If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that our brains work differently. We think, relate, and communicate in unique ways.
That’s why communicating with anyone requires you to be a locksmith of people. You must know your audience at such an intimate level that you’re able to find the right key to the right door, and adapt your strategy to achieve common comprehension.
Communicating with neurodiverse individuals has shown to be a common roadblock for many, largely due to misunderstandings, false assumptions, and lack of awareness.
The goal of today’s episode is to explain neurodiversity, debunk the existing myths surrounding the topic, and discuss how to better communicate with neurodivergent individuals. Specifically, we cover:
- Why understanding neurodivergent individuals matters (6:00)
- The definitions and cognitive strengths and weaknesses of individuals with ADHD, Autism, and Dyslexia (throughout)
- Actionable tips for communicating and collaborating with neurodivergent individuals (56:57)
- How to advocate for yourself if you are neurodivergent (1:05:07)
Related AoC Resources:
Free Access to the Presentation Mentioned: Creating The Optimal Coaching Environment
For books referenced in this episode and other recommendations, check out our newly revamped Reading List
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Nigg, J. T. (2005). Neuropsychologic theory and findings in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: The state of the field and salient challenges for the coming decade. Biological psychiatry, 57(11), 1424-1435.
Thomas, M. S., Annaz, D., Ansari, D., Scerif, G., Jarrold, C., & Karmiloff-Smith, A. (2009). Using developmental trajectories to understand developmental disorders. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52(2), 336-358.
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Brett Bartholomew 0:11
This is our last call for our camp Georgia workshop super easy to fly into Atlanta, you drive about 35 to 40 minutes. It’s a beautiful spot. And we’re doing this in conjunction with play. What’s it about? dealing with power dynamics, dealing with people? How does it help you simple, we have a wide variety of outputs, whether that’s lecture case study reviews, live real time role playing with people on a wide variety of professions, you’ll get video feedback. This is not a place where you’re made to feel insecure or stupid. This is an inclusive environment that dives into very real world issues that we all are going to have to navigate in our personal and professional lives and is led by our very own Ali Kirschner. Ali is an absolute weapon. She brings so many perspectives from helping people with business coaching, to being a national championship winning coach at Stanford University, you will not regret it, you will love it, please, the easiest way you can do go there is go to artofcoaching.com/events. And I’m directing you there because even if you say, Well, I can’t make that one. It is the most up to date resource of all of our events. And there’s only so many excuses you can make you know why? Because one way or another poor communication is going to cost you and you can either deal with it on the front end. Or you can deal with the ramifications on the back end. So be proactive, learn how to be a better communicator, there’s always room to grow, go to artofcoaching.com/events
Welcome to the Art of coaching Podcast. I’m Brett Bartholomew, and at a young age poor communication nearly cost me my life. Now, I help others navigate the gray area of social interaction, power dynamics and communication so they can become more adaptable leaders, regardless of their profession, age or situation. This podcast is for everybody who is fascinated with solving people problems. So if you’re in the no nonsense type who appreciates frank conversations, advice you can put to use immediately, and learning how others navigate the messy realities of leadership, you’re in the right place. I’m glad that you’re joining us. Let’s dive in.
All right, big episode today, this is gonna be one of my most challenging episodes to date, because there is a tremendous amount of information on this topic. And I also want to walk that tightrope very carefully between giving you information that’s empowering, but not getting outside of my scope and trying to diagnose so obviously, this is for informational purposes only. This is meant to help guide you in your interactions, as is all of our material. The inspiration of this or for this rather came from a friend of mine who has been going through some professional struggles, and basically sought more information, and found that she had really fit some of these characteristics for being neurodiverse. And this was not something that she recognized until later in life. By the way, we’re going to get into many famous figures who are in the same boat, people names that you’ve recognized through history, so stick with me, because some of them may surprise you. It also came as a result of several questions we got over the years at artofcoaching.com/question, which I encourage all of you to continue to submit questions that matter to you into we always change your name. We never use any of those specifics. We honor the question, but we honor more importantly, your privacy. So you guys helped build these episodes, you help us create this useful information. So please keep it coming.
Now, over the course of this episode, we are going to talk about a lot of things introduce the topic of neurodiversity talk about its relevance, get into myths and facts. What you know, is this just some new term that we all have to adapt to? Is this some new thing of inclusiveness? You know, you think about the people that are skeptical, and they don’t like learning these new things. And they don’t like accepting science as it emerges, or even just common sense as it emerges, as we’ll talk about, and neurodiversity, especially the the idea that not all of our brains are wired the same way. It shouldn’t take much to recognize that that is a fact. I mean, life happens when you leave the house, go out and meet a lot of people, we’re not wired the same way. There are certain things I’m going to be purposefully repetitive on, I want to drive them home, I want to make sure you get the information. And this is also just a starter point. If you want more on this, just reach out to us at email@example.com. So all right, here we go diving into this and the goal is to give you a lot of examples, not just information so that you can actually use it So as you know, we dive into all things, messy realities of leadership, enhance communication, and understanding what makes people tick. And that’s why we want to get into this incredibly complex topic of neurodiversity, something that’s still often overlooked in leadership and team dynamics. So we’re going to understand a lot, more about this.
Now, when we define neurodiversity, I think it’s important to always start there. This is a term that originated in the autism community in the late 1990s. More specifically, because I always want to give credit where credit is due. It was coined by Judy singer, who is an Australian sociologist. And it has since broadened to encompass a variety of neurological differences. It includes conditions like ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, and of course, autism, itself, amongst others. So in simple terms, all this asserts, is that, as I mentioned earlier, there’s a range of ways in which we think, learn and relate to others, we inherently know that we don’t think learn and process information the same way. If you’ve been to our apprenticeship workshops, we talk a lot about theory of mind, even people that do have similarities and brain structure. And, you know, just anything that has to do in neurobiology can’t pick up always on social cues very well miscommunication is the baseline. But what is striking to me as I researched this topic more is that for much of the 20th century, and prior, the notion that all of our brains do not work, the same was essentially not recognized. So from developmental psychology to the way schools have been run, and curriculums were pieced together in those schools, it was very much the norm pun intended to believe that there was one right way of brain functioning, a one size fits all way of thinking, and anything beyond that was wrong or disordered. And if you followed my work, or our work brought more broadly at art of coaching for any length of time, you know, we are very against the one size fits all stuff. I mean, this is a big part of our mission is I just felt like, no matter what situation I wasn’t life, it was really hard to find books that could guide me with actual tactics, not just principles, and, you know, analogies and stories and, and research like, but give me the goods give me the information and operational guidance to go within it because it was just so broad. And I get that’s part of this system. I understand. That’s what makes books sell. But we also need a little bit deeper understanding, especially in this polarized world that we live in.
Also want to give credit, and we’re gonna get him on the show. In his book, The End of average author Todd Rose reports that really up until 2022. brain scientists believe that in brain imaging, the use of various techniques to directly or indirectly image a brain structure, like when they did this, that there was an average brain like there was an average brain. And he gives credence to Michael Miller, who is a professor at UC Santa Barbara, or at least was, at the time that this was written, began to study how the human brain retrieves memory and realize it. Yeah, there’s no single brain that ever looks like this mythical average, just like all of our bodies look different. Our brains have structural and functional differences as well, we have those unique ways that we retrieve information. So when I go further, I also had more terms thrown at me, which is why I want to help you. There was neurodiversity, neurodivergent, and neurotypical. And really, for the majority of this episode, this isn’t so important, we’re going to focus on neurodiversity. But I want to honor a wide range of listeners, because as we’ve talked about, not everybody wants the same kind of information.
