Neurodiversity in Transformation: How Best Practice is Best For All - Event Round Up

Last month, our very own Senior Consultant Aidan Ryce hosted a brilliant webinar alongside Portfolio Management Specialist Natasha Keegan on Neurodiversity in Transformation: How Best Practice is Best For All.

The session saw Natasha share a swathe of insights with our attendees, including what neurodiversity is, quick wins that businesses can implement to support their neurodiverse teams, and Redki’s three Cs to best practice.

We’ve collated some of the highlights from the webinar in this event round-up below, but if you don’t want to miss any details, you can watch the entire session here.

Neurodiversity – what is it? 

“The key piece I'd like to call out here, which has often gotten misled and confused, particularly in the media, is that it's not a personal choice. I can't choose what I remember and what I don't. I can't choose my type of behaviour, and that's because our brains are literally different.”Natasha.

As a project management professional who has ADHD, Natasha is better equipped than most to speak on neurodiversity in the workplace, especially when it comes to transformations.

Before delving into the details of the topic, Natasha provided a succinct definition of what makes someone neurodiverse – “it’s anyone whose brain doesn’t sit within the neurotypical range, i.e. having the characteristics and neural pathways associated with an “average” person.”

This can include people with ADHD, autism, PTSD, dyscalculia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or a mix of all of them.

While these can all present themselves in various ways and to varying degrees, all of them fall somewhere on the neuro spectrum that is outside the neurotypical range. This means that you can’t tell who is and isn’t neurodiverse; it also means it can be very difficult to pick up on your own symptoms.

Natasha also mentioned that it's important to note that some people become neurodivergent due to trauma and that it’s not always something someone is born with.

This is especially relevant as a lot of people became neurodivergent after the global trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why do we hear so much more about neurodiversity now?

“We now have social media that has so many different types of content that it can appeal to all of those who are neurodivergent. You may not consciously realise that, but you might be following people who make more sense to you.” Natasha. 

With there being a 400% increase in ADHD assessment requests since 2020 and 1 in 7 people in the UK now believed to be neurodivergent, a lot of people are asking why neurodiversity awareness has skyrocketed in recent years.

Natasha believes it has a lot to do with emerging social media platforms and trends, as well as women who have been neurodivergent their entire lives reaching perimenopause, which can exacerbate certain symptoms.

On the first point, with new platforms like TikTok opening the avenue for short-form and informative content, many people are noticing that they may be more inclined to certain kinds of content, such as audio sensory and rapid information dumps, that don’t fit traditional layouts and lengths, especially for those with ADHD. This has led to some people seeking more information and tests to see if they’re neurodivergent or neurotypical.

For the latter point, in the past, and to some extent today, boys and girls who were neurodivergent were forced to adhere to social norms and expectations regarding their gendered behaviours.

For example, girls were told not to be as energetic and loud, so they’d often be mistaken for “daydreaming” because they found it difficult to maintain their concentration when not fully stimulated. Meanwhile, boys were given free rein to run around and be more boisterous when they weren’t stimulated.

When these women grew up and started perimenopause, which affects the brain, and how it works, a large number of them were concerned that they had dementia because their memory appeared to deteriorate quickly.

However, the reality was that they were and had been neurodivergent since they were children, but they hadn’t noticed because they were forced to mask the symptoms and never questioned why their brains may work differently from those who are neurotypical.

Quick wins that organisations can implement

 While it’s not always possible to tell who is neurodivergent, businesses can take steps to ensure that they feel comfortable in applying for roles with a particular company or team and that they can work in ways that are best for them.

One quick win is to mention in your job advertisements that you’re open to making neurodiverse accommodations and that neurodiverse candidates are welcome to apply. This may seem like a small gesture, but it can make all the difference for those with a particular way of working, especially as they would’ve been denied working in some organisations because of their “unorthodox” approaches.

Furthermore, some neurodiverse people struggle with eye contact and body language during interviews. The tricky part is that these same characteristics can also result in someone not being confident in their answers or their ability.

To help differentiate between these two, Natasha recommends providing interviewees with prep materials, such as tests and questions. This allows people to come prepared and will help you distinguish who may be neurodiverse.

On top of this, it’s great to have someone who is neurodiverse included in the interview process. They will be more likely to empathise with any candidates who are on the neurodiverse spectrum, allowing for a more egalitarian hiring process.

Once you have a neurodiverse team, it’s crucial to understand how everyone works and what the majority of your team needs to work comfortably. From here, you can create a framework for your team and then ask everyone if there are any particular accommodations that they would like to work most effectively.

This could be allowing some team members to utilise headphones to help with concentration, or it could be a designated safe space for people to go to if they begin to feel overstimulated or frustrated.

Finally, it’s great to have a system where neurodiverse people can see the names and faces of everyone they work with. This will help remind them who they’re meeting with and can eliminate any potential frustration from forgetting names for both neurotypical and neurodiverse people.


How to structure your meeting for neurodiverse people

Meetings can be very difficult for neurotypical people if they’re not structured correctly, let alone for those who are neurodiverse.

That’s why Natasha has shared a few great tips to help ensure your meetings run smoothly and as expected:

  • The Magic Five – It’s always the way that when a meeting is scheduled to start, some people will need to get ready, pop to the toilet or just arrive. By setting your meeting start time exactly five minutes after the scheduled time, you can remind those in attendance to get ready and comfortable so the remainder of the meeting can go ahead without a hitch.
  • Clear agenda and timings – Some neurodiverse people can get frustrated when timings aren’t adhered to; that’s why it’s crucial to have a clearly defined agenda so you can hit each point. This is even more important if it's within a regular meeting, which should follow the same structure each time. If there is anything that you need to add to the meeting, make sure you save it for AOB at the end; don’t disrupt the agreed schedule and timings.
  • The value of pre-reads – Before getting into the meat of a meeting, a quick pre-read can help jog everyone’s memory and ensure everyone is focused and zoned in.
  • Create a calm environment – Overstimulation is a very common symptom that neurodiverse people have to deal with. To help mitigate this, it’s great to have a meeting space that isn’t too dark or light and to ensure that any outside noise is kept to a minimum.
  • Fidget toys over laptops – It’s easy for busy professionals to get distracted in a meeting by an important email or request, especially for those with ADHD. Making sure that laptops are shut and providing your team with fidget toys can go a long way toward maintaining their concentration.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for focus – This is especially important on Zoom or Team calls where people can get more easily distracted by phones and laptops. If you see people losing focus, simply ask them to stop typing or looking at their phones; it’ll save you a boatload of time in the long run.

Natasha also shared some brilliant insights into best practices for neurodiverse and neurotypical people, especially with the application of Redki’s three Cs.

If you’re interested in hearing these valuable learnings straight from Natasha, you can watch the video of our webinar session by clicking here and filling in your contact information. This way, we can reach out to you when we’ve organised our follow-up session and share all the details with you.

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Aidan Ryce

28th May