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Season 3 | Episode 8

Thinking Differently

There is no ‘normal’ when it comes to the human brain- we all think, learn and experience the world uniquely.

March 21, 2023 | 36 minutes

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It’s estimated up to 20% of the population identifies as neurodivergent, which includes conditions like ADHD, autism and dyslexia. We talk with KC Davis and Amy Root about their personal journeys as well as what needs to be done to better support thinking differently.

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Speaker 1: I felt like when I walked away from my appointment for the first time, I felt different. I wasn't an unsuccessful, struggling typical person. I was a very successful neurodivergent person.

Speaker 2: What?

Speaker 3: Welcome back to Until It's Fixed, where we explore new ideas and work underway to make healthcare simpler and more effective for everyone. I'm your host, Callie Chamberlain.

Speaker 4: [00:00:30] And I'm Dr. Kenny Pool.

Speaker 3: Welcome back everyone. In this episode we're talking about neurodivergence, what that means, who it affects and what complicates our discussions. So Kenny. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'm sure you've seen tons of people talking about this topic of neurodiversity and neuro divergence.

Speaker 4: For me, I mean it raised questions of exactly what is neurodiversity and so yeah, when we think about what neurodiversity is, I think it just refers to the range [00:01:00] or the diversity that we have as individuals pertaining to our brain function are different behavioral traits, right? Like just the differences in the way in which people interact with the world. Mm-hmm.

Speaker 3: <affirmative>. And as more people are diagnosed and we start to widen the criteria and understanding of what these topics are, the more we have been able to research and understand what it means to live with these different conditions. Our understanding, of course, has evolved a lot over the years and for me that's particularly been on TikTok [00:01:30] where I've seen so many different people speak about their experiences being neurodiverse and their diagnoses and what that has meant for them and how it has changed their life and the different things that they have modified to accommodate their own thinking processes. And the introduction of this topic basically just presents an opportunity for us to talk about the ways in which our brains work differently. Right? Yeah. So I think this conversation, it's really nuanced, but I appreciate that it is more expansive than maybe it has been in the past where we've only thought [00:02:00] about neuro divergence and neurodiversity as something related to specific disorders that we could put our finger on and define.

Speaker 4: I think you hit the nail on the head with the nuance piece and that's what makes this really intriguing and interesting because it's difficult to figure out where we draw the line between what's normal mm-hmm. <affirmative> and what's abnormal, what's difficulty in terms of normal difficulty and what's difficulty in terms of someone who needs an accommodation. Right. So I'm interested to talk to our guest [00:02:30] today to learn more about this topic.

Speaker 3: Yes, me too. To help us learn more about neuro diversions and to answer some of these questions that Kenny and I are talking about, we talked to two amazing guests. The first is Amy Root, the director of Neurodiversity Inclusion at United Health Group, and the second is Casey Davis, who is a licensed professional counselor and author of the Amazon bestseller, how to Keep House While Drowning. She's also the creator of the mental health platform and podcast Struggle Care. Let's listen in. [00:03:00] So to start off, I'd love to hear just a little bit about your connections to Neurodivergence, both professionally and personally as you feel comfortable sharing. Amy, let's hear from you first. Sure.

Speaker 1: My name is Amy Root and um, I am multiply neurodivergent and really what that means is my brain is very different. I'm autistic and I have A D H D also dysgraphia and kind of a lot of other things, quite frankly that I don't have really names for, but my brain is just different [00:03:30] and I've always known that. Um, but I was diagnosed later in life and my late thirties after my oldest child was identified and diagnosed. And so that's my connection personally and professionally, I'm the director of neurodiversity inclusion for Optum. So I do this for a living and I, I get to share and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion with the lens of neurodiversity.

Speaker 4: Great. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that then Casey.

