Inclusion on a Spectrum: Empowering Autism Awareness
The practice of inclusion is rooted in acceptance of one’s authentic self and allowing individuals the opportunity to bring their unique perspectives to the table. An often-overlooked aspect of identity is neurodivergence.
Neurodivergence is categorized as atypical function of the brain and manifests as a range of disorders that affect the way our brains work. A common form of neurodivergence is autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which impacts 1-2% of our population or over 75 million people globally. That means people on your team, in your family, or those you cross paths within your everyday life are likely to be impacted by ASD in some way.
April recognizes both Autism Acceptance Day and Autism Awareness Month. ASD refers to a spectrum of developmental disabilities that impact learning, behavior, communication, and other functions fueled by our brain. Some traits of individuals with autism include inability to focus for prolonged periods of time, trouble making eye contact, difficulty observing social cues, and repetitive behaviors. As with many other differences in identity, these traits are often framed as challenges or deficits that form a disability, but the truth is that neurodivergence provides individuals with gifts that are often missed by neurotypical people without the proper tools and knowledge to nurture them.
While socialization may be challenging, individuals with autism have an array of skills, such as an innate ability to learn at faster rates and retain more information with vivid memory, being experts at pattern recognition, and are deeply creative thinkers to name a few.
The theme for Autism Awareness Month 2023 is “Transforming the Narrative.” We are looking toward a more inclusive future by accepting and supporting individuals with autism in society and the workplace. Here are some small steps we can take as individuals to be more aware of the neurodiversity around us and create natural accommodations for our colleagues, families, and friends:
- Be mindful of differences and do not assume. Create a no pressure environment that has no expectations for social norms. Lack of interaction does not equate to being stand-offish or antisocial. Allow people to choose how they can best show up comfortably.
- Think about the details. Consider the space you create with volume, lighting, timing, etc.
- Bring self-awareness into your being. Learn more, offer support, and be an ally to someone you know.
To learn more about supporting neurodiversity check out B Accessible and B Mindful ERGs by visiting the Sparks Hub.