So neurodiversity once again, is this concept simply that humans don’t come in one size fits all neurological normal packages, we differ in terms of brain structure and function. And when we look at things like autism, or ADHD, and dyslexia, these are not so much impairments, as they are natural human variations. And this isn’t from like a warm hug. Cute standpoint, I’m very I’m very much against you know, sometimes I think as society we soften things too much. And you know, we try to be I don’t want to say too accepting that’s clearly not the thing, but we sometimes just don’t say things like it is. But this is very easy to accept, right? We know that there are– the brain is the most complex thing that we know of in the universe. No,computer, not even AI can keep up with it. So to think that there’s not variations of it, and to respect those variations as gifts is just absurd. Now neurodivergent is a term collectively, right? That that describes into or sorry, individually describes individuals whose brains function so neurodiversity is the broad topic. If I have ADHD, I am considered neurodivergent. Or if I have dyslexia, I would be considered neurodivergent. And then neurotypical is the term they use to describe individuals whose brain functions are within quote unquote, according to the medical community, typical or normal range. is right those who do not have neurological differences like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, got that. So neurodiversity is representative of the entire topic neurodivergent is to describe those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and the like, neurotypical those without that, but as we’ll learn in a moment, these are spectral, right, there’s a spectrum of these things. So I think in the past, people think that oh, you have to be like, the guy in a beautiful mind, John Nash, or you have to be, you know, pick your character in any kind of book, movie or real life. And you’re either autistic or you’re not, or you have ADHD or you don’t. And we’ve heard a lot over the years. I mean, when I was a teenager, I remember people being like, oh, people don’t have ADHD, these kids just need to go outside, there is no damn ADHD in the 1930s. There are a lot of things that weren’t in the 1930s. Right, we can look at things like friggin aids, and we can look at things like, way back in the 1300s, that there were not. And then guess what we found out that? Well, this exists. I just watched a three hour documentary on on George Washington, and the man died of a throat virus that basically could have been solved today, with 24 hours or 48 hours worth of antibiotics. So we learn a lot. And we need to be a little bit more accepting on this. So let’s get into this right?
Imagine, let’s bring it into your life. Imagine for a moment you’re assembling a team. I don’t know whether you’re hiring a team or you’re just trying to assemble a team that you’ve already hired to tackle some kind of complex challenge, right? You don’t want to have a team where everybody thinks the same way. We have somebody in our coalition mastermind in the past that was like, I need to hire more of me. Well, no, you don’t. Now you might need one more of you. And I understand that I would, totally go Michael Keaton multiplicity and have at least one more of me for certain things. I think too many of me, I’d lose my damn mind. But I don’t want a team full of me’s. I also don’t want a team full of just completely opposite of me. You want this mix you want, you know, people that are going to be purposeful devil’s advocate not just doing it to be that you want people that help you think divergently and that’s where neurodiversity is great. You want to mix up perspectives, and you want stuff that’s going to complement another’s weaknesses. I mean, for those of you that are comic book nerds, I got news for you. Tony Stark’s brain wasn’t exactly wired like everybody else’s. Right. So neurodiversity is not a buzzword. It’s an acknowledgement once again, that our brains just like our bodies, vary in their architecture and function. It’s an acknowledgment that the nervous system itself is wired, due to a combination of developmental, biological, which we’ll talk about, and really experiential factors, you need to write that down. Right? When you think of what causes these things, developmental, right biological, and those two can go hand in hand, depending on how we want to define them. And experiential. I think another area that I saw this just early on, when I was in strength and conditioning, right, you just saw and I talked about this in my first book conscious coaching, certain athletes were just labeled as difficult Oh, this is a difficult to athlete, or this is and we talked about how there’s different archetypes, and there’s different drives. You there’s so much more to the story. But people get so caught up on this superficial is what I see is what what it is that they don’t ever think like, oh, maybe this person just wired differently. I mean, after all, that’s why my entire life is dedicated towards teaching communication. And that is why we assert that learning how to be more socially Agile is absolutely the biggest linchpin in what you need to be successful on your personal and professional relationships going forward. Because we’re seeing more and more neurodiversity come into the fold, and workplaces and beyond. We’re learning more about this.
So now let’s get into this a little bit more. And remember, I said this at the beginning, for the sake of this episode, I’m mainly going to be focusing on autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, not every single neurodivergent condition, right? So we’re gonna talk about their cognitive strengths, how to coach them, things you need to look out for, if you’re somebody who’s neurodiverse, how to advocate for yourselves. We’re gonna get into this pretty good. So let me start with a quote from the Lancet. We want to have a mix of research and real life here. So excuse me as I read this, right? According to an article in 2021, from the Lancet, they say that ADHD and autism spectrum disorder are conceptualized as discrete, categorical, neurodevelopmental disorders, which originate in early development, and are assumed to be the result of underlying brain dysfunction. Right. So this is saying the way we thought about this was pretty binary. From one perspective, these definitions and provide important clarity for clinical practice, and they were guided you know, they guided research over the last 40 years, but others have argued that alternative ways of thinking are needed. Some challenges to these concepts have been empirical. Now research shows that neither ADHD or autism spectrum disorder are categorical in nature, but rather behave as population In dimensions with no clear cut boundary, differentiating individuals with from those conditions. So and if you want to look up that article will link it, but it’s called the neurodiversity concept. Is it helpful for clinicians and scientists? Because just like me and many of you, right, you hear new terms, and you have to think, how do I internalize this, I know that all of us are so busy, we can’t catered every single individual in every single way. But we can be more mindful and adaptable here. I mean, you’re going to need to be if you want to keep your damn job. Right. So other things talked about another article talked about the impairment suffered by if we want to use the term impairment, but that’s their language in this article, by people in neurodiversity occurs not as an intrinsic part of a disorder, but rather, because there’s a mismatch between their ways of thinking and behaving in their environments. So if you’ve taken my online course Bought in, or you’ve engaged in any of our other deeper content, you know that in the past, we’ve talked about there are very clear things that impact human behavior, like why does this person do what they do? We’ve talked about subconscious drives, which will link the quiz and the previous episode, in that we’ve talked about environment, environment is incredible, incredible influence or a behavior. And that’s both perceived environment and actual environment, social factors, timing and beyond. So we think about this, a lot of times, it’s like, hey, there’s nothing wrong with this person’s brain, we just got to find the right gear for the right Hill. And we’ve got to make some changes in the way we speak. And they speak to us and the environment. And I remember, I mean, I taught a workshop not that long ago, I think it was two or three years ago, where I had three people who in their prework form told me they were on the autism spectrum, either full on autistic, or they are on the spectrum of that. And I remember that was one of the more interesting courses that I had taught because it made me explain things, so many different ways, which really enhanced my skill set. I felt in a way like a lawyer. I know it’s a weird correlation. But lawyers oftentimes, you know, they’ll try to they’ll phrase a question, and the opposing counsel can say, you know, that’s leading. Alright, now we’ve got to frame it a different way. Okay, now, that’s this, okay, now we got to frame it, you have to say things, so many different ways to get it across. And I didn’t look at it as a challenge, I kind of looked at it as a privilege, because I’m like talking about 10,000 hours. I mean, not only did I get my 10,000 hours speaking a very long time ago, but I hope all of you have this experience, because it is like an amplifier, you get like, times 20 points having to do that. It’s the same as when I spoke in other countries, where they had to do simultaneous translation or non simultaneous translation, I looked at that very much the same. And it’s something that I issue as a challenge with some of my colleagues, and also my co workers, hey, I hope you gain more confidence as you present. But don’t you dare start thinking you’re good at any of this until you’ve gone to other countries and had to deal with these translation issues or had neurodiverse people in the audience, it is a completely different ballgame. And it’s awesome to be able to do that.