Speaker 5: So my alphabet soup is, [00:04:00] um, I have a late diagnosis, A D H D that I got in my thirties. Um, as a child I was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, dysgraphia, all sorts of fun things. Um, and then I also had a substance use disorder when I was about 16, which we now believe to be related to my multiple neuro divergencies and probably is a neuro divergence in and of itself, which kind of runs in my family. So that's me personally. Professionally, I'm a [00:04:30] licensed professional counselor and I worked in addiction most of my career up until probably about four years ago when I sort of accidentally fell into a large TikTok following where I talk about the intersection between mental health and neuro divergence and life skills, I guess like keeping house, I mean just like the basics of laundry, dishes, cleaning. And those things are particularly really difficult for people who are [00:05:00] neuro divergent or people who are under stress or chronically ill. And so I sort of talk about those various subjects and ways that we can make our homes and our systems work for our brains and bodies and not against our brains and bodies.

Speaker 4: How would you all define neurodiversity? So, you know, again, this is something that's being talked a lot about now, but it's hard to get good clear definitions for this depending upon who you ask [00:05:30] and what source you go to.

Speaker 5: So there's an interesting way to think about neurodiversity and I think sometimes when we talk about it, we can accidentally make it seem like there are two groups of people in the world that there's this really hard and distinct line where here's this group of people that are neurotypical and then there's this group of people that are neurodivergent mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And while it is true that there are various sort of [00:06:00] disorders and things that are considered neurodivergent, that absolutely diverge from what's considered typical, I think it's more appropriate to talk about what's considered typical rather than like a person who's typical. And the way that I think about it that I think is easiest is that, you know, neurodiversity isn't about what side of the line you're on, it's about the idea that within the human experience there are diverse ways for brains to work and operate.

Speaker 5: And so if you think about [00:06:30] if anyone's ever had a child and you kind of learn about like the milestones, like, oh, a child should be walking at between, you know, a year and 15 months. Well, if you look at that, what they're saying is that a typical child, the typical development is between 12 and 15. But even within that, like there's a span, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, some will walk at nine months, some will walk at 18 months for no other reason other than kids are just different and they develop differently. So even [00:07:00] within typical development, there's a range and a difference and a diversity in, in the way people develop. But when we talk about someone being neurodivergent, typically what we're talking about is, okay, this child is now kind of way outside of what we typically see as the range of diversity. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so it's sort of nuanced to say there's no hard line, but also there are definitely people that are falling kind of even outside of what we see diversity in typical presentations. [00:07:30] Okay. So I dunno if that makes sense. No, no, it does. It's sort of a nuanced thing to describe. It

Speaker 4: Does, it does. Thank you for that Amy. How would you define it?

Speaker 1: Well, neurodiversity, I think it's very simple. It just simply means brain differences. And so that's a biological fact that we know that within humans we have variation in our brains and the structure and the functioning. And so neurodiversity is all of us. That includes all of us. And then there's different terminologies based on different subsets and [00:08:00] groups. But, um, I always, uh, you know, champion and talk about neurodiversity is all of us. Yeah.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Thank you both for helping us understand what these terms mean. Neurodiversity seems to be a really big topic of conversation right now, especially in the news and on social media. Why do you think that is?

Speaker 1: I think that's right. I think it's a really exciting time and there's a couple of of things that I think why that it's such a big topic right now. Um, I think about advances in research that we're starting to see in neuroscience and even genetics [00:08:30] that's leading us to a greater understanding that we really do have neurological differences and that that is natural and valuable. I also think about increased advocacy and activism. I love seeing the rise of self-advocates and like we were talking about earlier, Casey, it's like going on to social media and all the different platforms. It's fascinating to see people sharing their stories, advocating for themselves and talking about their strengths and abilities. So we're [00:09:00] seeing this from a new lens now. I think there's an increased prevalence too. There's a growing understanding and ability to seek diagnosis and treatment for things. And then there's just all of these changing attitudes and beliefs. I think that is what is causing a rise. What do you think Casey?

Speaker 5: Well, I think particularly when I think of autism, you know, the first person to ever be diagnosed autistic is still alive. It's like, this is a very recent sort of understanding in [00:09:30] psychology. And I think what we're finding is that the sort of first few waves of children that were diagnosed autistic are now adults. And for the first time we have adult autistic generations talking about their experience. Mm-hmm. And what it's like to be inside their brains and how they experience the world. And so, especially with kind of the rise of social media and TikTok. So we're hearing firsthand accounts and I think as [00:10:00] opposed to in the past where we may have only heard thirdhand clinical accounts, like, well, here's the criteria, here's what it looks like. Which tended to focus on a very externalized, symptomatic, you know, whether it's a autism, right? Like it was usually young boys and now we're l listening to adults and people are going, wait a second.

