Celebrating Neurodiversity in tech

Lisa Wood / Marketing and Communications Lead | 18/03/2024

This week is Neurodiversity celebration week.
We had a quick chat with Ruth Mills, Software Engineer at Naimuri, about what it means to her and how neurodivergent talent can be celebrated in tech.


Explain what Neurodivergence means?

It’s where a person thinks, feels, behaves and/or processes information in a different way from most people, due to divergence in mental and/or neurological function. Examples include autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia.

How did you discover you were ND?

My late wife (who died in 2017) knew people who were on the autism spectrum, and noticed traits in me that were similar, and suggested that I go for an autism diagnosis. So I was formally diagnosed with mild autism in 2004.


How did you feel when you found out you were neurodivergent?

I felt relieved that I had a diagnosis, and that this helped explain both positive and negative traits that I’d experienced as a result of my autism.


You work in the tech industry and it is widely talked about that neurodivergent employees are hugely beneficial within this sector. Why do you think this is so?

There are traits such as a passion for technology, the ability to hyper focus on solving a problem, creative thinking and visualisation, and highly developed skills with language, logic and maths, that are common in neurodiverse people, which can be a massive advantage when working in tech.


Have you always felt supported within the tech sector?

Mostly, but not always. There have been one or two roles in the past that turned out not to be a good match for me, where, in hindsight, I can see that the ways of working were not suited to my way of thinking. With one role in particular, I hardly ever got any feedback as to how I was doing, so I assumed the worst, and ended up resigning because I didn’t think I was good enough, even though I was actually performing really well.


This week is neurodiversity celebration week. How can we continue to raise awareness of and celebrate neurodivergent employees?

One place we could start would be to celebrate neurodiverse role models in STEM, such as Alan Turing and Albert Einstein. Then we could look to educate people on the different types of neurodiversity, and how these might affect people in the workplace.


What more can employers do to support neurodiverse talent in the workplace?

I think a great place to start would be asking neurodiverse people if they have any specific needs or adjustments that could be made in the workplace - for example, having somewhere quiet to work, where they can focus without distractions, having regular breaks during meetings, or having instructions for a task in writing rather than verbally. Having regular feedback as to how you are doing is also really helpful.


How can we educate people and wider society about neurodiversity?

I think having an understanding of neurodiversity and how it affects people could be a good place to start - so that, for example, if you see someone criticised for behaving in a certain way, you could help explain that this could be as a result of a neurodivergent condition.


What would you say to someone who has just discovered they’re neurodiverse?

I’d be very supportive, and offer them a chance to chat and compare notes from my own experience.



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Lisa Wood / Marketing and Communications Lead

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Lisa Wood / Marketing and Communications Lead

18/03/2024

Lisa Wood / Marketing and Communications Lead

11/03/2024

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