I spend a considerable amount of time writing about and talking about neurodiversity – life-long differences in how the brain works. I focus on “supergeeks” – those with traits similar to Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism. In doing so I am frequently called an “expert” or a “thought leader”. This might have benefits for my business but the fact is that when it comes to neurodiversity, my voice isn’t the one that really needs to be listened to.
One of the big advantages of increased awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome, combined with the internet and social media, is that those who are diagnosed with Asperger’s or self-identify as having Asperger’s can tell us what it’s like to be neurodiverse in a neurotypical world. They can give unique insights into what it is actually like to experience the strengths, challenges and vulnerabilities of a different kind of mind.
The following quotes on what it feels like to have Asperger’s come from one such blog: “Inside the mind of an Aspie”.
For the full post go to: https://insidethemindofanaspie.wordpress.com/tag/feelings/
“I have the ability to be blissfully ignorant of the annoyance I’m causing other people.”
“I can do things that most people are not capable of. I’m able to think through most situations rationally, setting aside any emotions I may have and avoiding the biases that come with them. I’m able to process information faster than most people. I can keep going when others would give up.”
“It always seems like everyone else understands what’s going on except for me. I’m doing my best to keep up, but I seem to do everything the wrong way.”
“I’m often very aware of the fact that I’m not quite with it, that I’m a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit. I want to be able to follow along, to get with the beat, to approach some sort of normal. But it’s not easy. It takes effort. And when that effort fails, I get stressed.”
“The smallest annoyance can seem like the biggest pain I can ever experience. A fold in my sock becomes an immediate emergency. I can’t cope with simple everyday situations that almost everybody else shrugs their shoulders at and moves on.”
“The things I’m interested in, I jump in full force. I want to know everything about it. I’m competitive, high spirited, I love knowing things, and I love being right. There’s no better feeling than being completely engrossed in a subject to the point where every new detail is a gift.”
“..the perpetual feeling of always being on the outside, looking in…that feeling of knowing if you were to go “in” that you would be terribly out-of-place, not unlike that well-known “turd in a punch bowl” or perhaps an alien and there is always that wonder of if you were to go “in”, would you even be welcome, which for me, is a risk so hefty, that I am seldom willing to do it.”
Temple Grandin is a well-known autism advocate. She is also a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University – a true supergeek. In her book “The Way I See It” (2011, Future Horizons), she describes how “I take the engineering approach; my emotions are simple. I get satisfaction out of doing good work.” Temple has had a film made about her life and her TED talk is 20 minutes very well spent by anyone wanting to hear more about different kinds of minds: https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=temple%20grandin%20ted%20talk%20youtube
Listening to neurodiverse voices is essential for understanding what is needed to help different minds perform, flourish and succeed in their working lives. The benefits to business of doing so are immense. If you need more convincing don’t listen to me. Listen to the Temple Grandin’s of this world. Be prepared to be amazed.
Masterclass: Coaching Supergeeks, London, Monday 9th November 2015. Click here to find out about using neurodiversity to coach some of the most brilliant minds in business today.