re going to eradicate mental health difficulties for the

00:34:02.799 –> 00:34:12.900
neurodivergent population. That’s not realistic. But what I can do,
is I can tell all of us some of the things that I think we can do to

00:34:12.900 –> 00:34:19.800
support people and to reframe our thinking around neurodiversity and
that reframe is so important.

00:34:21.900 –> 00:34:30.500
What I’m going to do now is I’m going to show you a video, and this
video helps us to understand that actually if we flip the narrative a

00:34:30.500 –> 00:34:36.900
lot of neurodivergence doesn’t need to be seen as negative. A lot of the
support that we put in place doesn’t need to be seen as an added

00:34:36.900 –> 00:34:47.400
extra. We really need to start to understand why we’re working in the
way that we’re working and how we look to change that. So this video

00:34:47.400 –> 00:34:55.500
comes with a little bit of a warning, that it uses autistic
stereotypes. Now the autistic stereotype exists as one way somebody

00:34:55.500 –> 00:35:03.500
can be autistic, but it’s not the only way someone can be autistic,
and I am a total advocate of that. But for the purposes of the video,

00:35:03.500 –> 00:35:09.900
we used autistic stereotypes just to try to illustrate the point. And
we’ve had the support of the majority of the autistic community on

00:35:09.900 –> 00:35:15.800
this, but I wanted to warn people in case they see that and they find
it a little bit triggering. I’m going to show you the video and then I’m

00:35:15.800 –> 00:35:18.400
going to talk to you afterwards about where it came from.

00:36:53.099 –> 00:36:58.400
So there’s just some more text that comes up here that just
reiterates that point I made at the beginning about how we use

00:36:58.400 –> 00:37:10.099
autistic stereotypes, but I really hope that you understand why we
use that to try and make this point. So this video, it was kind

00:37:10.099 –> 00:37:17.699
of built off the idea of the social model of disability. So for those
that aren’t aware of it, the social model of disability is a model

00:37:17.699 –> 00:37:23.400
that, its kind of being pushed by the disabled community at the
moment and it’s different from the more traditional model,

00:37:23.400 –> 00:37:33.199
which is the medical model of disability. So under the medical model
of disability, you would say that someone is disabled as a result of

00:37:33.199 –> 00:37:41.800
their impairment. So if you take a wheelchair user as an example,
because it’s easier for us to visualize with a visible difference, under

00:37:41.800 –> 00:37:52.199
the medical model you would say that person is disabled as a result
of not having legs, their back being broken, their legs not

00:37:52.199 –> 00:38:01.000
working, whatever it might be that their impairment is but under the
social model of disability, we say that someone is disabled as a

00:38:01.000 –> 00:38:09.400
result of their environment. So again, if you take a wheelchair user
as an example, under the social model of disability, that person is

00:38:09.400 –> 00:38:18.900
disabled as a result of a lack of access. So it’s relating to their
environment. So that person is disabled under the social model by a

00:38:18.900 –> 00:38:25.000
lack of lifts, a lack of ramps, a lack of whatever it is that stopping
them from accessing the community or workplace or whatever it

00:38:25.000 –> 00:38:36.099
might be that non wheelchair users can access. And it’s really,
this move towards the social model is really important because not

00:38:36.099 –> 00:38:45.599
only is it a more positive framing around disability and around
neurodivergence, but it also takes the onus away from the individual

00:38:45.699 –> 00:38:52.900
to need to change something about themselves, which often they can’t.
And it puts the onus on society or on workplaces or on whatever

00:38:52.900 –> 00:39:02.900
environment it might be to accommodate and to make
it accessible for everybody. Now there’s no – there’s other models too –

00:39:02.900 –> 00:39:11.599
and there’s no one model that works in every scenario and for every
individual but I think a framing predominantly through the lens of

00:39:11.599 –> 00:39:22.400
the social model of disability is such an important step in trying to
recognize how we lessen these mental health difficulties for

00:39:22.599 –> 00:39:31.900
neurodivergent people. Because if we start to see it far less as a
problem and just as a difference, it can be so much more positive for

00:39:31.900 –> 00:39:40.599
neuroivergent people. So we don’t immediately think about it being
something wrong with somebody and you know, what do we need to do

00:39:40.599 –> 00:39:47.000
over and above what we would do for other people. Actually, it’s just
a recognition of all we’ve kind of got it wrong in the first place.

