Essentially, neurodiversity can and should be viewed as ‘thinking differently.’

Jennifer Saito

To Whom It May Concern:

    My name is Jennifer Saito and I am a Neurodiverse Individual. Have you ever considered adding a neurodiverse person to your team? While neurodiversity is, by definition, those with ADHD, ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, etc., I believe that neurodiversity makes for a desirable job candidate. Allow me to tell you more about the benefits of having a neurodiverse person as a member of your staff.

  As businesses seek to become more inclusive, those of us with disorders such as ADHD and ASD are often overlooked. Due to a lack of general public knowledge, only the negative traits of these disorders are usually discussed. We mention “ADHD” and the image of a hyperactive schoolboy who is a constant disruption to the class comes to mind. If we say “ASD” or “Autism,” a caricature of someone who has no empathy and is difficult or impossible to communicate with is often pictured. Though these types of people do exist, both disorders should be viewed on a spectrum (ASD even has “spectrum” in the name) and each individual’s symptoms will vary.

  Essentially, neurodiversity can and should be viewed as “thinking differently.” Neurodiverse individuals are highly creative thinkers and problem solvers. We see answers that neurotypical (aka “normal”) brains cannot see. “Thinking outside the box” comes naturally to us. Furthermore, we are often highly introspective, meaning that we have a keen awareness of our own strengths and weaknesses, are intrinsically motivated, and are deeply self aware. We are highly sensitive and can “read the room” effortlessly. I myself am a natural to-do list maker and goal setter, in my personal life as well as my professional life. Though job candidates often list “thrives on new challenges” on their resumes, neurodiverse people receive much needed dopamine (a brain chemical we are believed to be deficient in) through learning new things. This means that we seek out new challenges on a regular basis simply because it brings us joy.

   Then, there is the creativity. I once heard someone with ADHD say, “I have more ideas than I could use in a lifetime.” This statement deeply resonated with me. I have so many ideas that I am positively overflowing with them. I have notebooks filled with sketches of inventions, plans for businesses I want to launch, books I’m writing (I’m up to 4 or 5 now), and more. No one, absolutely no one does creativity better than neurodiverse folks. Don’t believe me? I’ll just leave this here: Einstein, Edison, Lincoln, Van Gogh, Carnegie, Will Smith, Ansel Adams, Tim Burton, Darwin, Elon Musk, Emily Dickinson, Bill Gates. Need I go on?

    My disorder, ADHD, is deeply misunderstood. ADHD individuals do not necessarily have a “deficit of attention,” rather, we have trouble regulating our executive functions: attention, arousal to external stimuli (noises, smells, etc), memory, and emotional regulation to name a few. Trouble regulating my attention does not mean I am “deficient,” it means that I am either hyperfocused or unable to focus. Hyperfocus is a state of mind unique to neurodiverse individuals and can be described as “tunnel vision” or “being in the zone.” We become so focused on the task at hand that things like time, hunger, or even the urge to use the bathroom drift away. ADHD individuals are happiest when in a state of hyperfocus because things that plague an overactive mind such as negative thoughts, a feeling of being overwhelmed, etc. cannot penetrate our focus. 

  Imagine a hybrid car driving along a city street. It is smooth, efficient, and stops when required. This is a perfect representation of a “normal” brain. Now imagine a Ferrari racing along the Autobahn at 100 miles an hour. This is how a neurodiverse brain operates. It will get you to your destination with dazzling speed but has difficulty stopping (interruptions, changing tasks, etc.) and needs proper conditions in order to continue at this pace (a distraction, clutter free environment). 

  As I have made a study of my ADHD and how it affects my productivity, mood, and work performance, I know that I am best suited to a position where I can work from home. I have a designated home office where I can control the number of distractions, the temperature and noise level, and my level of comfort. Having no control over these things may be viewed as a minor annoyance to neurotypical folks, but to someone with ADHD, it can create an impossible work environment. Unfortunately, remote work positions are highly sought after by all types of people for various reasons. While many people want to work from home, neurodiverse people need to work from home.

Neurodiverse people have had to mask their differences for far too long. Many of us do not request accommodations or list our disorders on job applications because we anticipate a negative reaction. The hiring manager sees ADHD or ASD, reflects on all of the negative things they have heard about the disorders, and decides that it is too much of a risk. The “normal” candidate is the safer option, right? By purposely choosing to deny employment to neurodiverse individuals, not only is it unjust, you are denying your company a potentially rare and valuable candidate.

  So why not prioritize adding a neurodiverse individual with a unique skillset to your team? Whether it be our creative thought processes or ability to hyperfocus (considered by many to be a literal superpower) a neurodiverse member of staff would definitely add value to your company. Remember, with the right accommodations, a neurodiverse individual can not only be just as productive and successful as a neurotypical one, we can thrive

Thank you for reading and I hope I have been able to expand your views on neurodiversity.

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