Alright, so let’s break this down. Let’s look at ADHD first. And remember, I’m not going to go through, I’m not going to diagnose anybody, we’re not going to do the WebMD thing. But we are going to lean on things like the DSM-5, which provides incredibly accurate information and is essentially the the holy grail for diagnostic types of informational type information, informational resources on a lot of these things. So ADHD, and I’m going to paraphrase some of this is essentially a condition that affects attention and self control. And it is more common in boys. We are going to talk about gender differences here. It’s like you can think of it and I heard it described this way. And whether you like it or not, I’m just I’m sharing it with you. It can be kind of like having a supercharged engine. But without power steering or brakes. I mean, the mind just creates connections ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping.
All right, I’m proud to announce our limited time sale is on it has started it has begun from July 10th to July 24th, you are going to be able to get 30% off all of our online courses plus three months free with mighty networks. If you don’t know what mighty networks is it is our non social media community based platform where you get new weekly content from live webinars, mini courses, Q&A sessions, from myself and all of our coaches at art of coaching. You get direct access to our staff are always in there discussing things sharing strategies. These are things that we don’t share on social media. Why because it’s more in depth. It’s more tactical, and this is a better medium to be able to do it. Most importantly, you’re going to be able to connect with like minded individuals. If that’s not your bag, you’re more interested in courses. We have three masterclass style courses for you. If you’re somebody that wants to build your own brand, more importantly, an authentic brand and figure out hey, what’s the best path to take? How do I scale this? How do I start? What if I’m nervous about hiring people? What happens if nobody’s interested?, We got you with that the course is called Blindspot. If you’re very much interested in what makes people tick, how to manage and lead people, and just a little bit of a deep dive into human psychology building, buy in, bought in is going to be the one that you love. And if you are somebody that wants to navigate your career, maybe you felt stuck a little bit, you’ve dealt with some burnout, or whether you’re an intern, the middle part of your career, or the later part of your career Valued is your best go. And the nice thing is, Listen, you don’t have to remember all of these, you can go to artofcoaching.com/sail. All of these courses have trailers, sample modules, and you’re going to be able to get a taste of all of them. And for those of you that feel like well, what if I’m not a strength coach? Don’t worry, right? Even when I recorded some of these as a strength coach, all you need to realize is that it’s applicable to a wide range of professions. We all have books written by people and a wide range of fields on our bookshelf, and we know that they apply. Now I hate to tell you, most professions are more similar than they are different. We all have dealt with challenges in our career, we all have dealt with challenges with leading people. And we have all felt like we have more to offer collectively bought in Valued and Blindspot can help. So make sure in go there now artofcoaching.com/sail, that’s artofcoaching.com/sail.
It can be kind of like having a supercharged engine. But without power steering or brakes. I mean, the mind just creates connections, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping ping, that other people couldn’t even hope to create. And ADHD is not really a deficit despite the terminology of attention, but rather a self regulation issue. I mean, even Simon Sinek, the author of start with why he talks about this, and he was diagnosed with it later. He had incredible difficulty trying to organize thoughts. And you know, it was just really difficult for him. But he was like, I never had a deficit. Instead, I was intensely focused on a lot of things. And this is something I very much relate to, it can be tough for me sometimes to monitor my own impulse control, because somebody presents me with information. And I go like 30 layers deep. I am so curious. I’ve read broadly, I watch, you know, I just intake a lot of information. It’s just how I work. It’s how my brain is. And so I can see connections between seemingly ridiculous things. And sometimes that’s a tremendous benefit for me, because people are like, how do you do that, especially as a coach, other times, it’s very overwhelming in a way that I don’t even think my closest friends or colleagues understand. Because the way I have to interact with my physical environment is different. I mean, I’m talking to you right now I have three screens in front of me, I have to have one for some notes, one for something else. I’m somebody that if you were to go into my closet in my office, I have Sketchpad so I can mindmap They’re like mini whiteboards. For me. I have legal pads, so I can just scribble and write stuff. I have a vibe board. And no, that’s not an advertisement. They don’t pay us. I’ve had to really work to try to figure out what works best for me over the years. And I’m still looking. There have been times that I have literally structured our workshops, as if they were a screenplay, you know, I’ll put the slugline 9am takes place in kitchen. This is what happens. Ali says this, Brett says this. It’s like a script. And so folks with ADHD, and I’m not saying I have it, I haven’t really been diagnosed with that. But I wouldn’t be surprised there there can be difficulty in reining in those impulses. And can you imagine how difficult that is for many of them. When I’ve disclosed you? You know, it’s, I teach communication for a living, therefore, I’m Judged at at such a more intensive scale than many others. Because everything that I tweet or put on threads or put on my newsletter, you know, people just expect you to be this word Smith all the time and don’t always want to be sometimes you just want to say what’s on your mind and go.
So you know, a condition characterized by persistent pattern of inattention, I would add hyperfocus as would Simon Sinek and impulsivity and this is what my friend had said earlier on. She was like I was finishing people sentences. I would find myself dazing off when they talked and I would just anticipate things too much without being in the moment. So it can present as predominantly inattentive. It can also present as predominantly impulsive, or as a combination. Predominantly inattentive presentation can involve difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, easily being distracted. Remember, I’m not saying if you have those things, you have ADHD. I’m not going to keep repeating those disclaimers. Hyperactive impulsive presentation is a little bit different.
Now let’s talk about what’s going on the brain without putting you to sleep. I’m going to keep this very simple. In the brain of someone with ADHD, there may be maybe because the science continues to emerge and as science You know, most people don’t agree in this area. But there are different pathways for how dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter linked to attention and reward and motivation is both produced and received. This affects their ability to sustain attention. So it’s led to some really interesting research, even in terms of, you know, a lot of time. Now, medical marijuana is becoming more mainstream. Well, that impacts a dopamine. So they’re looking at, well, how does that impact folks with ADHD that are low dopamine individuals, I do not think there is such a thing as sexual addiction. That’s just my take. But they’ll even look at folks that have ADHD have higher sex drives, is your tie ins with anxiety there. Because we know that when somebody reaches orgasm, right, they get this tremendous dopamine release, as well as just surge of blood volume to the brain. And and that can start to create these associations and also increased focus. And some people once they achieve climax, hey, it’s if we can’t talk about sex communication, disagreements, money, things that are very real and are rate limiting factors to many relationships. This isn’t the podcast for you. So those are just the facts.
