How do I assist someone with ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, or any other combination of the above (and sometimes more)? Did I mention PTSD? – well, noticing neurodiversity is key.
We have no medical training in general (unless you’re a medical doctor who transitioned to being a manager or HR leader, in which case I’d love to hear from you). There’s something about diagnosing that takes power away from the individual because we give them a label they haven’t asked for.
What we can do is pay attention to what is going on.
What does noticing neurodiversity look like?
Noticing can be defined as being aware of, whether or not a person is struggling with a specific task or thriving in a specific area. When we observe, we can approach them and say, “I’ve noticed that this appears to be a bit tricky; is there anything I can do to help, or, better yet, is there anything we could do together to support you?” This is much more effective than stating, “I think you look autistic,” or “your penmanship appears dyslexic”. Noticing is about reflecting back the data that you see rather than attempting to decipher what the data signifies.
There is significance in the term “we”
Are we drawing their focus to a problem they want to solve by noticing? The authority is in their hands; we must collaborate and ask them what we can do together. This is also essential because it keeps responsibility in the middle of the conversation, implying that power is shared rather than taken by one side. I’ve observed that this positively affects creating joint ownership and working towards a potential solution.
The power to move from noticing neurodiversity to asking
To notice, you must first ask. Nothing will change if we only observe and do nothing. Sometimes simply asking is all that is required for an individual to determine what is going on and what would be most beneficial for them to be successful at work.
Different places matter
Changing the setting or medium can be extremely beneficial when having open and honest conversations. If you need to talk to someone struggling, you might find it helpful to do so in a different place than you would usually talk to them. This helps in various ways because it allows individuals to think differently and makes them aware that this is a different type of conversation.
This is the ability of observation
Please make this a daily practice and plan how to use your observations to help your team and organisation be their most effective and innovative selves.
If you need a conversation, please get in contact.