Regarding recent disclosure at work discussions, I’m thinking about John Elder Robison’s piece that talks about using “neurodivergent” instead of diagnostic labels to make disclosing at work less stigmatizing.
When schools and workplaces move from autism programs to neurodiversity programs, they include every person with a cognitive difference, not just autistic people. The tent gets bigger, and it has room for all.
Whether your goal is competitive advantage or human service, you should be able to meet your goals better under a Neurodiversity at Work banner, as opposed to an Autism at Work one. In both cases the supports needed are similar, but the neurodivergent population is substantially larger than the “only autistic” population so your chances of success are magnified.
While labels like ADHD, autism, dyslexia, or PDD-NOS may be useful for therapists and childhood educators, the community-sourced alternative “neurodivergent” is probably better suited for colleges and workplaces. In those spaces, medical labels carry stigma that leads to conscious and unconscious marginalization. Expectations are always lower for people with disability diagnoses.
Neurodiversity is a new concept but the underlying reality has been part of human society forever. In the modern era work and school programs designed for the average person have excluded those whose cognitive styles fall outside that narrow midrange. Despite that, workplaces – including colleges – already contain plenty of neurodiversity so a primary program goal should be the better support of those people. Neurodiversity at School and at Work is not just about bringing new people into the fold.
The newest Neurodiversity initiatives recognize this fact.
By embracing the neurodiversity model instead of autism, employers can move toward a more inclusive welcoming environment.
Sounds good to me.
As I’ve witnessed, the opposite approach to universal design inclusivity leads to the likelihood of increased segregation, such as the implementation of entirely separate hiring processes for job candidates who have a specific neurological difference. Neurodiversity isn’t meant to be a means of setting individuals apart. Siphoning a member of a marginalized community into a separate process leads to discrimination. Imagine if we encouraged all women to go through a segregated hiring program! It’s easy to see the problems with such an approach — and the benefits that universal design inclusivity can bring in its stead.