Embracing Neurodivergence: How exposure to difference makes us smarter as a species


I am glad to live in a progressive generation where most workplaces appreciate the importance of being diverse and inclusive when it comes to age, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. However, the idea of a neurodiverse workplace - where people who think differently are accepted, appreciated and accommodated - is still very, very new. People with a neurodiversity are an estimated 10 to 20 percent of the population. So what is neurodivergence? It is a term that is used to describe a number of neurological differences in the human brain. This term includes people who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia as well as Bipolar Disorder, OCD, Tourette’s syndrome and a few others.


What are the advantages to being inclusive and welcoming, better yet, purposefully inclusive of people with a neurodivergence in the workplace? There are several reasons this is a positive endeavor. Neurodiverse people have a different way of thinking, are often creative, can focus on specific details or aspects of a situation or problem that others may not recognize. When you are surrounded by people who are the same as you, have the same ideas, share the same values you never have the opportunity to experience difference. That lack of difference leads to a subconscious submission to “groupthink”. Some of the most dangerous movements and events in the world are a reflection of the “groupthink” and are products of group behavior. Following along with the majority is not necessarily the best way forward.


The exposure to different people, views, beliefs and ways to approach a situation challenges you to think differently, reflect on your own views, values, biases and approaches to various situations. People with a neurodivergence bring many positive skills to school and the workplace. They can be be rule-followers, and logical thinkers, have highly specialized skills that are consistent over time once mastered, bring a “different perspective”, can have a highly regarded sense of fairness, ethics and can be very passionate about their work and interests while others can have great verbal communication skills are lateral thinking, good strategic analysts and are creative and innovative.


In most industrialized nations there are laws to ensure that people with a disability or are neurodivergent are not discriminated against and are treated equally under the eyes of the law. However, employers are gaining a better understanding for how to ensure that they attract more people with neurodivergence because of the ways in which it enhances, challenges and improves their work communities.


For more information on why embracing diversity and inclusion are important and how this is changing the workplace please attend the Parent Inspiration Program series on that very topic. The Future of Work: Inclusion and Diversity. How parents can prepare for this evolution by Amy Fernando - Head of PR and Business Development at SENsational Consultancy will address our parent and local community on April 10th from 7-8pm at the Grove. This talk is open to the community at large in addition to parents and families of The Harbour School.


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