Now, when we look at some demographics here, and by the way, if you want more on what’s going on in the brain just right, and I’ll send you some notes. But I want to just make sure that I give you enough background and then we get tactical demographics. The CDC estimates that as of 2016, approximately 9.4% of children aged 2 to 17 years in the US have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point, as I stated more commonly diagnosed in boys and girls. We’ll talk about that in a moment. And what Well, why is this right? This could be due to the way that ADHD presents, boys are more likely to show certain types of what’s called externalizing behaviors that are associated with hyperactivity. Now, this also ties in with the increase in testosterone that boys have, right? So there’s going to be different demonstrative things that that boys, or even you could look at women with higher levels of testosterone. And those things are more easily notice. Girls on the other hand, and there are these distinctions often exhibit more internalizing behaviors. So they may seem more inattentive, where boys might seem more hyperactive. And that can be, of course, that varies based on age. societal expectations play a role in these influence these diagnoses as well, right, like, if a boy is more disruptive, that can draw more attention in the way they exhibit those behaviors as opposed to somebody who’s internalizing a bit more. And we’ll talk more about differences between the male and female brain as well. There’s a previous episode with Nathan Parnham where we talked about this, we’ll link that in the show, also for you. So for coaches and leaders, and the tip here is just a snack. I’m going to give you towards the end of this episode, after we go through all these points of neurodivergence, I’m gonna give you very strong, detailed takeaways holistically, right, so this is an appetizer, we’ve always got to seek ways and strategies to maintain that attention and manage distraction. This can be asking clarifying questions, this can be including them more, there were times where if I felt like I had an athlete that had some of these tendencies, I would ask them to teach something, it would be the same thing for a staff member. Now, I get them involved. I know the same thing when I was dealing, working with the the folks who are autistic in my workshop, I find ways to get them involved, allow them to speak as to how they perceive things and build off of that. So bear with me, we’re gonna go deeper. These are just Reader’s Digest moments, for those of you that maybe have a quick car ride, want something to chew on, and then want to come back for the deep dive. Right?
So some other areas of the brain. Just to touch on this, I forgot this, and I’m sorry, a larger study from 2017 that involved more than 3000 individuals found that five regions of the brain were smaller in people with ADHD. This included the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotions, very much tied into drives, as we talked about with Professor Antonio Damasio, the hippocampus which plays a huge role in learning and memory, and three areas of the basal ganglia, which are involved in reward and motivation. So you can see the dopamine tie ends and the association piece right there. And when we look at that brain activity, it’s very interesting. We see less brain activity and fMRI on the frontal cortex answering areas that deal with rationality and inhibition and just enacting those things. So consider this right? And remember that these are general trends. There’s a lot of individual variation. Not everybody with ADHD is going to have those exact brain differences include the footnotes from those resources below from the Lancet, the American Journal of Psychiatry and proceedings from the National Academy of Science is in the show notes, so no worries there.
Okay, let’s get on to autism. This is characterized by persistent deficits in social communication, and social interaction across really a wide variety of contexts. And my next book is going to go deep into how we can get better at diagnosing contexts that we’re in so that we can pair that with appropriate communication styles, power dynamics, and the like. Remember, context is essentially the situation setting and circumstances we find ourselves in. And so you can have tremendous variances across contexts with how people present. When we look at a definition of autism spectrum disorder, if we want to look at it another way, it can be thought of as a neurodevelopmental condition that is just characterized by differences in social interaction, behaviors, and and even sensory sensitivities and particular patterns of interest. In one research article, I talked about how it’s not uncommon to see things like Hey, I just deep inherent focus and things like trains, train schedules, dinosaurs, my wife and I looked at each other, because our son is in dinosaur and train world right now. Does that mean our son has autism? Of course not. Remember, correlation is not causation and vice versa. That’s why, you know, I chewed on doing this episode for a while, we tend to have a society that just takes information and runs with it. tendencies of fixation don’t necessarily mean anything related to autism. This is very complex. Okay. Many people with autism spectrum disorder can have not only those sensory sensitivities, and you’ll see in airports across the world, there, they’re creating special parts of the airport. And even in train stations that are a little bit more soothing. For folks that have autism. They can find certain sounds, textures and lights overwhelming. This is why on YouTube and all that you’re finding so many, what’s the word I want to look for channels that give people what is called binaural beats, and certain frequencies of music that kind of calm and are purported to help with focus. So some autistic individuals can have an aversion to certain fabrics, difficulty processing, noisy environments, the folks who were that were at my workshop, I had to really lean away from using metaphors and analogies and idioms. And we’ll talk about how clarity plays a role in terms of how you how you have to speak to them, there’s gonna be three words I want you to remember, clarity, fluency, and audibility.
Clarity is being exceedingly clear, almost impossible to misunderstand. That’s why I say no analogies and metaphors, for people who are neurotypical analogies, metaphors and stories can very much empower us with with a sense of clarity through the subtext. But remember, folks with autism, they’re going to receive that information differently. And so if there’s any ambiguity, that just shows up as noise in the nervous system, so and then fluency is minimizing stutters stammers, essentially disruption and patterns of thought, things that are natural, they’re gonna happen unless somebody is speaking in a completely scripted and rote way. I mean, you’ll even hear me use disfluencies. And I mean, I’m talking to you straight. I’m improvising all of this except for notes and specific definitions that I reference. And then audibility, of course, is fine. As opposed to talking like this, you want to make sure that you can project and I know that can be hard for some of you, not all of us have that kind of voice and it works the opposite way as well. So, demographics according to the CDC, again, ASD affects all ethnic and socio economic groups, it does not discriminate. But once again, more common four times more common in boys than amongst girls, the prevalence in the United States alone is estimated to be one in 54. Children as of 2020. Now, the exact reason for for a lot of these things is still
trying to be determined. As we know like there’s also discussion around diagnostic bias where girls with ASD, just like with ADHD, might be overlooked due to presenting differently than boys. But let’s let’s look at this for a little bit. This is the deep dive I promise you and for any of you that have gone to artofcoaching.com/optimal there is a free presentation you’ll literally get a recording of me presenting in Los Angeles, this was to a group of physical therapists, trained coaches, so on and so forth. But the information is valid for everybody because we talk about how to communicate differently and more adaptively to not only folks who are neurodivergent in a way, but also males, females, teens and the likes, so it is worth it. So I’m gonna borrow some stuff from this. When we look at brain differences and this comes from Simon Barone Cohen, not Sacha Baron Cohen, Simon Baron Cohen, who is one of the lead leading researchers in the world in autism at I believe it’s Oxford or Cambridge, I don’t want to disrupt the show to double check. And it’s been a little bit, but one of those and I believe it’s Oxford. And he talks about when we look at differences in the brain, there is no single neuro anatomical structure that determines general or gender based intelligence. Right? The variances in architecture and when I say gender, here, we’re talking about biological sex. I know that gender is a social construct, but we’re talking about just straight up male and female right now for the purposes of this episode, and clarity. And this is where the research lies within this. And he talks about how variants in architecture are capable of producing equivalent intellectual performance. Well, what does that mean? Okay, so male, female is categorical, it is your it’s kind of like being pregnant, you are either pregnant or not pregnant, you can be at different term lengths in your pregnancy, but you’re either pregnant or you’re not pregnant. Right. So with this, it is not binary like that. Now, when we look at what’s going on biologically, the secretion of testosterone in early development crosses the blood brain barrier, and does alter the development of the brain. From a structure and function standpoint, the word you want to look up or key in here is apoptosis, which is essentially the pruning of neurons, right? We are born with more neurons than we keep, I look at my three year old, we try to get him around all kinds of stimulating environments, because we want to encourage the growth and the connection or the maintenance of certain neurons, right? Where if we just plopped them in front of the TV, and we did that all the time, and we didn’t interact with them, or introduce them to new words or environments, right, we’re gonna see a greater sense of apoptosis. But even just in vitro, due to the presence of testosterone in vitro, we see this apoptosis, so dissection of the brain shows, and this is from a 2004 article from Barone Cohen, that males have 1/3 more neurons than females. But let’s talk about this right? Because as I said, there’s minimal gender differences in overall intelligence. And that’s from an article in 2016. By Ryman hotel, I’ll put as many as I can in the show notes, but beyond a point, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, the show notes will be a nightmare. And they even looked at differences in size, shape and allocation of white and gray matter. And when we even look at that, or we look at gender, like we look at the predictor of many mental health conditions, gender is still a very high predictor of that males are more likely to succumb to drug and alcohol addiction, where females experienced much more depression and anxiety. Right, and this is when he was looking at get ready for this term, frontal, parietal gray matter, and white matter differential. So what does that mean? Let’s simplify it even further.