Speaker 5: The way they described that perfectly describes my inner world, my inner experience. [00:10:30] And you know, I didn't have a diagnosis, but now I'm looking back at my life and I've always known I was different and I've, I had these differences and these differences. And I have to say that that I think is revolutionizing the world of psychology in a way we don't even appreciate. And the example that I always give is my own daughter, we recognize when she was 15 months old that she is autistic and she is very low support needs. And it's extremely uncommon to [00:11:00] identify a child that young, particularly a girl. And the reason was because if you looked at, she's like, if you Googled toddlers and autistic symptoms, you would get a pretty stereotypical list and it's accurate, right? But she wasn't showing any of that. But I had listened and been exposed to so many adult autistics talking about the way they saw the world and experienced the world that I began to identify. I think that's how she's experiencing the [00:11:30] world. I, I can't necessarily point to a specific Hmm. There's a couple of behaviors, but I, I see this difference. Yeah. And it lines up with people describing their experiences. Hmm. And I think that that's the phenomenon that is starting to sort of creep its way in.

Speaker 3: So, interesting. Cuz what I'm hearing you say is that there's just more texture, like we're having lived experiences as data points when maybe that had not a part of the conversation before. And I think that's a really fascinating place for us to be Yeah. In this moment in time.

Speaker 4: Yeah. [00:12:00] So with that said, how do we get people to really recognize the spectrum of neurodivergence?

Speaker 5: Well, I think it's definitely the advocacy that we do. Okay. Whether it's talking about it, talking to workplaces about it. And I also think that like for me, there's this great TED talk, it's a TEDx talk called Your autistic child can Have a great Life mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's given by an autistic [00:12:30] woman. And I think for me, one of the reasons why I wasn't as frightened when we were exploring this diagnosis for one of my own kids is because I had seen happy autistic adults. Like there, I think giving more platform to adults that are neurodivergent. Right. And I think I, I would hope that maybe a parent would feel the same way if they're going through an A D H D diagnosis and go, man, but Casey Davis has a D H D and like she's happy [00:13:00] and she has a job and she's successful and she has been able to sort of create a life that is meaningful for her. And I think when we platform adults and firsthand experiences, the world becomes more accepting and sees people as human and becomes less frightened of their children possibly having a disorder that's considered neurodivergent.

Speaker 1: And I had a very different experience when my daughter was diagnosed. I really didn't know much at all to [00:13:30] be honest. I had a very stereotypical understanding of what autism was. And I left that appointment with a little pamphlet that took me to a website that is filled with language that is very disparaging and puts us in the light of now you have a burden the rest of your life you get to raise. I mean, really that's what it was. And I was very scared and it felt deeply wrong. Like I felt like they weren't even acknowledging her, her humanity. And that's when I went and sought out autistic adults to [00:14:00] hear, because I knew my child wasn't what, you know, the information packet that I was given. And that's when I found my community. And then I had identified so deeply with it and then I knew these are my people. Like this is her experiences very similar to mine. And so I'm glad that there are people out there sharing their experiences for parents and others who are really exploring this because the information from the more medical model is really not a great story. It's not something that you should really hear firsthand [00:14:30] the first time that you Yeah. Experience that.

Speaker 3: It's making me think about the gap then, right. Between like a medical understanding of what is happening and then like you're talking about KC seeing people on TikTok, having more like first person driven narrative around what the experience is. Can we have a conversation about people being misdiagnosed and self-diagnosing? What are your thoughts on that?

Speaker 5: As far as misdiagnosing, it's really common for girls [00:15:00] with a D H D to have more internalizing difficulties and boys for have externalizing difficulties. And that's a generalization, not a universalism. Mm-hmm. Right. But with boys, when you see, especially with the hyperactivity, and so they are more likely to be misdiagnosed with things like conduct disorders, but they're also more likely to be identified as a D H D because they're the boy bouncing off the walls, they're the boy throwing spit balls, right? They're the boy that is being loud and disrupting [00:15:30] class. And you sort of have this squeaky wheel gets the oil situation where the, the little boy who is disruptive is sort of identified early. And girls with a D H D tend to develop more internalizing issues. So things like anxiety, depression, um, and my own experience was really interesting because I never had trouble paying attention in school and then I would ace every test quickly, but I never did homework [00:16:00] ever.

