Neurodiversity and my panic for purpose

Jake Lowes

06 July 2022

There are a fair few things I know aren’t my natural strengths and writing is one of them. Even to be trusted to write this blog on behalf of work is beyond me. But in my mind, they’re just letting me think – which is what I do best.

Actually, I’ll fess up, I’m not even typing at all – I’m talking to my computer and it’s writing away as I natter on, which is absolute bliss for folks who think and work like me. Using digital accessibility tools like this saves my neurodivergent brain feeling constrained to my keyboard. This saved brain bandwidth allows me to hop, skip and jump around other creative endeavours in my daily to-do list.

I was never this savvy at work – in fact, I’ve been struggling since school to now. But I’d have to thank my past self for standing up and owning up that I am struggling with my dyslexia and dyspraxia in the workplace, as now it’s a part of my personality and no longer haunts me. I’d also have to thank my employers here at Don’t be Shy for understanding and facilitating the progression and paving the pathway toward where I am today as a proud neurodiversity advocate.

I no longer feel the need to “mask” my struggles or quietly explain why I’m stuck at a roadblock that is seemingly little for those who are neurotypical. There are a few milestones I’ve identified that helped me arrive where I am today. Let’s break these giant strides down into smaller steps:

Folks with SpLDs have their very own ways of working, and when it’s tried, tested and triumphed well within the company, its operations and culture are then moulded to the strides taken.

Shout up!

To start off, you should be your own best mate. If you’re stuck and struggling with something regarding your neurodiversity, let your senior team know when confident to do so. Daunting, yes, but they’re there to help. The major stride here is to accept that you can’t change the way your brain works, but you can learn how you can work with it and how employers can, too. Creating discourse opens up a safe space around the struggles you may be facing and helps you move forward.

 

Create action

Apply for an ‘Access to Work grant’. If you’re already assessed and diagnosed as someone under the Specific Learning Difficulties umbrella (SpLDs) and employed in the United Kingdom, you’re able to apply for one from the government. This application takes little time to complete, but helps you for a lifetime. You’re listened to, have your work challenges assessed over the phone and are granted funding for a plethora of things to help you day-to-day. I received disability impact training and coping strategies to help piece my best practices together. I ended up exploring how I work – not how I should work – which was a liberating experience.

 

Find the words, find your voice

Communication changes format every day. As a motion designer, I find it very fitting to use visuals when communicating digitally, from emojis 😁 to videos 🎥 where you can share your screen and chat through your ideas. It’s way quicker than typing for me, as it takes me at least 10-15 minutes to type a paragraph that might not even make sense by the end.

But this isn’t just for those in the SpLD umbrella; this helps everyone. How? Well, it helps cut through the barriers of time – time that people don’t always have for a ‘quick Zoom call’, and for yourself as your time is precious, so save it wisely. With all these selfie explainer videos, it’s helped me with my verbal comprehension, so I’m now much more confident in everyday pitch work and presentations than I used to be over a year ago.

Folks with SpLDs have their very own ways of working, and when it’s tried, tested and triumphed well within the company, its operations and culture are then moulded to the strides taken. Bridging the gaps between the individual, culture and company is the pathway toward better inclusivity, accessibility and happiness.

 

Become an advocate

Lastly, start being more open about your SpLD with your colleagues and friends in a safe space. The more you practise the act of chatting about it, the more you’ll help the conversation within yourself about who you are, what you’re capable of and gain confidence in your strides as you progress in your career. You can now add ‘Dyslexic Thinking’ to your LinkedIn skills, which was championed by Richard Branson and the Made by Dyslexia charity founder Kate Griggs.

How great is that? A skill, a talent and a strength finally recognised on a global social platform! Go add yours now and start that conversation. 👍

 

I’d like to welcome those in a similar position to where I was two years ago to follow the steps jotted above to help develop a safer space for those neurodivergent. Pass it on to a friend, colleague, CEO, manager, and your future self. Cheers.

 

Helpful links:

https://exceptionalindividuals.com/neurodiversity/

https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work

https://www.instagram.com/dyslexia_in_adults/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/truthaboutdyslexia/?hl=en

https://open.spotify.com/show/4buJpJo87nApXmUxoXYFpZ?si=59bc1fac9e974d27

https://www.madebydyslexia.org

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk4T--PtUqA

Jake Lowes

Jake is a Midweight Motion Designer. A North Easterner pathing his path in the North West, he champions neurodiversity and an egalitarian approach to creativity and design.

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