They also found that the male brain processes serotonin more than 50% Faster than a female brain, serotonin involved with mood and emotion regulation, being overly simple there. But I’m telling you what you need to know none of you are taking a class on this. And if Andrew Huberman wants to come on the show and nerd out about this, I’d love to have him. Men have six and a half times the amount of gray matter than women. This goes into everything I’ve talked about earlier, which gray matter plays a role in information processing. But here’s the crux. And ladies that you’ll love this, women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter than men. Well, if gray matter is about information processing white matter, you can think of it as things that help with the networking between processing centers. So I’ve said this in groups, I just said this at our last group, which is almost entirely female, women tend to make better CEOs and better leaders in certain circumstances, because they have this inherent ability to duck and dive and dodge and adapt and go between the systematization part of their brain, essentially, but also ones related more towards emotional regulation and connection. And, we know this, we even see differences in male and female athletes, a lot of times males, and this plays a role with testosterone as well. Men want to confront and fight and flight. So many women, they’ll tend and befriend. And we see this with a lot of the causes that they champion, they bond together, men, it’s like, there’s so much of this desire to prove now, of course, n equals one, n equals 100. Who cares? Let’s just be real. We’re talking about these are people that have studied the brain for a very long time and dissected it, this is what they found. So what does this have to do with autism disorder and the proclivity or the tendency to have C and more males than females? Well, what they find is, if we look at this, and Barone, Cohen kind of said Listen
Speaker 1 40:00
Because of some of these things, men have a tendency or males to have a tendency to get caught in systematization. They have this drive to analyze and deconstruct systematic relationships, especially in a lot of non social domains. And that’s what we see with autism, deconstructing relationships and non social domains. A lot of times because of the cross hemispheric connection and 10 times the white matter, with females, we see enhanced competency and the ability to identify others mental states respond with a wider range of appropriate emotions. And of course, this varies based on cultural context as well. So essentially, a Barone Cohen’s, he puts together this thing called the empathizing systematising theory, ES theory, which sought to classify people based on their skills in two factors. And he uses this to attempt to explain the social and communication problems in autism spectrum disorders. Right? And he’s trying to sit figure out what does this say? And he essentially said, All right, when we look at this reconceptualization of cognitive sex differences in the general population, and as a way to understand these cognitive difficulties in autism, well, it tends to lie in domains in which he says On average, you start to see in the spectral extremes, males, are always going to lean on that. So like 50%, of if we’re neurotypical, many of us have an adept balance of systematization. And the ability to empathize or connect based on context. And these are his terms, and I get that this is heady stuff, but I wanted to put it in there. And then you know, loosely 20% of the population can lean on strong systematizing, another 20%, strong empathizing, but the spectral extremes where we see an autism, that’s 5%. And so we’re looking at a percent of a percent of a percent. But in part due to those structural differences in the brain, I explain this like shit. All if I could go back and say it again, I just say, hey, more men have more neurons than females, right at birth in vitro, the process of having testosterone impacts the pruning of these neurons, when we look at what any of this means, as it turns out structural differences, right? Men have more gray matter, which continues to enhance just the way they develop in vitro, enhance and kind of reinforce this bias women, despite having not as much gray matter, have a completely different advantage. And so some of this is like, alright, is it predetermined at birth? I don’t know. And really, it doesn’t matter if it is because you can still have somebody that’s, quote, unquote, neurotypical. And if they don’t expose themselves to a wide variety of environments, and outputs and information and things like that, well, they’re not going to do any of this any better than somebody who is deep down on the autism spectrum, but expose themselves to a wide variety of outputs, environments, feedback, right, and socially rich circumstances. And that’s the beauty of it. So you know, I think it gets interesting how sensitive people can get over these male female differences and discussions of sex. But really, if we’re really wanting to be more understanding towards each other, we really want to be more inclusive, then we have to just appreciate a mix of nurture and nature and what the research says. And also know that none of it really defines us no different than saying that somebody that’s autistic, is somehow impaired. We all have our individual strengths. Men have their individual strengths, women have their individual strengths if you identify a different way, no matter how you identify, congratulations, you have your own individual strengths, different races and all that we’re all going to have individual strengths, like there’s inherent differentiation and us in humans, why the hell has this become a negative? Is that the next thing now we’re going to look at?
Brett Bartholomew 43:49
We’re going to continue to look at anybody with ADHD or autism or Dyslexia as less than, well, that’s gonna be not a great path to take, because guess what, here are some well known figures that have this Maya Angelou. She had selective mutism, which was an anxiety disorder that literally causes a child not to speak, or delayed speech due to physical and psychological trauma. Einstein didn’t speak until he was four. Daniel Radcliffe frickin Harry Potter has what’s called dyspraxia beyond the scope of this episode, but essentially, it’s a motor learning difficulty that affects coordination. Steven Spielberg, just recently, in relative terms talked about and if you don’t know who he is acclaimed film director, some of the biggest movie hits in history classics, has publicly spoken about his experiences with dyslexia. We know that Richard Branson dyslexic and we’re gonna get to dyslexia next, Anthony Hopkins who played Hannibal Lecter has Asperger’s. Jamie Oliver popular Chef Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, ADHD and depression Tim Burton original Batman Nightmare Before Christmas talks about he has Asperger’s Well, what about Asperger’s wait Let’s finish the autism piece here to reight the heavy stuffs over.
Alright, so I think another really good person and now I went too long on the last part, so you have to look her up on your own Temple Grandin. She’s one of the most well known and successful individuals on the autism spectrum. She was diagnosed with autism in the 1950s as a child, and grew up at a time when that disorder was really highly stigmatized. I, her mother was told that she should be institutionalized and essentially forgot about the Mom, thank God rejected this advice, and sought out specialized schooling and therapy, which was really, by the way progressive for that time. And Temple Grandin essentially revolutionize the livestock industry. And you’ve got to hear this story by designing more humane handling systems for animals. Now, how the hell did that leap happen? Well, Temple found because of some of her sensitivity, based presentations with her autism, she found comfort by being in in tremendously confined spaces, almost where she was squeezed really tight spaces. And this has to do again with how her brain was wired. And she spent some time observing animals and the way that they just get into it, I’ll go down another rabbit hole. So let’s talk about Asperger’s real quick. And then we’re going to touch on dyslexia, big tips for communicating with everybody in these neurodiverse spectrums, if you’re neurodiverse, like I said, I’m gonna give you tips for advocating for yourself, wrapping it all together, and then you guys are done. Okay, so you have less than 15 minutes left.