00:39:47.199 –> 00:39:56.000
We kind of got it wrong by not including everybody and there’s a
brilliant phrase that I heard recently relating to neuroinclusive

00:39:56.000 –> 00:40:05.400
design of physical spaces, but I think it relates to everything, and
it says ‘If you design for the needs of the extreme, you meet the needs

00:40:05.400 –> 00:40:13.300
of the mean, but if you design for the needs of the mean you don’t
meet the needs of the extreme’. So what we’ve done historically is

00:40:13.300 –> 00:40:20.199
we’ve just designed with that neuromajority in mind, so we haven’t
been able to support everybody. But if you start to design with

00:40:20.199 –> 00:40:26.800
everybody in mind, the extremes in mind, which by the way, I have a
little bit of an issue with the term ‘extremes’, but I won’t go into

00:40:26.800 –> 00:40:33.699
that. You meet the needs of everybody, because a lot of these ways of
working, and I think I saw it pop up in the chat actually as the video

00:40:33.699 –> 00:40:41.199
was going, would work for so many people. You start to put things in
place that work for neurodivergent people, it has a positive impact

00:40:41.199 –> 00:40:41.900
on everybody.

00:40:44.800 –> 00:40:55.599
So what else can we do to really try to lessen again these kind of,
these mental health difficulties for neurodivergent people?

00:40:56.900 –> 00:41:06.199
It’s critical that we start to address, abandon, challenge, these
social norms that exist, that really we need to reframe as

00:41:06.199 –> 00:41:14.900
neurotypical social norms, because they’re not necessarily norms for
everybody and it’s not that the neurotypical way is right, and the

00:41:14.900 –> 00:41:23.000
neurodivergent way is wrong. It’s just that it’s all different. And so some
of these things for example are around eye contact. For a lot of

00:41:23.000 –> 00:41:32.500
autistic people eye contact is very very difficult, painful even. I
I know somebody who said that, you know, they see they see faces in

00:41:32.500 –> 00:41:38.599
so many different pieces that when they’re looking at a face, they’re
trying to piece all of that together and it’s physically painful for

00:41:38.599 –> 00:41:45.699
them. So, why would we force somebody to make eye contact just
because we perceive that to be a demonstration of

00:41:45.699 –> 00:41:55.800
politeness or confidence, when really it doesn’t matter. And I think
not only do we need to kind of remove these social norms from our

00:41:55.800 –> 00:42:03.800
society. Unfortunately, that that is almost impossible at least in the
short term. But what we can do as individuals is perhaps challenge

00:42:03.800 –> 00:42:12.099
other people when we notice there may be judging or considering
things from a social norm perspective. Because if you’re someone who’s

00:42:12.099 –> 00:42:19.300
experiencing that sort of misunderstanding of what’s happening
in this kind of social environment, it’s not that you’re wrong. It’s

00:42:19.300 –> 00:42:25.699
just that people don’t understand you as much as they
understand them. So I’m not sure if people have heard of the double

00:42:25.699 –> 00:42:34.800
empathy problem. The double empathy problem is brilliant because what
it says is for autistic people, who stereotypically are known to not

00:42:34.800 –> 00:42:44.000
be empathetic. I don’t believe this to be the case, but they are
double empathy problem says is actually that empathy problem lies on

00:42:44.000 –> 00:42:52.699
both sides. Neurodivergent people will really struggle to understand
neurotypical people but in exactly the same way, neurotypical

00:42:52.699 –> 00:43:00.199
people really struggle to understand neurodivergent people. So
it’s not that one is right and one is wrong. It’s just that neither

00:43:00.199 –> 00:43:10.000
can truly understand each other. So we really want to start, kind of
challenging people if we see the maybe talk for maybe even covertly

00:43:10.000 –> 00:43:16.800
kind of think about these social norms and judge people in the
workplace based on these social norms. If you see somebody that you

00:43:16.800 –> 00:43:24.699
think is acting strangely, communicating oddly, maybe it’s not
strange. Maybe it’s not odd. It’s probably just different and

00:43:24.699 –> 00:43:30.699
if it’s not harming anybody then it’s absolutely fine way to be
and exist in the workplace.

