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Jonathan Fielding / 10th November 2023 / ff conf Embracing Neurodiversity in Tech Building Empathy, Unveiling Strengths

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Every neurodivergent individual is di ff erent

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🖋 🛩

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Dyspraxia and Dyslexia Assessment Beamly Snyk RVU Autism Assessment Spendesk College University Crayon Education Early Career Later Years M&M jQuery UK London Ajax Talk Future Web Design Talk

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It was around this point where I learnt the word Neurodiversity

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So what is neurodiversity? MissLunaRose12 - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neurodiversity_Crowd_2.png

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“Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many di ff erent ways; there is no one "right" way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and di ff erences are not viewed as de fi cits.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-neurodiversity-202111232645

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When people brains work di ff erently from the norm they are referred to as neurodivergent

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It is estimated that around 1 in 7 people are neurodivergent

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Due to under diagnosis, there is a large number of people now seeking diagnosis as adults

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Neurotypical Neurodivergent

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https://www.voglblakeresearch.com.au/understanding-neurodiversity-the-strengths-challenges-and-support-needs-of-neurodivergent-individuals/

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Sometimes the symptoms a neurodivergent person might be hidden, this is referred to as masking

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Neurodiverse conditions Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

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Today I am going to be focusing on talking about 5 common neurodiverse conditions, ADHD, Autism, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia

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A lot of these conditions can co-exist

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ADHD

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ADHD https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-de fi cit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/symptoms/ Attention de fi cit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a diagnosis given to people who have challenges with: • inattention • hyperactivity • impulsivity

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ADHD Symptoms are categorised into two categories Inattentiveness • having a short attention span and being easily distracted • making careless mistakes • appearing forgetful or losing things • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions • having di ffi culty organising tasks https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-de fi cit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/symptoms/

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ADHD https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-de fi cit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/symptoms/ Symptoms are categorised into two categories Hyperactivity and impulsiveness • constantly fi dgeting • being unable to concentrate on tasks • excessive talking and interrupting conversations • being unable to wait their turn • acting without thinking • little or no sense of danger

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Stereotypes Reality Internalised hyperactivity like a busy, noisy mind Hyperactivity of running around the place Trying to work out social cues of when they can talk Interrupting conversations Thinking about 5/6 things simultaneously and unable to prioritise Unable to concentrate on tasks Making notes and reminders for that thing they absolutely must remember Being forgetful ADHD

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ADHD Short attention span Being able to rapidly change focus to new tasks Acting without thinking Being able to respond quickly in a crisis situation Impulsive Courage to try new things Reframing how we think about ADHD

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Strengths that can come from ADHD Creativity Hyper-focus Risk tolerance ADHD https://www.verywellhealth.com/bene fi ts-of-adhd-strengths-and-superpowers-5210520

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Recommended Support Systems ADHD Make short-term goals clear, and break down long-term goals into smaller goalposts where possible Support time management - con fi rm tasks, highlight important parts, reminders of deadlines in calendars Help them get started

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Autism

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Autism https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/what-is-autism/ https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/what-is-autism/ Autism is a diagnosis given to people who may have challenges with: • Communications and interactions with other people • Understanding how other people think or feel • Finding things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable • Getting anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events • Taking longer to understand information • Doing or thinking the same things over and over

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Autism Symptoms are broadly categorised into three categories • Communication and interaction with others • Interests and behaviours • Work and life impacting functions https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/what-is-autism/

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Stereotypes Reality Struggling with situations outside of what they have ‘prepared’ for Wanting things to be done their way or no way Autistic people have a wide range of abilities, strengths and skills All autistic people are savants or possess exceptional talents Di ffi culty interpreting social cues and situations can lead to isolation Autistic people prefer to be alone Expressing or processing emotions di ff erently does not mean a lack of Autistic people lack empathy or emotion Autism

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Autism Repetitive nature Analytical, good at spotting patterns Seemingly blunt or rude Uses a direct form of communication Seemingly uninterested in others opinions Reiterating their ideas to ensure they are properly understood Reframing how we think about Autism

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Autism Strengths that can come from Autism Logical and methodical thinking ability Attention to detail Passionate for their interests Accepting of di ff erences

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Autism Recommended Support Systems A clear routine and work schedule A personal desk, rather than hot-desking or shared desk space Reducing sensory distractions Make meetings clear in their focus

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Dyscalculia

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Dyscalculia Dyscalculia is a diagnosis given to people who may have challenges with: • Performing mathematical equations • Retaining numerical information • A lack of con fi dence with numbers • Poor time management • Giving or following directions https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/our-people/neurodiversity-at-cuh/dyscalculia/

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Dyscalculia Symptoms are categorised as a learning disability • the mathematical di ffi culties are not caused by lack of educational opportunities • the degree of di ff i culty is evidenced to be below expectations for the individual’s age. https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/our-people/neurodiversity-at-cuh/dyscalculia/

