Neurodiversity in Action

Recently the Institute of Management & Leaders organised a webinar: Neurodiversity in Action.  The speaker was Samantha Nuttall, who describes herself as The Neurodivergent Coach.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Cardiff University and a post-graduate Diploma in Coaching Psychology from the University of Sydney.  She started her working career in Human Resources. She is married and the mother of two sons who were both diagnosed with Autism and ADHD when they were 3 years old.  This led to her becoming interested in the field of Neurodiversity and subsequently realising not only were her sons Neurodivergent but so was she, her husband and all 30 plus members of her extended family.  She puts forward the hypothesis that this demonstrates that Neurodiversity is genetic.  The sceptic in me wonders if this is just a good example of confirmation bias in action.

She began her webinar by defining Neurodiversity in terms of Brain Basics.  According to Samantha all human brains are different; brain structure and brain chemicals neurotransmitters control our functioning in our thoughts and that differences in those brain structures and those neurotransmitters create different internal experiences and reactions and external behaviours. Some of those reactions and behaviours can be intentionally controlled some of them can’t.  Thia means that everybody is neurodiverse in some form.

On the other hand, most people follow typical social norms and think the same way; these people are described as Neurotypical while others fit outside the Neurotypical and these people describe themselves as Neurodivergent thus there are two types of people.  In the Neurodivergent camp are people who suffer from dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, Autism, and Tourette’s Syndrome.   According to Samantha around 15 to 20% of the population worldwide is Neurodivergent which means there are almost four million Neurodivergent Australians.

I now have a problem.  If there are genetic traits that cause Neurodiversity (and I believe there are) then you would expect it to be Normally Distributed with a Mean and Standard Deviation (SD).  68% of the population fall within one SD of the Mean and they would be classified as Neurotypical. So would the 16% of the population located more than 1 SD negatively from the Mean. The remaining 16% more than 1 SD positively from the mean would be described as Neurodiverse but those suffering from a form requiring clinical treatment would be around 2.5%.  How much you need to cater for the remaining 13.5% is a good question,

There is considerable debate whether autism, for example is merely a benign form of neurodiversity.  This article, An Absurd Umbrella: Neurodiversity and the Autism Spectrum, by Jason Garshfield published in Quillette sets out the counter arguments.  Rates of autism have skyrocketed in recent decades, from well below 1 in 1,000 children in the 1960s to 1 in 36 today.

The rest of the webinar was about how your organisation will be more productive if it includes and treats fairly Neurodivergent people.  There is no doubt that one of the most common mistakes made by managers is select people who are like themselves.  This leads to Groupthink in an organisation and a decline in innovation and flexibility.  Recruiting and managing people that are different from you is a key to corporate success and Samantha does articulate some very useful tips in the Webinar.

One of the best tips I ever had as manager to play chess with people and not checkers.  What this means it that you should analyse employees and then use the appropriate techniques to manage each of them differently.  The best tool I have used is the 7MTF.

For more information watch this 4-minute video introduction to the 7MTF.  If that whets you appetite  sign up to my Introduction to the 7MTF online-video course that takes only 5 hours to complete and an investment of only A$25.  The 7MTF model of temperament is the secret to lifting your emotional intelligence.  If you complete the basic 7MTF course you will dramatically increase your EQ competency in days.

Or if you want a more personal touch where you and I meet on-line for six coaching sessions read what is offered here.

This Blog was first posted on LinkedIn on 24 May 2024



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