Speaker 5: Hmm. I forgot that homework existed the moment I walked out the door. And so I'm talking to my psychiatrist in the middle of this diagnosis journey and I kind of said, one of the reasons I think that I can't be a d h, it's because I was, I did really well in school until the addiction hit. And she said that that is one of the ways that girls get missed because d h D is not a problem with paying attention. It is not a problem with attention. It is a, it is an issue with regulating your attention. [00:16:30] So that's why kids with A D H D, if they're interested in something, they can hyper fixate on that thing for hours to the exclusion of hearing anything else. And so I was so interested in learning that I, you didn't see any hyperactivity, you didn't see any distraction, but what you saw was a working memory, so poor and an inability to create structure outside the classroom that once I walked out the door, no homework got done. Hmm. It's interesting to look at [00:17:00] how A D H D girls are more social. They are gonna be more compliant. They are more likely to be inattentive but not be distracting to a classroom. And if you are gifted, you are more likely to be excelling in school, but really be struggling in other areas that aren't quite as identified.

Speaker 1: And I was misdiagnosed, underdiagnosed, delayed diagnosis, I mean all of that. My story is for 30 years I had been to [00:17:30] therapists. I mean like I am a once a week for my entire life. I've always gone to providers, therapists. And it was never identified that I was autistic or A D H D. I had anxiety. And I think some of it was the language that I was using. I kept saying overwhelmed. I now know that's a sensory overwhelm. I'm highly sensitive to my environments, moods of other people. It feels like my nerves are on my skin. And you know, I would fall apart and it would look on the outside just standard [00:18:00] anxiety. But that was a perfect presentation of my autism and A D H D. I didn't know how to communicate it, they didn't catch it. And that can be incredibly detrimental to the health of an individual. I had been on lots of different medications and treatment plans that were ineffective for me. Um, and had I known earlier, I think life would be very different. I would have different opportunities. I wouldn't have lost relationships without knowing why I wouldn't have failed in areas that maybe I could have better equipped myself [00:18:30] had I known. So I think that that's a really important piece.

Speaker 5: Hmm. I have to piggyback on that because I was also saying I'm overwhelmed, but what I meant is I'm having trouble. I'm looking at this thing I need to do and there's so many steps that I can't seem to wrap my head around which step I should do first. And I can't seem to transition between the steps quickly. And I'm having this like cognitive traffic jam [00:19:00] and, and I think it's really interesting to illustrate how, you know, a client could be saying the words and the provider thinks they know what they're describing, but in reality we're describing two completely different scenarios. Same thing with motivation. I would talk about not being motivated, which gets attributed to depression a lot of the time or low self-esteem. And then as an adult I realized I'm not actually talking about not being motivated, I'm talking about problems with task initiation.

Speaker 5: Hmm. Which is executive functioning issues related to my A D H D. [00:19:30] And I think this kind of goes hand in hand with talking about first person stories. And the importance of that is that if you're a provider, you know, who goes through school and you know, I was trained on the criteria, right? And I'm going, okay, how's trouble paying attention check mark? Or like, oh no, she's paying attention. Fine just now. Or if you asked me, I remember going through the A D H D self-assessment and one of the things was, you know, interrupts a lot. There's like three social questions, interrupts a lot, has trouble taking turns, finishes, other people's sentences, things like that. And [00:20:00] I remember saying, I don't really do that. But the moment that someone began to unpack to me, okay, so you're not doing the outside behavior, but what's going on in your head? And learned that I was institutionalized at 16 years old in inpatient treatment for 18 months into a heavy therapeutic community, high confrontation facility. And those behaviors of interrupting, finishing people's sentences, I was told, you are arrogant, you are entitled, you will not get over your addiction [00:20:30] until you become humble. And I learned through heavy psychological behavior modification to bite my tongue to not interrupt, to wait and take turns. But nobody ever took those extra steps to say, but what's happening in your head when you're waiting to to talk?

