Neurodiversity and us - Part 2

Submitted by Tor Cavanagh on

Where we share our tips on embracing and supporting neurodiversity

Our Tips for working with Dyslexics and ADHD

Go with the flow with how dyslexics are describing something or questions they are asking - you may think they are going off at a tangent or starting from a weird place but they are likely to have identified something.  Well meant attempts to get us onto a particular thought path, go through everything in consecutive steps often messes up our thought processes and it’s really stressful.  Help fill in the detail and the unanswered questions once they have the big picture down.

If there are mistakes in writing don’t say ‘just read it through’ .  I will have - often several times.  If there are unfinished sentences, my brain went off to complete another vital bit of the thought process and forgot to finish it, just point it out to me.

If time keeping is non existent get a (very patient) person to manage diaries and check they are on track with tasks.

We can’t work in noisy offices and focus on one conversation/task.  Our senses will be sucking everything up and distracting us (for me open plan offices are hell on earth).

If we have brain overload, let us list everything and someone write it all down for us.

Remember we have had a life time of being told, we can’t write, we can’t do maths, ‘just read it through’, we are lazy and slapdash.  We can easily go into ‘fight or flight’ mode and all the old feelings of inadequacy kick in.

Amy’s Tips for employing someone with ADHD:

Give them space for creativity and social recovery, and trust that they will get the job done. Recognise that resilience, determination, humour and empathy go hand in hand with the distraction and forgetfulness so help them by making sure they write tasks down and put meetings and appointments in their calendar as soon as they’re arranged. When managing someone with ADHD ask if any task feels overwhelming. It’s often the smaller ones that seem insurmountable – the ones with lots of little steps. Want us to write a 6000 word proposal this afternoon? No problem! Want us to contact 4 people and arrange a meeting? Too hard. We need a list to break it down, so we can tick it off and not have to think.

And wherever at all possible, don’t ask us to make phone calls.

Tips overall

Fit work to peoples’ strengths not the other way round.  

Tiredness brings out the worst of our weaknesses but also makes it harder to deal with other people’s.  We need to be aware of this and when we need help from someone else to manage a situation or just to take a deep breath and stand back.

Final comment

We work as an effective team because we understand and accept everyone’s skills and limitations. As a team we encourage each other to say when we’re struggling, which can be so difficult after spending decades trying to cover up. For example, Amy is now the unofficial in house proof reader because Mary accepts that she’s no good at proof reading, and after a lifetime of making “careless” mistakes Amy works at super speed and proof-reads everything at least twice (OK, not everything, you’ll see those daft mistakes in emails, but bids are another matter!). Conversely, Mary will send Amy subtle messages when she’s 90% sure she’s forgotten something. And Tor is here to keep us all on the right path!

Neurodiverse people spend their whole lives battling, confronting and controlling their own minds in order to fit into society. At Energy Local we think it’s time that society fully accommodates and uses our idiosyncrasies, our processing power, our “other” way of thinking and working. Workplaces should learn what enables these different ways of being and thinking, provide the flexibility for team members to flourish, and embrace the diversity and new opportunities it will bring.