00:43:33.400 –> 00:43:40.300
The other thing I think is vital is that we adopt a strengths-based
approach. So within the workplace if you’re lucky enough that someone

00:43:40.300 –> 00:43:47.400
shares with you that they’re neurodivergent, you don’t want to
immediately say, ‘oh gosh, that must be awful. How is that

00:43:47.400 –> 00:43:53.199
difficult for you at work? What challenge does that present for
you? ‘. Whilst you might be coming from a really good place you’ve

00:43:53.199 –> 00:44:01.000
immediately made it a negative – you’ve kind of reconfirmed for them this
negative connotation that exists for neurodivergent people.

00:44:01.800 –> 00:44:08.599
What’s much better is to lead with strengths. First of all, thank them
for telling you, ‘thanks so much for telling me that I really

00:44:08.599 –> 00:44:14.900
appreciate it. If you’re comfortable and will really love to
understand a little bit more about that. Let’s start with what

00:44:14.900 –> 00:44:23.300
positives does that bring for you as a neurodivergent person in the
workplace?’. Because bringing out those strengths which neurodivergent

00:44:23.300 –> 00:44:31.099
people have is really important to boost confidence and self esteem
and make people realize that you are a safe person and you are far

00:44:31.099 –> 00:44:36.099
more positive than unfortunately the majority of society when it
comes to neuroivergence.

00:44:40.400 –> 00:44:48.699
Creating a safe environment is another really key step within the
workplace, to try and support people so they don’t end up in a

00:44:48.699 –> 00:44:59.300
situation where perhaps their masking is leading to mental health
difficulties, but how can you really do that? Firstly, really simply

00:44:59.699 –> 00:45:07.800
talk openly about neurodiversity in a positive way. So in a
neuroaffirmative way, in a positive way about

00:45:07.800 –> 00:45:17.000
neurodiversity, and to be really clear about this when I say I’m
positive about neurodiversity, I am positive about the huge benefits

00:45:17.000 –> 00:45:25.300
that exist because we all have different brains. I’m really positive
about the power of the difference that exists within our brains. I’m

00:45:25.300 –> 00:45:32.900
not necessarily saying, that I think being neurodivergent in a
neurotypical world is wholly positive, because it’s not. It’s challenges

00:45:32.900 –> 00:45:40.699
exist. That’s that’s the reality and I think sometimes we can get too
caught up in its overly positive, this kind of superhero narrative

00:45:40.800 –> 00:45:47.699
that actually we need to be more realistic about it. We exist in this
world in the way that it is, the difference is positive, but sometimes

00:45:47.699 –> 00:45:56.800
it can be really challenging. But I always say when I run sessions
like this or I do talks to use them as catalysts to go and start

00:45:56.800 –> 00:46:03.800
these conversations in your organization, in your workplace, or just in
your team or with one colleague. You know, next time you go into a

00:46:03.800 –> 00:46:09.500
team meeting or perhaps you’ve got to catch up with a colleague after
this say, ‘oh I went to this session – hopefully – a really interesting

00:46:09.500 –> 00:46:18.300
session on neurodiversity. I learned this. Did you know that? What do
you think about it? I’m trying to be more neuroinclusive ,like do

00:46:18.300 –> 00:46:26.300
you know anything that I could go and learn from?’. Just open up
that conversation, you don’t need to do know everything, people can get

00:46:26.300 –> 00:46:33.800
really caught up in ‘oh maybe I don’t know enough to be able to have
that conversation with people’. It’s simply about saying ‘I care about

00:46:33.800 –> 00:46:42.199
this. I want to know more. I am willing to support people, come and
talk to me if you want to,I’m going to go on my own learning journey and

00:46:42.199 –> 00:46:44.400
if you want to learn with me, let’s do this together’.

