Navigating Neurodiversity in the Events Industry

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With 1 in 7 people being neurodivergent, how can you make your events and workplaces more accessible for neurodiverse colleagues? We speak to Broadsword’s Content Apprentice, Ryan, on his experience as both a neurodiverse attendee at events and a newcomer to the events industry. 

What is neurodiversity and what opportunities and challenges does it pose?

Neurodiversity encompasses a broad spectrum of neurological differences, including Autism, ADHD, and various learning styles. 

As someone who is high-functioning Autistic / Aspergers, ADHD and a Stammer, for me it means having a unique way of experiencing the world that can bring strengths like creativity and attention to detail. 

However, it also presents challenges, such as navigating social situations, communication difficulties, lack of confidence, or anxiety which could be over seemingly minor things.

Can you tell me about your experience of joining the workplace and offer any tips for neurodiverse people entering the world of work?

Joining the workplace as a neurodiverse individual can be both exciting and daunting, in my case I always expect the worst which definitely can lead to unwanted apprehension or stress. One piece of advice I’d offer is to not to second guess yourself and embrace your strengths and interests, as they can be valuable assets in any job. 

Additionally, it’s important to communicate your needs and preferences to your employer or colleagues, whether it’s regarding work tasks or preferred modes of communication. Feeling understood and accommodated can greatly reduce stress and enhance productivity in the workplace as well as avoid misunderstandings.

How can managers help neurodiverse people not only feel more comfortable but excel in the workplace?

Managers play a pivotal role in creating an inclusive workplace environment for neurodiverse individuals. Providing clear instructions, offering written materials, and allowing for flexible work arrangements can all contribute to a more comfortable and supportive atmosphere. Moreover, fostering open communication and being receptive to feedback can help build trust and confidence among team members.

What is your experience of attending events whether they be through work or in your personal life?

When it comes to attending events, I often approach them with a mix of anticipation and apprehension. While I enjoy the opportunity to learn and connect with others, I may feel uneasy in unfamiliar social settings. Sometimes, I find myself avoiding certain events if I anticipate feeling overwhelmed or out of place. However, with the right accommodations and support, I can navigate these situations more comfortably.

How could an event be tailored to make neurodiverse guests included?

To ensure that neurodiverse guests feel included and valued at events, organisers can consider incorporating accommodations such as clear schedules, written materials and quiet spaces for breaks. Providing advance information about the event format and expectations can also help alleviate anxiety and uncertainty. 

Additionally, fostering a culture of acceptance and understanding where individuals feel respected for their unique strengths and differences can contribute to a more inclusive event experience.