Speaker 3: That's a really good point about not just observing someone's behavior but taking it into account what's going on in their brains too. And if someone is interested in getting a diagnosis either for themselves or a loved one like a child, how do you think [00:21:00] that they would go about doing that?

Speaker 5: So the answer is very different depending on what kind of access you have. Like in our country, access to healthcare is absolutely a privilege. It's not equal for everyone. And so the answer of, well you just seek out a psychologist that is well-versed in neurodivergence, in the neurodiversity movement who understands the differing presentations of, you know, these, these different disorders and you go talk to them and you go through the structured pro process, like that's the process. [00:21:30] But realistically, a lot of people can't access that. Whether they don't have fi financial means they don't have health insurance, they live in a rural town and that person doesn't exist. I mean, you know, they work three jobs, when are they gonna go to the next town over and see someone? So when we talk about sort of self-diagnosis, I think it's important to look at sort of two things happening with self-diagnosis is we want this self-diagnosis because we wanna know what's quote unquote wrong [00:22:00] with me and how can I fix it.

Speaker 5: And then I also think that there's a difference between saying, you know, I wanna know who and what I am so I know who my community is and I can access sort of the services or the tips and tricks that will apply to me. And I think that in that case, you know it, I'm for self-diagnosis because not everybody can access a formal diagnosis. And if, if tips are helping you, if you know the [00:22:30] A D H D blog helps you, if the way that autistic people are talking about how they manage things is helping you, it doesn't really matter whether you quote unquote have the diagnosis. Hmm. I think the thing to look out for is that there is a lot of misinformation and overgeneralizing and sort of pathologizing of normal human experiences sometimes. And sometimes we feel so broken and on the outside and we're looking for an answer [00:23:00] because we feel like if we had an answer for how, why we feel this way, it would change something about us. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And sometimes that's true and sometimes it's not. Sometimes we are, you know, neurodivergent not otherwise specified. Yeah. Or just human being with struggles not otherwise specified. And I think it's important to recognize that you don't have to have or fit a diagnosis for your neurodivergence to be valid. You don't have to be neurodivergent [00:23:30] for your struggles to be valid. Hmm. And so I think that those are sort of important things to keep in mind.

Speaker 4: So, so the labeling becomes less important and it's more so around the functioning. And my follow up to that then is how does someone know that they need help then

Speaker 5: If you're in distress?

Speaker 4: Okay.

Speaker 5: Period, end of paragraph, you don't have to meet some sort of burden of disability to deserve [00:24:00] to reach out for help or services or accommodations that can alleviate distress that you're feeling in your life. Mm-hmm. Now getting a formal diagnosis is intensely helpful when you need accommodations or rights that are legally protected by law because you may not otherwise be able to access those services or accommodations at school or in your workplace, things like that. But when it comes to just sort of life hacks, tips and tricks, you know, ways that people are sort of managing their own things, like if [00:24:30] there's some way that people are doing things that you are resonating with and that's helping you if you wanna go see a therapist, but you don't feel like you're allowed to, unless you're some sort of this bad, that's not, that's not the case.

Speaker 1: Hmm. And I think getting a a diagnosis is incredibly a personal decision and it is, you know, just depends on the individual circumstances, but there's several reasons to seek a diagnosis if you can. I think it's to better help understand yourself and it's validating can be [00:25:00] incredibly validating. I felt like when I walked away from my appointment for the first time, I felt different. It was, I wasn't an unsuccessful, struggling typical person. I was a very successful neuro divergent person. And my entire life and view changed. Um, it, it is also can give you access to support and resources and like you said, legal protections in some cases, having a formal diagnosis can provide protections against discrimination and education, employment and [00:25:30] other areas. But like you said, self-diagnosis is often valid. People are very aware of their own issues that they face and what they need to be better supported. And like you said, diagnosis is privilege. Like especially in this area because we know that females are less likely to be diagnosed as children. We know black and brown children are more likely to be falsely diagnosed with conduct disorders instead of neurodivergence. And diagnosis and treatment [00:26:00] can be incredibly costly and coverage is limited or non-existent, especially for adults. So there are a lot of barriers when it comes to diagnosis.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I think this conversation's also making me think about just to the point about diagnosis or not just more expansive ways to cope and engage with the things that are happening in your life and finding what fits for you. And I wanna talk about what that could look like in an employment setting. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So for employers who are so trying to support divergent employees from the hiring process and beyond, [00:26:30] what are some things that can be really helpful?