00:46:47.800 –> 00:46:55.599
Secondly be open-minded. So there are kind of a couple of aspects to this. I
mean open-minded in the sense that you don’t start to assume every

00:46:55.599 –> 00:47:03.300
neurodivergent person is the same. So if you’ve worked with an
autistic person before and somebody else tells you they’re autistic,

00:47:03.400 –> 00:47:10.599
you don’t want to assume that they need the same things. Because if
you make that assumption, you may be dismissive of what they’re actually

00:47:10.599 –> 00:47:18.599
trying to tell you, that’s going to have a real impact again on their
mental health. But also I mean open-minded from the perspective of just

00:47:18.599 –> 00:47:26.599
wanting to learn more. We are so lucky and we have access to so much
information in our society now that there’s almost no excuses to not

00:47:26.599 –> 00:47:35.199
learn about more about this. You could listen to podcasts, read books,
follow people on social media, whatever it might be, there’s so many

00:47:35.199 –> 00:47:42.900
ways that you can kind of continue on that learning journey and do it
with people at work. What’s really important to do is not put the

00:47:42.900 –> 00:47:49.400
onus on neurodivergent people that you work with to teach you. They
might want to ,they might be really happy to share some of their

00:47:49.400 –> 00:47:57.000
experiences, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to learn themselves.
Because expecting a neurodivergent person at work to relive their own

00:47:57.000 –> 00:48:04.500
experience and often trauma over and over again, in the name of
educating other people is sometimes not the right thing to do and can

00:48:04.500 –> 00:48:06.500
cause more distress than good.

00:48:10.199 –> 00:48:18.099
This one’s really important and I think we are moving towards
understanding that an equitable environment is more important than an

00:48:18.099 –> 00:48:28.800
equal one, but we’ve still got quite a long way to go with this.
So, we need to appreciate that everybody has different needs and

00:48:28.800 –> 00:48:36.699
therefore everybody needs different things. And if somebody is asking
for something different at work, it shouldn’t be seen as they’re

00:48:36.699 –> 00:48:44.599
asking for more or too much. We have to remember that social model of
disability video, just to realize that actually they’re only asking

00:48:44.599 –> 00:48:51.599
this because we got it wrong in the first place, and we didn’t enable
them to thrive in this workplace in the first place.

00:48:54.400 –> 00:49:03.199
And I think you can only truly support neurodivergent people at work
if everybody understands neurodiversity, so I believe really

00:49:03.199 –> 00:49:10.500
passionately that neurodiversity training should exist for all
employees because neurodivergent employees don’t exist in pockets in

00:49:10.500 –> 00:49:16.500
the organization. We are all working with people that are
neurodivergent whether we know or not. So it only takes one person

00:49:16.599 –> 00:49:24.000
to dismiss them, invalidate what they’re experiencing, make it seem
like they’re making a fuss, to contribute to real difficulties around

00:49:24.199 –> 00:49:24.900
mental health.

00:49:28.199 –> 00:49:39.300
But if you take one take away from today, I’d like it to be this. I
have a bit of an issue with the term ’empathy’ because I think

00:49:39.500 –> 00:49:48.800
especially, not with the term but with the focus on empathy, because I
think we can never truly empathize with everybody. How can we

00:49:48.800 –> 00:49:57.099
possibly truly understand what everybody else is experiencing when we
don’t live our lives through their skin, in their shoes. But what we can

00:49:57.099 –> 00:50:06.199
do is we can listen to them. And what we can do is we can believe what
they’re saying to us, whether we understand it or not. So I really

00:50:06.199 –> 00:50:13.699
encourage everybody to listen to neurodivergent people when they’re
telling you about their experience and whether you get it or not

00:50:14.000 –> 00:50:21.900
believe what they’re saying to you. Whether you can change it or not,
whether you can offer them the support that they need, validating

00:50:21.900 –> 00:50:26.900
their feelings and validating their experiences can be so incredibly

