Embracing Neurodiversity

Bringing Neurodiversity to the House of Commons

Last Friday, I added my voice to the list of people who have called out for change in the House of Commons. I was one of several speakers at the Game Changers Summit, and spoke of the value of being Neurodivergent.

On a personal level this was a HUGE moment for me, it was my first ever public speech (I want to do more) and the first time I have announced to a room that I am autistic. As I spoke to the room, I could see the impact my words had on those listening. There was laughter and tears, shaking of heads in disbelief and nods of agreement. A sea of people learning about neurodiversity, some for the first time.

I spoke of my own struggles and how being diagnosed made me realise that my path to success was through being true to myself. It wasn’t about changing me, it was about changing the world around me. And the world does need to change. At least 1 in 10 people are Neurodivergent. We are not difficult. We are different. Our difference should be valued. We need a change in the world so that this value can be realised, and we are not faced with barriers in a world that doesn’t stop to think about us.

It felt good to spread awareness of Neurodiversity, and I look forward to sharing the video when it is ready.

Since then I have been overwhelmed by the response from those who were in the room. People committing to find out more about Neurodiversity, people telling me that they are Neurodivergent and my message resonated with them, and people wanting me to come in to talk about Neurodiversity to their companies (yes please).

It was better than I could have hoped for, but there is another side to this story.

With some much going on, I had to work hard to avoid overload and burn out. Getting up on stage is one thing, interacting with people afterwards is a completely different thing. Thankfully I had access to a quiet area for when things got too much and a group of people who were my social buffers as people gathered round to talk to me. I also had business cards to hand out to people for future contact as I couldn't follow many of the conversations with the people who were new to me. These small adjustments, made a huge difference to my ability to make it through the day.

At home, my family gave me space at the weekend so I could processed everything, and boost my energy levels after the energy spent in getting through the day.

It was a reminder that accommodations need to be considered in everything we do, even when spreading the word about Neurodiversity. I am thankful that the people around me took time to understand my needs and ensure that I was supported. For me, this was the greatest takeaway from the day.

Author image

About Helen Needham

Helen is the originator and founder of Me.Decoded. A passionate advocate for Neurodiversity, - diagnosed as autistic in her 40's after a lifetime of feeling like she was on the outside looking in.
  • England