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Building Community in Neurodiversity

Updated: Feb 11, 2023


I recently came across a unique job application format from LateCheckout. A communities design firm that creates beautiful tools and social products that supercharge communities around the world:


The original promise of the internet was to bring people together, but now it feels cold, sterile and uninviting, like a big-box retailer. The old way of building products was to try to be everything to everyone, but people want to feel a connection to the products they use, be involved in their development, and have a sense of community. Late Checkout aims to connect the disconnected by building products that bring people together and allow them to create, collaborate, socialize, and have fun. Each community is unique and products should reflect that fact, so that when people use a Late Checkout product, they feel at home. Late Checkout invites users to join them in building a more fulfilled future, together.

One of the more unique job application processes I have seen, certainly a very helpful idea for neurodivergent candidates to be able to convey their abilities, rather than only being able to describe them in a setting like a video call or resume. Here is an example job posting:



One optional part is the assignment.


Now I know there are mixed ideas on this part, since many see it as doing "free work" or that candidates shouldn't need to spend hours building something to apply for a job. However I also understand that, at least for my neurodivergent self, simply making a custom resume for each job and reviewing the requirements/understanding the company etc is already a multi-hour task. Plus this is way more fun :)


The assignment overview:


Option 1: A new product for Discord

Scenario:

Discord comes to Late Checkout wanting to build a new product for their users.

Task:

  • What is the product?

  • Who does it target?

  • Why is this a compelling opportunity for Discord?

  • Why is this a compelling offering for the target audience?

Option 2: Turning Spotify into a community based product

Scenario:

Spotify comes to Late Checkout wanting to put community first in their product experience. How do they do it?

Task:

  • What is the feature or feature set?

  • Why those features?

  • How do they roll these features out and why?

  • Which niche communities do they target to begin with?

Option 3: Building for an existing community

Scenario:

We believe in community based products (CBPs). Pick a community and build it a product superior to the one it is currently using (if any).

Task:

  • What is the target community?

  • Why this community?

  • What is the product?

  • Why this product?

Option 4: Community + Web3

Scenario:

Design a Web3 product, platform, experience, service (or otherwise) that builds community.

Task:

  • What is the product, platform, experience, service, or otherwise?

  • Who is the target community or how does this product build community?

  • How does this product, platform, experience, service, or otherwise drive Web3 forward?



 

Building a community for improving neurodiversity and education



Bringing us to the main part of this post, The assignment, for this I select Option 3: Building for an existing community.


Since I have already been building a web-platform/research project for almost 2 years, I thought it would make sense to look at what I would do or how I would build a community for Everything Neurodiversity.


Background: Everything Neurodiversity is a web based platform for education on neurodiversity. It contains around 600+ Ted Talks, Podcasts, Articles, Webinars etc on the topic of Neurodiversity.


Accompanying the site is a full suite of social channels including a subreddit with similar content that has around 580 members and 1000-2000 weekly visitors.


EverythingNeurodiversity.com (EN) currently has 3000 users monthly. The majority from Google search. The most popular pages are Huberman Labs podcasts, Neurodiversity conference information and Ted Talks. This is part because of interest and curiosity and part because these pages simply have more words indexed on google and therefore have a larger target to generate traffic from Google. Overall, of the 600 pages on EN, roughly 80 are in the top results for at least one query on Google.


The mission is to convert this static content to a more dynamic of a community. Let's look at the questions from the assignment to get started:


What is the Target Community?


To select a target community, we first need to think about the neurodiversity community as a whole, then narrow down a sub-community to target. Finally, select a singular focus. For this assignment we are going to focus on the Neurodivergent Employment community and narrow the scope of this community to the problem of neurodivergent unemployment/underemployment.


Within this target we will have the following personas:


Job Seekers - persons looking to perform work

Applicant Seekers - persons who need work to be performed

Gatekeepers - systems and structures in place to match seekers with one another

Advocates - Researchers and community members who are willing to share resources in effort to improve outcomes for neurodivergent candidate's.


Now we will define the target goal:


Education and community as the solution of narrowing the gap of Neurodivergent unemployment (currently estimated at 80+%) with that of the society at large ( typically between 4 and 10%)


Why this Community?


The field of neurodiversity and widespread understanding of the variations of the human mind is still very much in its infancy. The term Neurodiversity was coined in the 90s as part of autism rights campaigns and its use has since grown exponentially, with most of that growth in the last decade.


However the market and information on this field is still very much fragmented, by country, industry, age, socioeconomics and more. The goal of lowering the neurodivergent unemployment rate is closer to becoming within reach now than it ever has been in the past, but unfortunately for all the growth in neurodiversity, the unemployment needle is yet to move significantly.


