There’s no such thing as an average person

by Jun 18, 2021News

The third event in the City & Guilds Foundation I&D series was on Wednesday the 16th of June. This time the focus was on developing neu​ro-inclusive workplaces. The speakers were Prof. Amanda Kirby, founder of website DO IT Solutions and Helen Needham, founder of Me.Decoded.

If anyone missed it, here is a quick summary of some of the points covered in this brilliant session (Note: all of the points made in this post are originally from Amanda and Helen, who are the experts in this field, not myself; I’ve simply tried to capture them here accurately.)​

Neurotypical

There is an (inexact) bell curve which shows people who have difficulties or challenges in some areas; this could be things like numeracy, socialisation or motor function. At the other end of the curve are people who have a particular specialism for something. And the group in the middle are what society deem to be ‘neurotypical’. 

No-one is in one place on this curve. You could have someone who’s a brilliant footballer (excellent control of motor skills) but might find reading difficult. We are all a combination of the range of abilities and challenges within each of the areas that make people neurodiverse. There is no such thing as an average person!

Flipping the narrative

Historically, people with differences in their thinking were seen to have a disability. The language used around these differences always implies something is missing or deficient. But just like in animals, specialisms (the right beak for a certain flower) and behaviours (changing colour when under threat), from an evolutionary point of view, are things that have been retained because they are beneficial.

To think in a more inclusive way about neurodiversity; it’s important to move away from negative framing of things that affect the way people’s minds work. Take ADHD, for example: deficit thinking could lead you to assume that someone diagnosed with ADHD would be impulsive or easily distracted. Whereas, these same effects on the brain may mean that person is highly enthusiastic, creative and copes well with pressure.

Additionally, some or all of the typical characteristics of someone with ADHD might manifest differently or in a more pronounced way for different people. A diagnosis is not a definition, and although there might be shared traits that people with a similar diagnosi​s may share, that’s not an assumption we should make. 

Start a conversation

Challenges and difficulties only exist because of context. People may have impairments, but these only become disabilities based on environmental factors, which often can be adjusted. 15-20% of the population fall into the parts of the bell curve that are not seen as being neurotypical – and 80% of these people feel uncomfortable talking openly about the challenges they face.

Therefore, from an organisational point of view, it’s important to start by fostering a culture of openness. Using targeted recruitment as a first step can be short-sighted, because if you don’t already have the right culture to be inclusive of neurodiversity, then the people you’re targeting will have barriers to success when brought into your organisation.  

Think: at every stage of your own or your colleague’s life-cycle as an employee, have there been opportunities to talk about neurodiversity that don’t feel stigmatised? If not, is there more that could be done to help create these opportunities?

Consider asking people about how you prefer to communicate and if that is working for them. Check for understanding, instead of assuming that what you’ve said has been understood. When presenting, offer ways for colleagues to read the information before or after it’s been talked about.

If you shift focus from the idea of being inclusive for neurodivergent people and instead focus on how you can be inclusive of all ways of thinking, the result will be that, without creating confrontational or difficult pathways to talking about differences, the opportunities to have conversations and make adjustment will happen more naturally.​

Interested in making change? Make a pledge to building equity, claim a digital credential and share with your networks.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shaking up the cis-tem: LGBTQ+ inclusion

On Tuesday 22nd June I had the pleasure to attend the fourth webinar of the I&D series ran by the City & Guilds Foundation. The session's primary focus was how to best support members of the LGBTQ+ community bring their authentic selves to the...

Fair opportunities: employing prison leavers

The second in a series of I&D events hosted by the City & Guilds Foundation went live on Tuesday the 8th of June, this time focusing on inclusion in the context of employing people with lived experience of the justice system. This event featured...

Breaking down barriers: race inclusion

On Wednesday the 2nd of June, I attended the first in a series of I&D events being hosted throughout the month by the City & Guilds Foundation. This event, which was focused on the topic of race inclusion, featured an insightful...

There’s no such thing as an average person

The third event in the City & Guilds Foundation I&D series was on Wednesday the 16th of June. This time the focus was on developing neu​ro-inclusive workplaces. The speakers were Prof. Amanda Kirby, founder of website DO IT Solutions and Helen Needham, founder...

Youth Voices

It's been a busy few months, with lots of events happening and many opportunities to share mine & the Foundation's views on what we can do to support young people, especially those facing barriers, to engage with employment, now and into their future. Youth...

A warm welcome to our new Council Members

As part of its Royal Charter, City & Guilds has a Council, made up of external partners who provide advice and guidance on our work and are actively involved in how we serve the needs of our learners and employers. We are delighted to welcome our most recent new...

New bursary launched to help Londoners get back into work

Created in response to the impact of the pandemic on London’s labour market, the new £50K London Bursary Skills fund aims to remove barriers to help Londoners quickly upskill and find work Today, the City & Guilds Foundation – part of skills organisation City...

The impact of investing in learning and development

The Princess Royal Training Awards are one of the flagship Awards and Recognition programme of the City & Guilds Foundation. They are all about celebrating best practice. We are delighted that we received 97 applications in 2021. Of those 97 applications, 49 have...

The real impact of the pandemic on young people

Snow-Camp are the UK’s only charity using a combination of snowsports, life-skills training and mental wellbeing support to help young people from inner-city communities. Working at the indoor snow centres in London, the North West, the Midlands and Scotland, we also...

A partnership that’s making a real difference, to real people

The City & Guilds Foundation and The Educators’ Trust have teamed up to provide mental health first aid training for a team of advisors delivering vital services to vulnerable young people.  The training which also includes essential digital skills will be...
Share This