founder of naked leader
Naked Leader Week 933 – 26 July 2021
Time to read: A little over 2 minutes
Neurodiversity – From My Daughter Olivia
I’ve been thinking and rethinking about whether to write this or not as generally I like to be positive about neurodiversity, particularly as I can already see the huge amount of progress we have made in a short period of time as a society. However, I think it’s important that people really understand the impact of what they’re saying when they’re trying to be kind. I would say 8 or 9 times out of 10 when I tell people I have a Neurodiverse condition I hear one or more of (or a variation of) the following:
“I’d never have known if you didn’t tell me”
“I think I have a bit of (insert Neurodiverse condition here)”
“I sometimes (insert symptom of Neurodiverse condition here) as well”
“I think everyone has it a bit if you google it, like when you google health symptoms and google says you have a serious illness”
Now, I know that these are all things that people say to try and relate to what I experience on a day-to-day basis and is rarely meant in a negative or demeaning way, so I generally try to accept it as kindness. But this is what I really hear when people use those phrases:
“I’d never have known if you didn’t tell me” means “you’re doing a great job of hiding who you really are, keep it up!”
“I think I have a bit of (insert Neurodiverse condition here)” means “you’re just exaggerating how everyone experiences the world”
“I sometimes (insert symptom of Neurodiverse condition here) as well” means “you’re labelling yourself, stop making excuses”
“I think everyone has it a bit if you google it, like when you google health symptoms and google says you have a serious illness” means “you haven’t got a Neurodiverse condition you’re making it up”
Like I said, I know these are not the intended consequences however, it takes a lot for someone to disclose a medical diagnosis and the above comments can sometimes make me feel like a fraud. Like somehow the struggles I’ve experienced in my life are not valid.
So please, if someone discloses their Neurodiverse condition to you use one of the following, listen to what they say, assume they are 100% correct (after all, who knows anyone better than they know themselves) and act on it.
“Thank you for telling me, how do you experience the world?”
“That’s interesting, is there anything I can do to support you?”
“I’m pleased you felt comfortable to tell me, what does that mean for you?”
“I know that might not have been easy but now I know, I can help you. What help do you need?”
If you’ve read this far, thank you for taking the time (it was longer than I thought!) to understand how, what is said and what is meant can be interpreted differently.
Please share this as you see fit.
And remember to always be kind.
Thank you for reading and as David would say – with my love and best wishes to you all
Vice Chair Neurodiversity Network
PS From David – If you have a personal story to share, that we can share, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
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