So what about Asperger’s? Well as of the publication of the fifth edition, according to my research of the DSM-5, and that was 2013. Asperger’s syndrome is no longer considered a separate condition, Elon Musk professes to having Asperger’s. Instead, they now include that under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder. So previously, Asperger’s was essentially used to describe individuals who were not on, or sorry, who were on the high functioning end of this spectrum, they typically don’t experience the same degree of language and cognitive delays. I know some of you may find that hard to believe with Elon tweets. But I think that if you’re really being objective, it’s hard to doubt the man’s brilliance. These individuals, sorry, I was gonna repeat myself, they may have difficulty with social interaction they do have difficulty with with regulation. I think that’s why it’s, it’s interesting. This is a side note. I do find it hypocritical as a society that we can talk about being more inclusive about folks that are neurodivergent, but all of a sudden, Elon Musk, who has autism, but because he’s a billionaire doesn’t get that same, doesn’t get that same privilege. And I’m gonna use that term strongly there. I think it’s very interesting. If you look at people who talk about being inclusive, and this is not a political thing, this is nothing. But if you look at people to just look at being inclusive and understanding and compassionate, it’s funny who like those rules seem to apply to. And these new rules exist? And it’s like, okay, well, he should know better, he’s got people around him, you have no idea what it’s like to be in his shoes, or anybody else’s shoes, for that matter. So I just think that it pays to be a little bit more introspective as to where you tend to aim your own bias. And then who you give forgiveness to. You know, that’s pretty interesting, because there are a lot of people that have inclusive mindsets that are really close minded. And there’s a lot of people that seem non inclusive, but if you got to know them, they are we all present differently, let’s just be real about that. So anyway, Asperger’s kinda got put under that whole umbrella of autism spectrum disorder. Now let’s look at dyslexia. Now. We had somebody on the show who is dyslexic, and he was a tremendous asset. And I don’t think you’d mind me telling you, he might, but he’s one of my best friends and I don’t really give a shit. So Carl, forgive me. But you’re going to inspire people,
Carl coward, struggled with a form of dyslexia, and incredibly successful will link his show in the show notes. You’ve got to listen to it incredible, incredible individual, very, very talented, smart, wide ranging. So if we look at dyslexia, this is typically a specific learning disorder that like many others, has a neuro biological origin, and tends to be characterized by difficulties with word recognition, poor spelling ability, and and just decoding. Right, it essentially affects the way the brain processes, both written and spoken language. So that becomes like, if you think about that, right, how that presents, they struggle with tasks like reading, writing, spelling, anything like that. And it’s just hard for them to understand complex sentences. Now, I want to find something here. I have this I have a book by John calla Pinto. And I want to make sure that I get this right. If I don’t have it, I’ll have to come back and do it. Another episode, I had it locked and loaded for you guys. And then it got knocked off my desk. So let’s see here. Ah, okay, here it is. Yes, here it is. Alright, so I’m gonna paraphrase the this is the voice by John Callen Pinto I thought this was very interesting. All right. So when we’re looking at dyslexia, some infants when we look at this from a developmental standpoint, because it is not I think a lot of people tend to think that it is just just reading, but it is definitely not a lot of times, John Callen Pinto says, Hey, this is actually a hearing related thing. So after a few months, babies lose the ability to hear speech sounds not relevant to their native tongue, which has huge implications for how infants sound when they start speaking. Right. So even if you look a talks about Japanese people provide a good example, when speaking English adults routinely swap out the R and L sounds saying rake for the lake, and vice versa. They do this because they cannot hear the difference between the English R and L. But Japanese newborns can they can change. So when we when we continue to go on this path of how newborns hear sounds, and he talks about differences in wiring. So he says children that are diagnosed with dyslexia, which is typically thought of as a reading disorder, long believed to be a vision problem. It was actually once called Word blindness. And he said thanks to pioneering research in the early 1990s by Paula Talal, at Rutgers dyslexia is now understood to be a problem of hearing of processing human sounds, Talal has been helping to devise software that slows the frequency sweeps and those consonant vowel transitions so that young children can train auditory circuits to detect different speech sounds, and thus wire them through myelination of nerve pathways, all to improve this. So he goes on and on to think, to say, we can’t be so simple in our diagnosis of thinking it’s reading related, and a lot of this also. And this ties into what I talked about with autism can occur in vitro, and it can be related to hearing related things. So very interesting. All in all, the language processing difficulties in dyslexia have been linked to a lot of functional differences in linguistic processing, such as if you want the nerd stuff, the left inferior frontal gyrus, which is involved in word processing, and the posterior temporal temporal cortex, which is involved in mapping sounds to meanings, people, I mean, some of you, map this out of my voice, and you’re comforted by an aspect of it, you know that there’s purpose behind it, you know, that I care about this stuff. Some of you may interpret it differently. But it’s interesting to know just review that brain imaging studies have shown that when reading, people with dyslexia have less activity in those areas. This is estimated to affect about 5 to 10% of the population. Of course, that varies because diagnosis can be muddy also impacts individuals across cultures and languages.
So tips for coaches and leaders on this, adapt your communication just like prior keep written instructions clear and simple. For spoken instructions, chunk it bullet points are your friend, be patient reading and processing verbal instructions can take longer. For somebody with dyslexia, you need to give them time. You need to give them time. Yes, when it comes to listening, right, we’re able to listen or process 400 words per minute. But remember, folks with dyslexia process that differently, so you need to give them time. You want to use multimodal communication, really something that is important for all of these, you want to supplement written or spoken communication with a lot of visual aids, demonstrations, hands on learning opportunities. This is a big reason why amongst many others, just from a holistic learning standpoint, at our workshops, we use role playing breakouts, small group breakouts, one to one breakouts. lecture we’ll use video picture, we try to accommodate a lot of that to really promote an inclusive environment and one that also just helps people learn.
So all right, let’s consolidate these and put it in a bow for you myths. neurodiversity is just an excuse for poor behavior or performance truth. Neuro diverse individuals experience genuinely experience the world differently due to variations of the brain. It is not about making excuses, but recognizing and respecting these differences and not getting in your feelings and making it you know something about them being weak or them Oh, aren’t they a special little snowflake or whatever, just because you don’t want to adapt? Trust me, you’ll know this is something that cannot be controlled. Another myth, all people with autism lacks social and emotional skills. And I remember this because when I told a friend of mine that I was going to teach that workshop, they thought they were like, how are you going to do that? You know, like, are you going to kind of try to read a blank slate. How is this it’s not Oh, I mean, it presents differently, you just gotta get into it. So the truth is, while social communication absolutely can be a challenge for those on the autism spectrum shit, it’s a challenge for 99.99% of humanity. It is not accurate to say they lack social or emotional skills all together, many can and do form meaningful relationships. A close friend of mine is definitely and admittedly in their words on that spectrum, and very warm, warmer and more thoughtful than some of my friends not on the spectrum. They just require a little bit more understanding and patience. Okay, three more myths. And remember, I would encourage you to share even just this part of the podcasts with your colleagues, people with ADHD are just lazy, your lack of willpower? Nope. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts executive functions like attention, impulse control, and organization, it is not about laziness and willpower, you will find that they can be supercharged. If you just can point them in the right direction and create the right environment, you have to be a locksmith for people. I say this again and again and again, you’ve got to find the right key for the right door and you’ve got to shape that appropriately. You don’t want to do that. It’s okay. Just don’t be a leader or coach.
