Employment isn’t easy for neurodiverse people for a number of reasons in general, the more so depending on the type of condition they have. Neurodiverse people can struggle with audio, for example loud noise, or discourse and being able to tell someone’s social cues and body language. Personally, I find it a miracle when I have a day where I can stand up without falling over myself or tripping over inanimate objects. Thankfully, since I’ve been in employment there has been a lot of conversation about aspects of neurodiversity such as Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Dyspraxia
All of these fall under Autistic Spectrum Disorder (or ASD) this can mean one person can show symptoms from different disorders. For example, I myself have difficulty with eye contact and recognising facial expressions, tone and inflection of speech. These can be attributed to somebody with Aspergers syndrome, however I also do not like change in plans or routine or loud sudden noise which can be associated with Autism. These are the least of my worries! All of these difficulties can also be encompassed in a diagnosis of Dyspraxia.
As a child Dyspraxia for me meant my handwriting wasn’t as neat as it should have been, I was falling over constantly and had no idea when to put my hand up in class! As a teenager and young adult, it’s meant my organisational skills are nowhere near where they should be and I still struggle with social interactions. Despite all the talk and awareness going on while I was working from the age of 16 this seems to be lost on employers. I can see it from their point of view it’s a lot of hoops to jump through for one person who might then decide the job isn’t for them. However, let me emphasise the benefits of having a neurodiverse employee. Despite our flaws people with ASD tend to be passionate, creative, and resilient. I will go out on a limb and say that you will not find a person with more drive.
While working I’ve encountered miscommunications, being misunderstood by my employers leading to struggles to explain why these miscommunications happen and eventually having to leave employment due to anxiety this creates. It is a horrible thing to be constantly misunderstood and to be fair some employers tried to be helpful. While working in a call centre my manager saw how anxious and stressed I was getting when not being able to communicate well with clients and not being able to cope with a high pressure environment. He encouraged me to put the client on hold if I needed, ask a colleague or manager to take over and get some fresh air or a glass of water. Unfortunately, the difficulties Dyspraxia created for me were overwhelming and I had to leave that role. As much as they tried to help the best they could, based on the information on Dyspraxia I gave in my disclosure statement I give to every potential employer, there was still a disconnect when it came to upper management even as good as the floor managers were.
So, I was planning on giving up on employment entirely, my morale was lower than it had ever been (even more than when I moved 300 miles away from home) and then something changed. I’d managed to pull myself up enough to start job hunting again. I managed to secure an interview with a law firm, Morgan Wiseman Solicitors. I was surprised because it was on the off chance they’d even look at my CV twice let alone read my disclosure statement and not run a mile. So I received a call saying I’d got the job and I was excited mixed with apprehension from previous experiences but to my surprise I was completely wrong to be apprehensive. Since being at Morgan Wiseman Solicitors I’ve been listened to, understood, I finally feel like a cog in a machine and not a faceless drone. I have been made to feel like I matter, that my ideas and thoughts are valid and that I can ask for help without feeling like a nuisance. Between that and a lot of personal work on coping mechanisms throughout the year I feel like my Dyspraxia is no longer like a devil on my shoulder but just a part of me that I can accept and that Morgan Wiseman Solicitors accept about me. To me they have proved that it’s just a little understanding that goes a long way when it comes to employing a neurodiverse person.