00:50:29.500 –> 00:50:37.400
Thank you so much for joining for this. I’m really aware, as I said
at the beginning, of what a sensitive and emotive topic this is. So if

00:50:37.400 –> 00:50:46.599
you have sat through it all, I’m really I’m really pleased and I really
hope that it was helpful. Amazing. Thanks so much, Jess, that’s

00:50:46.599 –> 00:50:56.199
fantastic. Lots of well, yeah, I’m sure you’ve started to see the
chat which has been pretty constant throughout, and yeah

00:50:56.300 –> 00:51:05.500
everybody I’m sure agrees with me that that was fantastic and has
taken a huge amount from it. And I’m sure there’s lots of questions

00:51:05.800 –> 00:51:14.000
people raised in the chat, but if you want to pop them in the in the
Q&A, then we can try and use a few minutes to to answer them.

00:51:14.199 –> 00:51:23.400
I can’t promise we’ll get to all of them. But if you, as I say, throw
things in the Q&A, and then we’ll sort of happily try and

00:51:23.699 –> 00:51:31.199
get through as many as we can. So and there’s just a quick
question here, but it’s probably something we can send over

00:51:31.199 –> 00:51:45.500
afterwards, was that there was a stat really early on around the life
expectancy for those with autism and it being much younger than

00:51:45.500 –> 00:51:51.099
otherwise and it was just where that was was from. If you know it off
the top of your head great, if you don’t know maybe we can get it

00:51:51.099 –> 00:51:58.099
afterwards. Yeah, it’s from an academic research paper which I can’t
remember off the top of my head, but I will share it with you and it

00:51:58.099 –> 00:52:05.599
can go out with any of your comms that come out after this.
Thanks, Jess, cheers, and so questions are starting to come in, so

00:52:05.599 –> 00:52:10.500
keep them going. and there’s a question here: other organizations
you’ve worked with which have impressed you in terms of their

00:52:10.500 –> 00:52:11.800
approach to neuroinclusion?

00:52:14.400 –> 00:52:22.599
Yes, there are and I think I get asked this question a lot actually
and one of the things I think I should say because I’m a very

00:52:22.599 –> 00:52:30.599
truthful person, is that I don’t think anyone is getting this
completely right at all. Yes, because even those that perhaps look

00:52:30.599 –> 00:52:37.599
externally like they’re getting it right. I know I get contacted by a
lot of people who are saying that actually the reality of the

00:52:37.599 –> 00:52:43.800
situation is quite different. The organizations that are doing this
right are focusing much more on what they can do internally before

00:52:43.800 –> 00:52:52.400
they started talking about it externally and because they actually care
about their employees. And the ones that are doing it right are

00:52:52.400 –> 00:53:01.099
also doing it slowly. So I talked a lot about slow, steady, sustainable
change for neuroinclusion because I think it’s totally unrealistic

00:53:01.099 –> 00:53:06.900
to think that you’re going to be able to change the mindset of all of
your employees, which is what needs to happen over the course of a

00:53:06.900 –> 00:53:15.699
few weeks, few months, because what you’re expecting for your employees
is to unlearn decades worth of societal expectations and societal

00:53:15.699 –> 00:53:23.599
norms and what we’ve all been taught. So the organizations that are doing it
Wel,l commit to it over the long term and put a kind of slow and

00:53:23.599 –> 00:53:33.699
steady plan into place. The other thing that I see organizations
doing really well, is when they appreciate that it’s very difficult to

00:53:33.699 –> 00:53:41.699
do unless you have leadership on board with it. You need people at
the top of an organization to buy into this, because that is how your

00:53:41.699 –> 00:53:50.800
culture changes, that is how the values of your organization change.
And then after that it’s training up and getting managers to

00:53:50.800 –> 00:53:56.500
understand. Because if you have if you don’t do either one of those
two things, if your leaders are on board, but your managers

00:53:56.500 –> 00:54:02.000
don’t understand people might feel safe and they think ‘oh, yeah, this
is a great culture’ and then I tell my manager and they respond really

