It’s Neurodiversity Celebration Week!
This week is “a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. It aims to transform how neurodivergent individuals are perceived and supported by providing schools, universities, and organisations with the opportunity to recognise the many talents and advantages of being neurodivergent, while creating more inclusive and equitable cultures that celebrate differences and empower every individual” neurodiversityweek.com
We asked some of our neurodiverse team members about what being neurodivergent means to them…
“I love that it is Neurodiversity Celebration Week, as that is exactly how I view my own ADHD—I celebrate it. As I grew up, I always struggled with being distracted and things constantly jumbling around in my head, but it wasn’t until I suffered some bad mental health issues and receive some incredible support that I was then diagnosed with ADHD.
“Suddenly, everything slotted into place across a whole host of things up to that point. I was able to start seeing how the way I functioned helped me be more creative, more innovative in my approach and able to maintain excitement and enthusiasm for complex pieces of work, when previously these things could conversely help drag me down.
“I don’t tend to talk about my ADHD much as I don’t need to, but I recognise that it is there. I use it to help me think differently and have put in place a range of simple mechanisms to help keep me focused, to remember to go back to tasks I get distracted from, and to not letting myself get too carried away with exciting new ideas!
“Well…sometimes I do let myself get a bit too excited about a new idea, but only when I get that gut feel I have unlocked something that has the potential to create a bit of transformation. So here is a big hurrah to celebrating neurodiversity! It makes me who I am…even if it does mean the team have to put up with me humming in meetings sometimes when there is silence to contend with!”
Paul Roberts, he/him, CEO
This poem is an exploration of my own neurodiversity and things that take place within my own mental health: focusing specifically on ADHD & Maladaptive Daydreaming. I come from a ND family, and a lot of things were normalised in my household as a child.
As I’ve gotten older and come to understand more about my own mental health and other impairments that I live with, I feel like I can finally frame my life experiences and step away from the concept of feeling “broken”. Even still, with the knowledge I’ve gained, this poem explores that ongoing struggle of living within a world that wasn’t made for us – and how stepping into the unknown can impact people who struggle with change or processing.
Nothing typical about me
stillness has never come easy to me
nothing feels like those frantic
my erratic heart
tangled in-between bed sheets
where I never sleep
just sink deeper into my insecurities
I don’t know how to be “normal”
I have never been “normal”
playing make believe
stories that you wish were true
reality doesn’t feel real so I create my own
worlds to get lost in
versions of me
that are more than I could ever be
an elevated self
lost in translation
somewhere between the daydream and the present
I don’t always know which is which
happiness unsettles me
it’s like I don’t know how to feel the word
the stillness amongst the chaos
the chaos that has turned into comfort
nothing ties me here
holds me here
and yet my feet don’t tread bravely
they don’t move at all
quaking at the thought of the unknown
even if this step brings everything I’ve asked for
will I be ready
and more importantly
will it be enough?
Nikita (she/they) is a writer, published poet and social commentator who advocates for an intersectional lens and approach to be utilised – she is committed to spotlighting the ‘other’, those who are chronically unheard and underrepresented within society. Nikita is particularly interested in the power of creativity, and how it intersects with disability and identity.
Nikita Chadha, she/they, Racial Justice Engagement Officer
“Happy Neurodiversity Celebration Week! I really love that the focus of this week is the celebration aspect of being neurodiverse which is something I struggled with for the longest time but now feel towards being an autistic person.
“Being autistic makes me experience the world in different ways but the thing I love most about it is being able to be focused creatively and passionately about something in particular, which is what we call hyper fixation. It’s only in recent years that I was diagnosed with autism, mainly because it had taken me so long to accept this part of myself but I’m so happy that is something that I can now celebrate.
“Growing up had its share of struggles and difficulties, I knew I was different than other people and how I experienced certain things. Learning to love and accept my autistic self has been a journey but one I’m glad that I’ve been on. It has its ups and downs, I don’t always end up in the exact destination that I expect but once you get to the end it’s beautiful.”
Leo Kirkpatrick, he/they, Communications Officer
“It’s such a joy to have a neurodiversity celebration week. For a long time, I assumed that the way I navigated the world was just the way that everybody lived and that some parts of being a person would always feel wildly difficult or confusing.
“Learning more about the richness and variety of neurodiverse experiences and understanding the ways these can be strengths as well as challenges has helped me to learn more about myself and find mechanisms to thrive as someone with ADHD.
“Hopefully neurodiversity celebration week will offer other people the same opportunities to find joy in what makes them different and encourage everybody – neurodivergent or neurotypical – to understand neurodiversity.”
Hels Bowie, they/she, Head of Partnerships & Development
“Though neurodiversity has been present in a lot of my life it has only been a little over two years since starting to accept myself as someone who is autistic and ADHD, and it has been a tumultuous journey.
“The existence of Neurodiversity Celebration Week is so important because societal attitudes towards neurodiversity are overwhelmingly negative and the personal battles, fuelled by stigmas and frustration at struggles caused by living in a world suited to a neurotypical way of being, make it easy to forget to celebrate our neurodivergency.
“Just some positive examples of my neurodiversity are that it makes me a creative thinker, my pattern recognition means I pick up on potential down-the-road concerns that other people don’t think about, my passion for the things I am interested in is so vivid, and my connections with other neurodivergent people is a positive experience which I cannot find the words to convey.
“Neurodivergency, though it comes with its difficulties, is such a beautiful thing and it is extremely empowering to celebrate it.”
Damien Da Silva, he/him, TRANSforming Futures Grants Officer