Neurodiversity Celebration Week – A Celebration of Difference

Dr Alice Siberry – Specialist Neurodiversity Criminal Justice Consultant

Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a worldwide initiative founded by Siena Castellon, that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. It aims to transform how neurodivergent individuals are perceived and to support organisations to recognise the advantages of being neurodivergent, creating more inclusive and equitable cultures that celebrate differences.

This Neurodiversity Celebration Week, Dr Alice Siberry questions what the celebration of difference really means and what the world would look like if it were ‘accessible by default’.

There is often a great deal of consideration about reasonable adjustments, adjusted working practices and generally, how organisations can be more neuroinclusive. In particular, people want to know how to implement reasonable adjustments for neurodivergent people in order to enable them to work to their strengths.

Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a celebration of difference, of these strengths and skillsets, however there are often barriers to this celebration including that:

  • ‘Everyone is different and needs different things – how do we know what to suggest?’
  • ‘Only a diagnosis or disclosure triggers support’
  • ‘We want people to be themselves, but only if they can meet the same standards and expectations as others’
  • ‘Difference is synonymous with high skillsets or extreme challenges, nothing in between’.

Therefore, in order to celebrate, and in some ways, simply accommodate difference, it seems important to consider what the world would look like if organisations were simply accessible by default.

It might look like this:

  • Neurodivergent people not being relied upon to disclose a diagnosis in order to receive adjusted working practices.
  • An example list of ‘reasonable’ adjustments for any given role provided in advance, so that the person knows what can be done to support them.
  • Asking everyone how they preferred to be communicated with and how they like feedback to be given at the outset of a relationship.
  • Thinking about how to provide predictability in any given situation and communicate that predictability to everyone.
  • Job descriptions that are technically specific so that the person knows what is required of them. For example, what is required of a ‘team player’? Am I meant to be able to do sports with my colleagues?
  • Interview questions offered to all candidates in advance.
  • Not assuming that people can see the inside of our brains, or that they can read our thoughts and feelings. Instead, people speak clearly and directly about what they want, feel, need.

Creating a world that is accessible by default creates a psychologically safe world for people to talk about their differences, whether they are neurodivergent or not, whether their challenges are ‘extreme’ or simply to ensure that everyone has access to the level of support.

By making our world more inclusive for everyone, only then are we truly continuing our journey towards celebrating difference.