00:54:02.000 –> 00:54:09.400
badly, then that’s wiped out all of that good stuff. But also the
other way – if managers are kind of equipped, but actually the culture

00:54:09.400 –> 00:54:16.099
isn’t there, so the processes and the systems and the ways of working
generally aren’t in place, again it can be almost impossible for a

00:54:16.099 –> 00:54:23.099
manager to actually navigate and actually support in the best way. So
there there’s lots of people starting on in this journey. If you’re

00:54:23.099 –> 00:54:29.500
working in an organization you think ‘oh my organization is doing
nothing’, you are not alone. We are really at the beginning in terms of

00:54:29.500 –> 00:54:36.000
changing this and I think we’ve got decades to go to make these
changes but the organizations that are doing it well are making a

00:54:36.000 –> 00:54:44.599
commitment and are wanting to do things continuously over the long term
Can’t agree more Jess, thank you for that. That’s brilliant. And I

00:54:44.599 –> 00:54:51.199
think lots of people in the chat agree with that as well. So,
thanks for that. This might be something you’re aware of but,

00:54:51.400 –> 00:55:00.300
workplace passports, there’s a question here about workplace passports. Do
you think workplace passports for neurodiverse staff are helpful? My

00:55:00.300 –> 00:55:07.599
workplace is resistant, says Marion. That’s a shame because yes, I do.
I think they’re really good. And I don’t just think they’re good for

00:55:07.599 –> 00:55:16.000
neurodivergent people. I think they are good for everybody. It’s one
of the things that I think is such an easy, quick, win. If we all

00:55:16.000 –> 00:55:23.500
understood how to work with people or how they like to be worked with
better, it changes the game. I can see someone’s popped in here,

00:55:23.500 –> 00:55:29.400
‘what is a work-based passport?’. So I sometimes call them
getting-to-know-you documents, because I think ones I started doing

00:55:29.400 –> 00:55:38.699
this years ago actually and since then I’ve always used them. So it’s
basically like a set of information about you. Any information that

00:55:38.699 –> 00:55:45.900
you want to share about how you like to work with people, how you
maybe like to communicate, lots of organizations are doing this in

00:55:45.900 –> 00:55:51.900
different ways. Maybe what equipment might be useful for you, whatever
it could be, that’s kind of documented somewhere that anybody can see

00:55:52.199 –> 00:56:01.699
to to know how best to work with you. And I wrote a post on
LinkedIn last week if anyone wants to go and check it out, which I

00:56:01.900 –> 00:56:08.099
did not realize was going to be so popular but it was basically along
this lines, and it was 22 questions that I think a manager should

00:56:08.099 –> 00:56:14.000
ask any of their new employees and it’s around
you know, what their communication style is, how they like to be in

00:56:14.000 –> 00:56:22.000
meetings, lots and lots of different things, and so many people said,
well that’s not just useful for neurodivergent people. That’s

00:56:22.000 –> 00:56:28.199
useful for everybody, and that is exactly what you would get in a
passport and I think it should exist for every individual in every

00:56:28.199 –> 00:56:34.599
organization. I think it makes life easier for managers, makes life
easier for the colleagues of that person and it certainly makes life

00:56:34.599 –> 00:56:43.199
easier for the person. So I’m sorry for that person that is meeting
resistance in their organization. I don’t know why that would be to

00:56:43.199 –> 00:56:47.300
be honest because I don’t see any negatives with having that kind
of information available.

00:56:49.800 –> 00:56:56.599
Absolutely. Fantastic. Thank you. Thank you for that, Jess and there’s
lots of questions and I’m aware of time, so we won’t manage to get

00:56:56.599 –> 00:57:03.800
through them all unfortunately, so, please feel free to upvote
questions. The next one and you may you may or may not know this,

00:57:03.800 –> 00:57:12.300
Jess, any stats for women with ADHD and life expectancy that
you’re aware of? I don’t know specifically actually, but it’s a very

00:57:12.300 –> 00:57:22.300
good question. I think given the more recent understanding of women
And ADHD, I’d be surprised if there’s actually in depth research yet that

00:57:22.300 –> 00:57:29.199
shows that, I think that should come, and I think it might be quite
quite shocking for people. I think there’s so much to for us to still

00:57:29.199 –> 00:57:31.500
learn more about in terms of ADHD and women.

