Why I believe Neurodivergence is a superpower

  • Posted on March 21, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

Life has shown many people that the generally accepted social construct is neither Inclusive nor is it Diverse. And when you do not fit within this construct you tend to be treated differently, whether it’s via biases (conscious or not).

One of the great things about our society is that we are all different. No two people are exactly alike. We look different; we think different; we are different. Yet, somehow, we are all grouped into a “norm” that is problematic and damaging to those that don’t fit nicely into that little box. A box, which way too often, resembles a neurotypical male.

As a woman, I am in a constant battle to prove myself and my worth to employers and co-workers. I have watched someone else get credit for a coding project that I completed. He was promoted as a result. All this while I was told by my manager that I was not good enough. I’ve trained male co-workers (with less knowledge and experience) who earned a higher salary. I have had ideas in meetings be negated, only for a man to ‘come up’ with the same idea and watch him get praised. Even worse, I was once fired for an issue with a server that I did not know even existed. In all these situations, I was the only female in the room.

As a woman with ADHD, I’ve been looked over in interviews for not appearing confident. I’ve also be told that I did not provide the desired amount of eye contact. And yes, there is also fidgeting, and even freezing when put into a role-play situation. 

To counteract the fidgeting and to maintain focus, I started taking notes during meetings. Only to be told that my tool for success was distracting and to stop using my neurodivergence as an excuse to not listen. This interaction depleted my confidence of who I am and what I have to offer. I started to wonder what is wrong with me. Why can’t I be like everyone else? 

I spent a decent portion of my adulthood wondering why I was not good enough. Wondering what is wrong with me. Why can’t I be a respected professional in my Industry? Why am I not good enough of as a person? Why do I struggle with things that others deem relatively simple?  Why is it so hard to maintain focus and stay on topic? Why does my mind go blank when asked a question I know the answer to? 

With time and an ADHD diagnosis, it all came together like a puzzle, and I could finally see the big picture. And with this, I realized that I am not a reflection of their view of me, and I will unapologetically be me, regardless of stigmas.

It is no longer what am I but who am I? I am a neurodivergent woman with ADHD. Neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences aren’t necessarily weaknesses. They are simply variations of the brain that do not need to be fixed or cured. Neurodiversity can be a superpower which needs to be accepted and fostered within the workplace.

So why does a workplace need more inclusivity and more diversity? It is because people like me challenge the “norms”. We challenge old habits. We bring resilience. We are intuitive and creative. We are great in crisis and can, at times, overt other crises due to our excellence in observance and pattern recognition. Leaving an issue unresolved rarely happens.

Being a female neurodivergent is my superpower. It’s what makes me different. And we are all different. This is why I am encouraging everyone to celebrate and embrace the differences in all of us. 

Together, we can #breakthebias.

Rachel McNamara

Thank you for sharing your story, April. I can relate on many levels. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD in my 30s. Honestly, this diagnosis was easy for me to accept once I understood the signs and symptoms. My ADHD diagnosis has been transformational, to say the least. It has given me more confidence as a person, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a colleague. It has given me fresh perspective on my past and a clearer look into my future. Like you mentioned, there's still a lot of sigma around ADHD and specifically ADHD in women, because symptoms can present differently and often times diagnosis is given later in life. But, I hope speaking up and sharing my experience (just like you did) helps #BreakTheBias, even just a little. Superwomen with superpowers - unite! 

March 23, 2022

Jodi Stiegelmeyer

I could not love this more! Thank you, April!

March 23, 2022

Stella Goulet

Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights. The'y're so important to helping us #break the bias.

March 22, 2022

Katey Jackson

"All this while I was told by my manager that I was not good enough."

- this is what we are working to overcome. Thanks for sharing your story and opening up about your superpowers. 

March 22, 2022

Paul Bifford

I am so glad you are sharing this. People learn through narratives, and I've learned from reading your experience. I've identified in places (e.g., others getting credit and expressing ideas). But I see where it's different, and I feel so much empathy when you getting criticized for your tool for success. That's really a point to pause on and think about - exploring with someone - before reacting. I'm glad you are seeing it as a superpower and that Avanade is a place where you can express that and we can celebrate our differences together. 

March 22, 2022

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