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Stereotypes Reality Counting and calculating slower does not mean you are unable People with dyscalculia can’t count Dyscalculia isn’t rare, with an estimated 5-7% of the population with it Dyscalculia is just an excuse for being ‘bad at math’ Neurological condition which a ff ects the processing of numerical information Dyscalculia is an intelligence problem Dyscalculia

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Dyscalculia Reframing how we think about Dyscalculia Slow to comprehend mathematical equations Processes information di ff erently Find it di ff i cult to give or follow directions Able to work closely with others to reach a solution together

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Dyscalculia Strengths that can come from Dyscalculia: Creativitive and artistic talent Innovative problem solving Good written and verbal communication skills

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Dyscalculia Recommended Support Systems Supply the fi gures before meetings where possible Use visual representations, such as pie charts Present only essential data Alerts to help with time keeping

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Dyslexia

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Dyslexia https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dyslexia/ Dyslexia is a diagnosis given to people who may have challenges with: • Reading and writing very slowly • Having poor or inconsistent spelling • Understanding information when told verbally, but having di ffi culty with information that's written down • Planning and organisation

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Dyslexia Symptoms are categorised as a learning disability • Occurs across a range of intellectual abilities • A ff ects reading, writing and information processing https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dyslexia/

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Stereotypes Reality Dyslexia makes it di ff i cult to decode and comprehend, not read Dyslexic people can’t read The type of instruction makes a di ff erence, not the e ff ort Dyslexics just need to try harder Dyslexic people are no more likely to have vision problems than others Dyslexia is a visual problem Neurological conditions don’t happen through lack of exposure Dyslexia is caused by ‘not reading enough’ Dyslexia

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Dyslexia Slow to read the same text as others Processes written content di ff erently Di ffi culty in note taking Learn to adapt how they keep track of information Reframing how we think about Dyslexia

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Dyslexia Strengths that can come from Dyslexia Good visual-spatial reasoning Strong imagination Think outside of the box Excel in areas that do not depend on reading, such as math and computers

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Dyslexia Recommended Support Systems Find out if there is a colour on which they can read best on Support important communications in more than one format Highlight key points in documents Explore supportive technology options

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Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia)

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Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/developmental-coordination-disorder-dyspraxia/ Dyspraxia is a diagnosis given to people who may have challenges with: • Co-ordination, balance and movement • Learning new skills, thinking and remembering information • Writing, typing, drawing and grasping small objects • Managing emotions • Time management, planning and organisational skill

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Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia) Symptoms are categorised into two categories Movement • Clumsy • Tire easily • Di ffi culty with writing and physical activities https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/developmental-coordination-disorder-dyspraxia/

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Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia) Symptoms are categorised into two categories Co-ordination • Bump into people or objects • Make a mess when eating • Have trouble with time management and planning https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/developmental-coordination-disorder-dyspraxia/

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Stereotypes Reality Carefully walking everywhere but still bumping into and tripping over things People with dyspraxia are just clumsy Struggles with fi ne motor skills does not equate a low intellect People with dyspraxia have low intelligence Trying to keep everything in order and still having no clear “organisation” People with Dyspraxia are just disorganised Di ffi culty with words and expressing yourself makes social situations harder Socially awkward Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia)

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Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia) Speak without thinking things through Literal and factual Appear as if they’re not listening Observing and making mental notes Di ffi cult to read writing Prioritises getting the information down Reframing how we think about Dyspraxia

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Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia) Strengths that can come from Dyspraxia Creative thinking Excel at problem solving Sensitive to the needs of others

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Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia) Recommended Support Systems Clear and concise instructions for tasks Break tasks down into parts to avoid overwhelm Give adequate time for learning new skills Alerts for meetings

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Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash In the workplace

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Make it clear that it is safe to share neurodiversities.

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Adapt how we carry out training

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Adapt hiring and interview processes

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Use clear, concise communication

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Assume best intent in communication

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Be mindful of their focus time

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Ensure there is adequate spacing between meetings

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Use language based on how the person refers to themselves

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Prioritise the needs of the few rather than the convenience of the many

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Fostering inclusion in the tech community Photo by Seb Lee-Delisle on Flickr

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Give people space

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Leaving room for new people when standing in a group is a physical way to show an inclusive and welcoming environment. It reduces the feeling of there being cliques, and allows people to integrate themselves into the community. https://www.ericholscher.com/blog/2017/aug/2/pacman-rule-conferences/ Eric Holscher

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If your organising an event, share as much information as possible in plain language

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Establish feedback channels

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Wrapping up

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Every neurodivergent individual is di ff erent

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Through having empathy, we can help our colleagues be at their best

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This will lead to our teams working in a more inclusive way

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Want to learn more, further resources at: www.jonathan fi elding.com/ ff conf

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