Naquita Lewis recently attended the Neurodiversity stage 1 course at the PCS office in Cardiff.
Why I attended the course
This was the first PCS course I’d ever attended because of work commitments, however I was free for the entirety of the course and was really interested in the topic. I have friends and family members who have neurodivergent conditions, and we also have members in our branch who are neurodivergent.
I took the course hoping to understand the range of conditions better, how they can affect people in the workplace, what the law is around this issue and how the union can help support its members.
The course covered all these issues, and was very interactive and informative. I think everyone should take this course, as there are a lot of misconceptions out there, like with mental health, and even those who are aware of their rights are still often disadvantaged or discriminated against in the work place. If we could raise awareness of neurodiversity and how to support neurodivergent people, it would likely improve the workplace for many.
What is neurodiversity?
Simply put, neurodiversity is ALL of us! The human race is hugely neurodiverse, which means that different people have different "brain-wiring". Most people are known as neurotypical, however some people – including colleagues, friends, children and family members – will have an identifiable neuroatypical condition, such as dyslexia or autism, and are categorised as neuroatypical or neurodivergent.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about neurodiversity. It's important to note that people who are neurodivergent ARE NOT ILL. However workplaces and society can cause neurodivergent people difficulties and they can face misunderstanding and discrimination. For example, dyslexia is commonly associated with slow reading and poor spelling, but on the flip side, dyslexic people often have better visual memory and peripheral and spatial knowledge.
Neurodiversity and disability
I was really interested in the social model of disability, which says that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference. It’s not about what is “wrong” with the person, but about the barriers in society caused by people’s attitudes or by physical things like bright lights or non-accessible toilets.
This applies to neurodiversity (“hidden” disabilities) as well as physical disabilities.
I’d really encourage all reps to attend the neurodiversity training so that you can help more people in your workplaces.
But even if you’re not a rep I’d encourage you to become aware of neurodiversity so you can support your colleagues, and I’m sure you’d also find it helpful in your everyday life outside work.
We must fight for all, especially those who face disadvantage and discrimination. Opportunities need to be widened and support strengthened, not cut back under the excuse of "austerity".
See the events pages for details of a Neurodiversity training course near you. Neurodiversity Stage 2 is also now being offered for those who have already attended Stage 1.