The Healing Power of Good Jobs for Neurodivergent People

The Healing Power of Good Jobs for Neurodivergent People

The Healing Power of Good Jobs for Neurodivergent People

A Response to Nancy Doyle’s Article

A Response to Nancy Doyle’s Article

A Response to Nancy Doyle’s Article

Teal Flower
Teal Flower
Teal Flower

Introduction

I recently read a piece on diversity, equity, and inclusion— or D.E.I.— that I feel is important to share. It was written by Nancy Doyle, the founder of Genius Within, a company specializing in neurodiversity and disability inclusion in the workplace. She is also a Professor at the University of London. One of her recent works, “Good Jobs Have Healing Power for Neurodivergent People,” made me reflect on my personal experiences as a Black, Indigenous, and Autistic human who has gone through my fair share of jobs. My purpose for writing the following is not to criticize but to relate and exemplify this impressive article and the way in which other people may find it relatable, either as a minority population, neurodivergent individual, or any other quality that makes them unique.

Doyle’s article, as the name implies, examines the ways in which the presence of a good job in the life of a neurodivergent human being can have a positive impact on their day to day lives, even extending into the healing of psychological trauma which many autistic people experience throughout their lives. 

Why Everyone Should Read This Article

In so many ways, this is an article very much needed for today’s society, in which accessibility resources are often lacking and often only exist in the workplace as an afterthought. 

When it comes to neurodivergent or Autistic individuals like myself, it can be overwhelmingly difficult to find a job. My past struggles encouraged me to explore how the workplace influences neurodivergent people through reflecting on my own experiences, reaching out to others, and conducting research. My findings concur that: 

  • Many people face financial, racial, and gender barriers to receiving an Autism diagnosis, especially women and people of color.

  • Neurodivergent cases of Autism often overlap with ADHD and other syndromes. Symptoms present themselves differently for each individual, making it hard for employers and coworkers to understand the difficulties of neurodivergent people. 

  • Jobs requiring extensive social interaction, exposure to bright, fluorescent lights, and completion of repetitive tasks can be even more challenging.


However, Doyle notes that it is entirely possible for a neurodivergent person to not only succeed, but also thrive in a work setting when the environment allows their talents to manifest. 

“We might find ourselves in a role that plays to our strengths but minimizes our challenges. For example, a dyslexic or ADHDer with strong visual and mechanical skills could find themselves in hairdressing, care work, media, construction, engineering, warehouse logistics. In these roles, a minimal requirement for sitting still or literacy can be liberating."

For people like me, it can be challenging to find a workplace with the right balance of interaction and challenge without experiencing a state of “Autistic Burnout,” where sensory overloads can inhibit my ability to complete a job. It is increasingly challenging to find good jobs because the concept of the perfect job, a dream job, or even simply a good job will look differently for each person. In my experience, retail jobs, for example, added sensory difficulties to my already trauma-inundated and creativity-driven system. However, others may find it to me stabilizing and refreshing. 


Closing Reflections

It takes time to find a job that can combine someone’s passions and interests with the ability to make a stable income. It takes even longer to turn this job into a life-long career. As I persevered through countless minimum wage jobs that did not support my differences, it took me years to find a job that filled those gaps. I am now fortunate enough to have a job where I can combine my love of writing with creating lesson plans for an online curriculum designed for people like me, where inclusivity and representation is the backbone of my work. I believe lack of representation and overall fulfillment was a large source of my past trauma, and finding a supportive job played a big role in my own healing. But it wasn’t until reading and processing Doyle’s article that I was finally able to put this feeling into words. Doyle exemplifies the idea that a comforting workplace environment not only helps Autistic individuals with their self-esteem, but it also helps us heal from years of trauma. 

“Making work a positive experience for neurodivergent people isn’t just about harnessing talent or maximizing profits. It’s also about social justice and recovery.”

This quote makes me wonder: What greater way to promote social justice is there than to encourage someone to pursue happiness and fulfillment at work?



Andrew Sanchez: I am a Curriculum Specialist at Social Optics. Born and raised in New York City, I’ve grown up with an appreciation for inclusivity and representation for all people. I identify strongly with my North African, Portuguese, and Taino Indigenous heritage, as well as my neurodiversity. I struggled with my identity as a child, and my experience with standardized education was shaped by my undiagnosed Autism until the age of 25. Throughout my life, I have been writing and publishing blogs on social media. Now, as a curriculum writer, I approach writing from the perspective that we can best support students of all ages by providing them with an unshakable foundation of who they are and how they can overcome individual challenges to become the person they want to be come, thus preparing them for real life challenges presented by our ever-changing world.

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All Rights Reserved. 2024 Social Optics Inc.

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All Rights Reserved. 2024 Social Optics Inc.