April is Autism Awareness Month

“Neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome.” -John Elder Robison

I have no doubt that a scan of your circle of friends, family, and colleagues would reveal the presence of neurodivergent individuals.  The broad umbrella of the term “neurodiversity” covers autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette’s, anxiety, OCD, depression, neurotypicality, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia.  There is a big world of neurodiversity that remains less understood and not fully explored.  Let’s commit together not to leave it that way. Each April, we celebrate World Autism Month, a UN-sanctioned time to promote awareness, acceptance, and community around this disorder that currently affects 1 in 44 children.

In his Psychology Today blog, John Elder Robison, co-chair of the neurodiversity workgroup at William and Mary College,  insists that our focus should be on accommodation instead of a cure.  With 700,000 to 1 million people with autism expected to turn 18 in the coming decade, it’s crucial that we continue to explore meaningful efforts and initiatives that will create an environment in which neurodivergent members of our teams can thrive. I’d like to offer a few simple tips for working to create this inclusive work environment :

  • Be open to hearing and appreciating others’ stories.
  • Be slow to judge co-workers and ask questions that allow for answers you might not be anticipating.
  •  Help remove the stigma by creating a safe environment. The more we talk about what we are dealing with, the more likely we will find others who also are working through it.

We will know we have arrived at a completely inclusive, accepting place when a coworker can say “Well, actually because I am managing autism, it can be challenging for me to xyz and it would help me if you could xyz.”  That would mark true inclusion.  We are working for that day.

Dr. Lisa

Our theme song is “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera.




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