It’s World Autism Acceptance Week. I have to admit that this year is the first time I have been aware of its existence, but its higher profile in 2023 reflects a wider trend of rising awareness, acceptance and also celebration of neurodiversity in workplaces and in society.
The term “neurodiverse” is itself fairly new — it was coined in 1998, by an Australian academic, Judy Singer, as part of her doctoral thesis. Her original work was focused on autism self-advocacy groups, and the emerging movements among people with other conditions who sought an umbrella term for their common cause. It’s extraordinary to think that as recently as the start of the 21st century, most of us would not have had the language to talk about colleagues or family members who are wired differently, or to think about these conditions in a positive way.
I delved further into this topic while researching this week’s Working It podcast, which is focused on how to manage, or work with, neurodiverse colleagues — and on navigating workplaces for those who are neurodiverse themselves. To record it, we went out to London’s Docklands to the Neurodiversity in Business conference.