Speaker 1: I, I think what advice I would give, um, is to start now and know that you already have a neurodiverse workforce. We're talking about when we're considering neuro divergent people, it's about 20% of the population and probably more, especially because neurodiversity is not a tool of exclusion. It could be a lot more individuals, but know that you already have neuro divergent workers and they might not think of themselves as being disabled, but it is likely [00:27:00] they will satisfy the legal definition. So it means that you have the responsibility to make workplaces more accommodating and provide individualized support. So I think training and education is vitally important. Being willing and, and offering flexible work arrangements, I think is very important. Um, making those physical modifications in your environment, providing assistive technology is another really good thing that they could start with now. Being open to alternative methods of communication for their employees. [00:27:30] Um, but more importantly just offering and allowing for individualized accommodations. So supporting, you know, the employee and their development.

Speaker 5: Hmm. And you know, we're pretty big in this country about like paid sick days or even unpaid sick days, recognizing that people get sick and they need to go to the doctor. And I think bringing in more awareness of mental health days, talking about, you know, does that person need a Thursday afternoon off to go see a therapist? Should we do four day work [00:28:00] weeks? Um, they just had a big study, um, I believe might have been United Kingdom or Britain, where they took a bunch of companies and did four day work weeks and they saw that the amount of burnout was decreased by 71%. That productivity pretty much stayed the same or went up. But the happiness of the people that worked there, their work-life balance, their mental health all went up. And I think that that's something we should take into account when designing [00:28:30] the way that you do your work hours and what you're requiring of your employees.

Speaker 3: Hmm. Awesome. Thank you so much. We're gonna move into the lightning round, so it's gonna be a quick overview of your personal professional experiences based on the questions. The first question is what gives you hope?

Speaker 1: I love seeing this younger generation and how they're really embracing this neuro divergence and sharing their stories. Whenever people feel safe enough, even [00:29:00] temporarily to share their experiences, that gives me so much hope because without that I would be in a very different place. Again, I did not know much until I started leaning on the lived experiences of neurodivergent people. So that gives me hope.

Speaker 5: What gives me hope is that the position that Amy has, like the fact that there is a position of director of neurodiversity, is that the correct title? That's right. Nerd Diversity Inclusion. Right? That's right. Like the fact that that exists anywhere [00:29:30] gives me hope. Yeah.

Speaker 1: And that it's by a neurodivergent person, right? Yes. That's I think important

Speaker 5: That we're seeing more and more people who are talking and educating about neurodivergent who are themselves neurodivergent.

Speaker 4: What's something new you've learned recently?

Speaker 1: Neuroplasticity. I am fascinated by the fact that not only, you know, we think that our brains are set, but how we experience the world and when we grow and we learn that our brains [00:30:00] rewire. And that is kind of at the core of neurodiversity too. And so you think about trauma, you think about all different kinds of experiences and what that means. But neuro neuroplasticity is the jam right now for me.

Speaker 4: And Casey, what about you?

Speaker 5: So I got my diagnosis after I had my second child. And it seemed one of the reasons why I resisted looking for that is because I thought, well, I don't know, like these symptoms have just started. And the truth is that I'd had these symptoms my whole life, but they had suddenly become much more [00:30:30] distressing and evident. Come to find out what I just learned is that hormones can play a huge part in people's symptoms in the expression of their symptoms and the severity of their symptoms. And so it's really common to see women who are postpartum women who have just had children, women who have gone through menopause, you know, kids going through puberty. When you have these big hormonal changes, it's common to see either a reorganization or a new severity [00:31:00] level or a new type of expression of D H D symptoms. And I assume probably other neurodivergent diagnoses as well. Hmm.

Speaker 3: Who is someone who's inspired you or had the biggest impact on who you are today?