00:57:33.599 –> 00:57:42.900
Absolutely. Interesting question from Ryan. So Ryan says: I’m
an American so the information might differ, and but in your

00:57:42.900 –> 00:57:49.199
opinion, what do you believe is the lowest bar companies should have
for neuro – well any accommodations?

00:57:52.500 –> 00:57:54.000
That’s a really tough question. That’s really broad.

00:58:02.400 –> 00:58:12.500
I think the lowest bar is almost not allowing people to talk about it.
Not allowing people to share and I actually see this happen all the

00:58:12.500 –> 00:58:21.800
time. I see people opening up about neuroivergence and their own
identity and being dismissed and wiped off the table before they can

00:58:21.800 –> 00:58:27.900
even talk about it. And I think if your organization is in that
situation with a large number of the employees or managers then that’s

00:58:27.900 –> 00:58:36.500
a pretty bad state for us to be in. Because you’ve got to
get over the hurdle of being able to talk about it to be accepted, and

00:58:36.500 –> 00:58:42.199
then the support. The support’s almost the thing that comes like right at
the end and when I’m talking about support, I just want to be really

00:58:42.199 –> 00:58:48.900
clear that not I’m not necessarily talking about really expensive equipment
or all these huge changes. Sometimes it’s just someone autistic

00:58:48.900 –> 00:58:55.300
saying, I really can’t handle unexpected phone calls. So please can
you not call me without letting me know about it in advance? It can

00:58:55.300 –> 00:59:03.900
be so simple, but often you can’t even get to that point. Absolutely
and well, thank you for and your answers Jess, and for all your

00:59:03.900 –> 00:59:08.199
questions, there’s lots of questions we haven’t got to. What we tend
to do is try and take them away, answer them, and get back to you. So

00:59:08.199 –> 00:59:17.099
we will endeavour to do that, but it is time to wrap up
unfortunately. So, I’m sure you’ll all join me in thanking Jess

00:59:17.099 –> 00:59:25.900
for her brilliant talk, that was really enjoyable and
yeah, incredibly enlightening, and thank you to everyone for

00:59:25.900 –> 00:59:33.400
participating. It’s kind of just amazing to see how
this community’s formed and to watch the chat, everybody

00:59:33.400 –> 00:59:41.500
interacting and you’ve all kind of contributed to that. So yeah, it’s
just like amazing to see, so please come to our next events and

00:59:41.500 –> 00:59:49.300
do the same. But yeah, thank you for joining today. It’s heartwarming to see,
and there’ll be a CPD

00:59:49.300 –> 00:59:56.599
certificate and for everybody who’s joined, we’ll get the session
recordings out both over email and on LinkedIn. So look out for that

00:59:56.699 –> 01:00:01.900
and just to plug again, we have our next Skill Sessions
On Thursday the 7th of March and it’s all around

01:00:01.900 –> 01:00:08.699
demystifying access to work. So please come and join us for that again.
It’s going to be a really interesting conversation. So yeah,

01:00:08.699 –> 01:00:15.699
please join and as I said, if you’re not aware of and the
dyslexia show in March look it up. We’re going to be there and it would be

01:00:15.699 –> 01:00:24.800
lovely to see some of you in person. And then the final thing just to
mention is, we’ve actually put out an e-book today on

01:00:24.800 –> 01:00:32.199
helping neuroinclusion in the workplace. So it’s on LinkedIn. I’m
sure we’ll probably be sending it out by email as well. But yeah have a

01:00:32.199 –> 01:00:39.400
look at it because it’s something we’ve been working on for a while
and it’s free and widely available. So yeah, please look that up. But

01:00:39.400 –> 01:00:44.900
yeah, that’s it. We’re over time. Thanks so much everybody and really
great to see you, and have a great rest of your day.