All people with dyslexia, see letters and words backwards. In actuality, dyslexia primarily impacts the ability to decode and comprehend texts. It’s not about seeing things backwards, but it’s more about challenges and processing phonetic sounds and relating them to written symbols. And I was light on some of the research that John Keller Pinto provided. If you want me to go deeper, let me know. Finally, neurodiverse conditions only affect children and are typically outgrown in adulthood. Symptoms, of course can change over time and the way they present, but most neurodiverse conditions are lifelong and many, such as the the individuals that I’ve been talking about earlier that notable individuals didn’t get diagnosed until adulthood. So it’s crucial to provide support and all aspects of that. We talked about Michael Phelps, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg, Maya Angelou, just to name a few.
All right, so here’s your cheat sheet, tips for communicating with the neurodiverse. And remember, I said I was going to be repetitive because we’re learning something new here. clear and direct communication, clarity, fluency. audibility, try to avoid using jargon or idioms when communicating. If you notice, the individual seems confused, just rephrase your statement. In simpler terms, my team that’s listening, it’s just like we do with rubber chicken, right? Instead of saying, Let’s touch base later, you might say, let’s meet again, today. Let’s circle up at the end of the day, let’s meet specifically at three o’clock. Let’s meet in the lunchroom at 2:30. Let’s meet at two in the lunch room and bring your notebook whatever. Think of how you can be more and more clear. And that clap if you’re wondering what that was. That’s a game that we do at our apprenticeship where we make we put people on the spot, we give them a phrase, and we make them work on that in real time.
Consider sensory sensitivities, so to speak. Be mindful of the environment. I am somebody that I have to have a quiet environment or I can play movie soundtracks Hans Zimmer on Pandora is what I prefer to listen to. I have I can’t have, excuse me a lot of lyrics, things like that all go all over the place. I can memorize lyrics quickly. I need to feel hidden when I worked at my previous job. I remember one time I got in trouble because they had this big bullpen where we’re all supposed to, you know, work together and big team. But I just got distracted. So I would often times go downstairs where the big wigs offices worked. And many of them weren’t in the office a lot. And I’d find a dark office and I would just set up there I do really well, when I’m hidden. I do, I just I kind of want to be hidden. I don’t, I don’t want to be around a bunch of people. When I’m in my own head. I want to create my own kind of crazy lab and I just want to get into it. So be mindful, select quiet, well lit environments. There’s a whole breakdown on that creating the optimal coaching environment. thing that I mentioned earlier. Remember, go to artofcoaching.com/optimal, especially those of you that are shaping conditioning coaches, or therapists, we talk about everything from room lighting, all of these kinds of things. It’s a very in depth guide, check it out, you will like it, I promise. Send it to your kids coach, send it to your friends. It’s applicable no matter who you are.
So and ask other people about their sensory preferences. Remember, like, you don’t have to do that all the time. Like let’s just be mindful. patience and time. Pause more frequently in your conversation, allow them to process what has been said, this is something else I recognize myself sometimes in conversation, I’ll reply a bit too quickly. And I am getting better at just saying hey, I need to process this. Can you give me a few moments. So if you are somebody who’s neurodiverse or even not, I mean, just put that in your repertoire. It doesn’t hurt you to process things a little bit more quickly. You don’t always get that benefit, but it’s important so don’t rush to fill in the silence. validate their contract. musicians writes, I appreciate your insights, let’s let’s pause for a moment to consider this take the overwhelm out of their hands. I, when I was teaching, and I had those folks at the workshop, I’d say, Hey, we’re gonna get through this section, if there’s anything I explained poorly, how about we meet individually during the break? Something that simple. And then if they felt uncomfortable there, find another thing, understand their unique strengths. If you notice, a team member with ADHD is highly creative. You know, don’t don’t get on them for their, oh, you’re not disorganized, maybe get them up at the whiteboard, get them somewhere else. And if that doesn’t work, and that’s a nightmare, try something like just have them lead the brainstorming session, see what comes out, you’ll be really surprised. It can be helpful if they have a routine, right? Consistency is very helpful when you’re working with folks that are neurodiverse. Or if you’re neurodiverse. If you’re scheduling meetings, try to do them at the same time each week, inform the individual in advance if there’s going to be changes, I have to change our team meetings every now and then I try to at least give our team 30 minutes to an hour heads up, hey, can we push I’m sorry, this is what’s going on. We talked earlier about giving explicit instructions. If you’re assigning a task, break it down into smaller, manageable parts and provide written instructions. If that’s beyond the scope of what you can do as a manager and leader, then find somebody else to help you with that. I get that, you know, if you lead a team of 100. And let’s say you have 10 folks that are neurodiverse in some way, and we just look at the statistics, you’re not going to be able to micromanage that. But you need to do what you can to confirm that they understand their role. And the task a deadline. Visual aids are self explanatory, they’re diagrams flowcharts. Whenever you’re trying to explain ideas, try to use checklists, anything that you can tools like Asana, tools, like Trello, any of those pieces, regular check ins, making sure that you’re delivering feedback, so on and so forth.
Okay, so the tips that I’m providing are general guidelines, of course, but they may not apply to everyone in every condition. Some are going to be more applicable to those with autism, such as those with clear and direct community, you know, be clear and direct with your communication. Others like being patient and using visual aids can be helpful for a wide variety of neurodiverse individuals. somebody with ADHD might focus from strategies more on maintaining attention and distractions. Somebody with dyslexia might need different types of support, like written communication, using voice to text, stealing a few tips from a woman named Susan fit cell who’s an expert in the area. She also says guys, I’m giving you a lot here, start the day with music, calming ambient music, 60 beats per minute or less has been shown to help maximize natural lighting. Sometimes overhead lights can be really intense. In my room, I don’t even like this super my home office, the lighting can be really dim, I need something that’s more like daylight. Otherwise, I just it’s I don’t know, it’s a weird vibe, unless I’m working at night. There are some folks that I mean, there’s a reason adult coloring books came back in the day before. Now this could be more you know, if you need a break from work or relaxing focus, I’m big. And I agree with Susan on this encouraging text to speech. A lot of times neurodiverse employees often find it easier to listen to emails, memos and documents rather than read them. And I just recently even had and I don’t know, if it’s individuals neurodiverse we’re working with a really large organization. In August, subtle flex, it’s one of the most valuable companies in the world. And I say that just because it’s an exciting, big challenge. And we had gone back and forth on a lot of emails about you know, what’s this presentation going to be about? Can you send us this? Can you send us that? And eventually I was just like, You know what, there seems to be a lot of concern. I don’t know that it’s going to be mitigated through continuous written text. So I sent a voice note. And I said, Hey, I’m gonna make up the name. Hey, Bill, I’m gonna answer each of your questions one by one here. I wanted to do this via voice note. So no more just warmth, and detail can be conveyed. And I’ll try to keep it under five minutes. And it to him kind of waited with bated breath. The last few days, got an email back and my wife Liz was like, they loved that. They said they’ve never been more confident now. You know, it was just so nice that you did this it was received so differently. So I’m not talking about be the person that bombards people with like a 17 minute voice note and I know some of you are out there and like, I hate voice notes. I mean, do you really hate voice notes? Or do you hate when people leave two to four minute voice notes? And and there’s a limit to how much you can even apologize for a while I was like, scared. I was almost like too accommodating. Sometimes with my staff. I’m like, I gotta leave a voice note. I’m like, hey, you know what, this is kind of the job. Anybody that’s on my team knows I got a lot going on. If anything, I’m going to be detailed. And, you know, I get it, I get that it can be perceived as an intrusion, but on my end, having to write a bunch of stuff, either in an email or that like, that takes away from my thing too. So I think it’s interesting. Bosses are not often given the same grace as employees, especially every day I think I get bombarded now with HBr like how to be a better boss, but this boss it’s like we’re supposed to consider like if an employee wakes up and has like, you know, lost a bit of hair. We’re supposed to all of a sudden give so much grace, like, there is this fine line. And I’ve said it before, be mindful. But you know, we’ve all got to adapt, communicating structure. I had a friend that said, Hey, he’s dyslexic Grammarly helps them, you get it. Okay, there’s a lot here, if you want more just email us. But we’re trying to give you a lot there.
