Neurodiversity

Australian sociologist Judy Singer, an autistic person, coined the term “neurodiversity” in late 1990s. Harvey Blume popularized the word in a 1998 issue of The Atlantic and said, “Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? Cybernetics and computer culture, for example, may favor a somewhat autistic cast of mind.”

Neurodiversity is a concept where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. These differences can include those labeled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others.

Source: NCCJ & WIRED

Read more in the Harvard Business Review article “Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage” – by Robert D. Austin & Gary P. Pisano

Autism

Autism is a condition whereby individuals feel, perceive and experience the world in a different way. Individuals on the spectrum may communicate and interact in different ways. They may:

  • have difficulties with interpreting both verbal and non-verbal language like gestures or tone of voice
  • find it difficult to use or understand facial expressions, jokes and sarcasm
  • have difficulty ‘reading’ other people – recognising or understanding others’ feelings and intentions – and expressing their own emotions
  • have a daily routine. For example, they may want to always travel the same way to and from school or work, or eat exactly the same food for breakfast
  • have intense and highly-focused interests
  • may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colours, temperatures or pain

Each individual on the autism spectrum is unique, with their own strengths and challenges. However, research has demonstrated that many autistic individuals have exceptional skills (over an above that of individuals without autism) that can be of benefit in any number of jobs. These include:

GREAT ATTENTION TO DETAIL

HIGH TOLERANCE FOR REPETITIVE TASKS

SUPERIOR PATTERN RECOGNITION

ABILITY TO CONCENTRATE FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME

SUPERIOR SPACIAL PROCESSING

HONEST, RELIABLE AND HIGH INTEGRITY

STRONG AND INTENSE INTERESTS

Prevalence

  • Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified average prevalence of autism between 1% and 2%.
  • Autism is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. 
  • In a study in the US in 2016, amongst children aged 8, prevalence of autism was estimated at 1 in 54. The prevalence was 1 in 34 for boys and 1 in 145 for girls.