According to a study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, the incidence of recorded autism diagnoses in the UK increased exponentially by 787% between 1998 and 2018.
The study concluded that the increase may be due to an increase in frequency, but is actually more likely due to an increase in reporting. There is also the fact that diagnosis rates have risen in adults, females, and more functioning individuals, suggesting that we are more aware and cognizant of what autism looks like today.
Autism is one of many different types of neurodiversity. “There are some conditions you may have heard of. Autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, epilepsy, hyperlexia, attention deficit, hyperactivity, obsessive compulsive disorder and Tourette’s disease,” said Thales expert and engineer Dr Rachel Craddock, Research Fellow at the Institute of Technology (IET), explains.
She has also led the Thales Neurodiversity Group in the UK since 2013, when she discovered she had autism at the age of 42. “There’s no standard protocol. Some even think left-handedness is a neurodiversity disorder,” she said in an interview with us at the recent Women in Business and Tech conference in London.
Neurodiversity is considered an invisible disability, which is protected by equality legislation. “It’s not a mental health condition,” she points out, adding that in the UK around 15% of the population is diagnosed with a neurodiverse disorder. “There are a lot of people who go undiagnosed,” she stressed. Additionally, she said 17 percent of patients with neurodifferentiation had three or more disorders.
For Craddock, these diagnoses and having conversations around neurodiversity are really important in order to advance equality. “We were seen as broken, flawed or flawed, or incompetent or inferior. Actually, when I was in the room, someone was talking about me, talking about my neurodiversity,” she said.
“We’re not the problem to solve.”
Instead, especially in the workplace, Craddock believes neurodiverse people have a lot to offer. “As soon as I found out [I was autistic] I started talking to people, and then when I took on the role of neurodiversity leader, we started changing attitudes in the workplace,” she says. This is critical: A 2019 study in the US estimated that 85% of people with autism are unemployed, compared to 4.2% of the general population.
“The strengths and feelings of neurodivergents are often overlooked. That’s where there are a lot of assumptions and myths,” she says.
“It’s been estimated that a neurodivergent person can use up to 70% of their brain for masking. If you’re an employer, you’re hiring my brain. If I use 70% of IQ masking, you get 30%,” Craddock pointed out.
Now, after the diagnosis, she doesn’t have a mask. “I’m an advocate for accepting, adapting, and respecting people with neurological differences.”
Craddock says we need workplaces where neurotics and neurotics are treated well. “Fairly — not equally — but fairly,” she said.
“Everyone has to understand neurodiverse culture—or neurotypical culture, depending on which side of the fence you’re on. That way we can stop seeing neurodiverse people as the enemy and stop being afraid of them. But we have to work hard to accept And adapt to them, because really, we’re all human.”
Finally, “Please stop using the D-word,” Craddock said. “Disability, dysfunction, difficulty, disorder…I’m not broken.”
Companies Supporting Neurodiversity
If you want to work at a company that supports neurodiversity through awareness programs and hiring processes, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, SAP, HP, Google, Salesforce, and Deloitte are just a few of the big tech companies working to reinvent the way the workplace looks different cognitive ability.
Below, we’re looking at three companies that are hiring, with more to find on the FinTech Futures job board
Thales is a French multinational company that designs, develops and manufactures electrical systems as well as equipment and equipment for the aerospace, defence, transport and security sectors.
Neurodiversity is taken seriously here: Dr Rachel Craddock leads the company’s neurodiversity group in the UK. The company also works with an organization called Genius Within, which provides training within the enterprise.
Explore all Thales vacancies here
As one of the “Big Four” professional services firms, Deloitte takes its commitment to human capital seriously, including how it treats neurodiverse employees. “Disability and neurodiversity inclusion are increasingly becoming priority areas of Deloitte’s global diversity, equity and inclusion strategy,” it said.
Deloitte UK is partnering with Auticon, recognized by international third-party organizations for Deloitte’s global commitment to creating an inclusive workplace for disabled colleagues.
Discover all vacancies at Deloitte here
Tech giant Microsoft has a Neurodiversity recruiting program built on the belief that individuals with neurodiversity strengthen its workforce through innovative thinking and creative solutions. The program assists applicants through an extended interview process that focuses on job aptitude, interview preparation and skills assessment, giving them the opportunity to showcase their unique talents.
The company believes that a diverse team has a positive impact on company culture, work environment and the way Microsoft serves customers.
Explore all open jobs at Microsoft now
For more great opportunities, check out the FinTech Futures Job Board today
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