Now, if you’re neurodiverse to wrap this up, here’s how you advocate for yourself. Right, managing overwhelm. If a conversation is moving too quickly or too noisy, it’s okay. To as we mentioned, just ask for a pause or move to a quieter space, carry noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs. If unexpected noises get you. From a processing standpoint, if you need more time to process, it’s fine to use phrases like hey, could I take a moment to process that? Could we slow down a bit? What you said was really interesting. But could you repeat it just because it takes me a moment. misinterpretation. At the workshop, somebody went one of the folks who was autistic had said, I don’t know that I understand correctly. If what I’m hearing, I think what I’m hearing you say is this, can you try again, one person that was on the spectrum just said that this doesn’t make sense. And I said I’m sorry, what does it make sense that you said all of it? Okay. You know, and I know that it’s tough. But if you’re neurodiverse, you’ve also still got to work on your decorum there. And that’s why it’s important these outputs exist, there are communication workshops, you’re always more welcome. For us, we will accommodate and do whatever we can, right. But being neurodiverse doesn’t excuse you from working on your decorum and your politeness, right, like people are gonna adapt. But you’ve got to adapt as well. email communication, you can utilize that a verbal is overwhelming or confusing. Vice versa, if email is overwhelming, find it, find a mix there. And and just try to script some things. It’s okay. We worked with somebody that had a traumatic brain injury. And a lot of times when they reply to us, you can tell they’re reading from a script, and it doesn’t matter to me whatsoever. I think it’s great that they put the time in to do that. I think that’s awesome. I think that is awesome. And then schedule recovery time. This is another thing where I haven’t been diagnosed with these things. But after this podcast, after I teach workshops, I absolutely need recovery time, it is incredibly high stimulus, I would say if I’m anything and this is beyond the scope of this episode, it would be more of like what’s called I hate this name, a highly sensitive person. And that is characterized by somebody that is just information. And in all these activities, it is amplified to the nth degree, right? Like we go so in depth, and we’re so immersed in what we’re doing or who we’re communicating with. And it’s just, it’s as if I absorb radio frequencies from all around the world all at once sometimes. And I’m credit incredibly keyed into the point where sometimes I have to make myself disconnect. There are even times where I have to break my own rule from an eye contact standpoint, if somebody’s asking me a very in depth question, I almost can’t look at them or anything, because I just need to, like block out a sensory piece of information. And I’m very visual humans are all very visual compared to dogs, we have like almost, it’s interesting, like, we are not great smugglers or anything else, or even even in terms of auditory prowess, but we’re all visual. So you’ll see me sometimes close my eyes or look away, just because I’m trying to internalize. So I’ve given you tips now for how to adapt both ways. Whether you’re neurodiverse, whether you’re working with neurodiverse, I think the main thing that you want to reflect upon is just if you’re somebody that’s still not getting it, recall a time when what you said, or what you did wasn’t interpreted as you intended. It just seems like you always seem to come across as aggressive or sudden not interested. Think about that. There’s been times like that, well, that experience helps you relate to somebody who’s neurodiverse, who faces a lot of misinterpretations due to those variances in social communication. Right? So using that you can take a little bit more initiative.
Also think back to a time where you were in an unfamiliar environment, it could have been a new country, maybe you’re at a party, you didn’t know anybody, whatever the rules and norms or the people and what they were all about, it wasn’t clear to you, that to simulates the experience of of what a neurodiverse person can experience almost all the time. Sorry for the double use of experience there. Excuse me. So whether you felt out of sync, whether you felt misunderstood whether you felt like your intentions weren’t clear, this is a daily reality. So just be mindful. The final takeaway, this is not a trend. It’s not a trend. Our brains are as varied as our bodies. And I think it’s in our facilitator course or it’s in another course. We talk a lot. We mentioned the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Okay, so in Japanese in Japan, this is the last piece. There’s an ancient art called Kintsugi, where essentially broken ceramics or items of any kind, but it tends to be ceramics are repaired with tremendous detail with a special Golden fuse lacquer. This is like a hobby. And if you want to look it up K I N T, S, U G I. And the idea is not to hide the fractures, when most people break things or when something’s broken, it gets replaced, it gets treated like broke like it’s broken. With Kintsugi. The idea is not to hide the fractures or to pretend that the object wasn’t broken. Instead, the process makes it part of the objects history. Just like you know, I was hospitalized collectively, for a year of my life, I could sit there and be like, Oh, who am I to lead people, I’ve had struggles, my life’s not perfect I was this. Or I could say, hey, that experience and the subsequent experiences and the things that I continue to go through every day, whether I fail at them whether I succeed, but like let’s say I fail, I’m not broken. That’s part of my history and my learning, right, I’m gonna highlight that. This is why I create a coaching business because I go out and do the things I tell you guys to do. I make it a feature rather than a flaw, the same thing you should do. Whether you’re neurodiverse or not, you’re not broken, they’re not broken. There’s a multibillion dollar industry in the self help or like telling your broken, it’s okay, we’ll fix you screw that. Now, what I want to do and why we talked about the gray area, and you know, helping you lean into the dark side, because every part of you is what you need to succeed, broken, non broken, whatever, lean into that stuff. Right? So I don’t care if you have mental health struggles, I don’t care if you have physical impairments, whatever. You’re essentially Kintsugi. If you want to be you take those experiences, you take that stuff, you take the learnings, and you continue to shape it, you continue to strengthen it, you add ballast to the situation, right? And that ballast helps empower a little bit of boldness. Yeah, I’m being inspirational here, because sometimes people need to hear it, right. So just like the art of Kintsugi. Don’t look at these differences as defects. Look at them as points of pride and resilience. And, and because I’m super cheesy, and because I’m trying to be a better writer. I picked up an old classic the other day, and it was Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms. I loved what he said this was written in 1929. And he said the world breaks everyone. And afterward many are Strong at the Broken Places. The only thing I would add to that is your only Strong at the Broken Places if you choose to be, be more open minded, persist, be socially agile, and figure it out. We all have these struggles. But we all agency to turn friction and attraction. I appreciate all of you very much. Please share this episode with a friend. I know we are not perfect. We don’t try to be perfect. I try to give you the need to know for the now we try to just get right into it straightforward. I know it comes fast. I know sometimes it’s a lot of information. But I’d suggest that you check out our newsletter because we help we have a whole ecosystem that can help you arto coaching.com/begin all of our live events are at artofcoaching.com/events. We also do mentoring. If you want to keep it simple and reach out to us about any of these mentoring staff development events, more resources, just email us email@example.com. firstname.lastname@example.org Until next time for myself and my team. See you soon
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