Speaker 1: There's a coworker here at Optum at the time, it was really early in my diagnosis and understanding and that kind of unpacking and repacking my whole life and understanding from a new lens. And he was already an openly autistic leader in our organization [00:31:30] and came and partnered with me and really helped me for years understand and kind of maximize that, understand my strengths and use it. And I, if I didn't have that kind of partnership, I think I would be in a different place now. So I think that that was really important for me to have that kind of mentor. Yeah.

Speaker 5: So I've made two friends over the past few years. One of them is an autistic woman who runs an autism advocacy organization that also is a PhD candidate [00:32:00] studying autism. The other one is a psychologist who has a D H D that treats A D H D and assesses h d in children. Both of them have been so inspiring and helpful to me, both in helping me to understand what adult presentations in women of these diagnoses look like. And that's who they're treating and that's who they're advocating for. And they're both these really incredible smart, successful women that have been vulnerable enough to share [00:32:30] the ways in which they struggle to navigate the world, their career, you know, all of these things because of their neurodivergence. And to see that nuanced picture of being smart, being capable, being successful, and also like in, you know, with my friend who's a psychologist, also talk about like, I can't seem to like pick up the coffee cups around my house and now they're molding Hmm. Right. Like also to see my friend who can get up and give a TEDx talk and do all these things [00:33:00] talk about. And then I, I had an autistic meltdown and I, I needed to go get help and I, I had to, you know, decompress for this amount of time. And I feel like that nuanced picture of what it means to be neuro divergent in today's world has been for me sort of a unintentional mentorship and inspiration and, and really hope for where I hope all of us can aspire to.

Speaker 3: Thank you both for joining us, who really appreciate the conversation. [00:33:30] Really

Speaker 5: Appreciate it. Thanks for having us.

Speaker 3: That was a great interview. I feel like I learned so much. I think if I really step back, uh, you know, and think about this topic generally what I appreciate about it is we're shifting the responsibility in some ways from the individual who might feel like these are the expectations I just have to make it work. And that might [00:34:00] require a lot or feel unfair to an industry and to a workplace that can more broadly be accommodating to people and ask the question like, what do you need to be supported? Yeah. And like, how do I help you thrive? And so I think that's shifting of power, that recognition of like, hey, if we're inherently in a relationship, right, like an employer and employee, there is a duty of care and a responsibility that we owe. That to me is really important. And I think more [00:34:30] of that is going to leave all of us better off because the definition is actually really expansive. And that's something I personally sort of struggled with is like, it's so broad then how do we know? And I think that's part of the point, right? Is that like we're not going to know, like neuro divergence is a spectrum. Everyone exists somewhere on a spectrum, nobody thinks the same. Therefore that's not the right question to be asking. The right question to be holding is like, what do you need and how do we make sure that we can accommodate that so that you can thrive? [00:35:00] Yeah. And that I feel like I'm a meaningful question.

Speaker 4: Yeah, I like that a lot. And what you said made me just think about neurodiversity in the context of any other type of diversity, right? And you think about diversity as a spectrum in thinking of it in that framework. Everybody is included, right? But there are people on different parts of a spectrum that need and deserve accommodations, help, [00:35:30] assistance, voice agency, all of the above. And the same thing can be applied to neurodiversity, right? Like everybody's neurodiverse, there is no line, it's very much blurred and fluid, but there are people within that spectrum that deserve to be seen and heard and at times spoken for. Yeah. In order to help them really live their best life. Mm-hmm.

Speaker 3: <affirmative>. Yeah. And then I think you bring up a good point as well around like, [00:36:00] this is a conversation where we're starting to view people individually. And I think that that's helpful at all times. Yeah. Right? In all contexts is to deal with somebody and interact with someone on this individual basis based on where they're at and what they need. I think more of that would probably, like, we'd be better off. You know, I think all of these things are really interesting, like segues into this broader conversation that we can start to think about differently because of the conversation on neurodiversity. So [00:36:30] in the bonus episode next week we're gonna share tips on how to make sense of this really big topic and help create a more accessible, equitable and neuro inclusive environment specifically in the workplace. So thank you for listening. Make sure you follow and make sure you subscribe wherever you listen so you get notified when a new episode is live. And we will talk to you next week.