Where there are people and opportunity, there is a space for building a community.


What is the Product?


Knowledge and Empathy.


What is meant by this is that the actual product itself is knowledge, personal stories, research studies, talks, webinars and frameworks that are useful in building empathy. This problem is not a technical problem where an innovation will create a solution it is a problem of ignorance and assumptions based on that ignorance. These can be countered through creating empathy with community and knowledge.


More specifically, I believe a next logical step would be to build focus and strategy around LinkedIn content and pages. Currently EN has a LinkedIn page, but it is not currently a major focus.


Of all major social media, Linked In is most closely aligned with the target goal of neurodiversity and employment. It is also where a lot of personas already are (job seekers and applicant seekers certainly, with some gatekeepers and advocates).



Why this product?


"To make the world a better place" of course.



Joking aside, this product is near and dear to my heart (I'm an unemployed neurodivergent job seeker, who has spent 4 of the last 5 years in search of work) I have spent this time building resumes, applying, interviewing, taking prep courses and working freelance or building side projects (like this one). I have spent countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars on training and resume services. I just haven't found my fit yet, what was once just really hard (interviewing in person) has been made more difficult in recent years (interviewing via video chat).


I am also not alone, 80% of neurodivergent candidate's are under or unemployed. I use this website as an outlet during this process in very literal hopes of making the world a better place as cliché as that sounds. (so if you are here, thank you for reading! )


This is clearly a dysfunctional system and the thesis is that communication, community and knowledge can help reign it into a more functional state.


How would this community be created?


1. Build graphical and text content around the Education and Training of employers:


Educating and training employers
When asked for the single biggest change needed to help autistic people acquire work, over 50 percent of respondents replied support, understanding or acceptance in the workplace. Meanwhile, a majority of the employers questioned said they were worried about getting support wrong and did not know how to obtain information about supporting neurodivergent employees. We will advance neurodiversity education and advocacy within public and private employers and in the community at large.

Given that 50% of those surveyed listed education or fear of lack of knowledge/incorrect knowledge as one of the biggest changes needed, this area would be the initial focus. Content that resonates with this would include:


  • Graphics that convey data and results of research studies on neurodiversity and employment

  • Videos and highlights from neurodiversity training webinars (many are freely available online)

  • Videos and highlights of personal stories shared from Ted Talks and other personal story based

  • Spotlights and highlights of training and solution providers (advocates)

2. Aim to become a thought leader for informed policies and practices through interactions and engagement.

  • Clear definitions of best practices (pros/cons and why)

  • Clear resources to learn more and why they have been selected

  • Partner and share with advocates and like minded organizations to grow reach

3. Build trust over time, through consistent posting, engagement but primarily by helping to solve the training problem listed above. Sharing knowledge will be the cornerstone




 

Community Building - Getting Started on Linked In

EverythingNeurodiversity LInked In Page is available here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/everythingneuro/?viewAsMember=true


with the help of ChatGPT, I was able to draw up a content plan for the page to get started. I think that having consistent targeted content is very important. At first I inquired about building a community:


Building a community on LinkedIn for your neurodiversity educational platform can help you reach a wider audience and engage with people who are interested in learning about neurodiversity. Here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Define your target audience: Identify the demographics, interests, and job roles of the people who would be most interested in your educational platform. This information will help you to target your content and messaging.

  2. Create a Company Page: To build a community on LinkedIn, you need to have a Company Page. This will give you a platform to share your content and engage with your audience.

  3. Share valuable content: Share valuable and relevant content related to neurodiversity, such as articles, videos, infographics, and podcasts. Make sure to post regularly and consistently.

  4. Engage with your audience: Encourage engagement by asking questions, responding to comments, and starting discussions. You can also share other people's content that is related to neurodiversity.

  5. Collaborate with others: Partner with influencers, organizations, and other experts in the field to create and share content, host webinars, and reach a wider audience.

  6. Utilize LinkedIn groups: Participate in relevant LinkedIn groups and start discussions on topics related to neurodiversity. You can also start your own group and invite people who are interested in learning more about the subject.

  7. Host events: Host online events such as webinars, virtual meetups, and Q&A sessions to engage with your community and provide value to your audience.

By following these steps, you can build a strong and engaged community on LinkedIn for your neurodiversity educational platform.


As this intro, I then dug a little deeper on content and asked for a plan given my specific personas:


Sure, here's an outline for content to share based on your target audience:

  1. Job Seekers: persons looking to perform work

    • Career advice and tips for job seekers who are neurodivergent, such as resume building, interview preparation, and communication strategies.

    • Success stories of neurodivergent individuals who have successfully navigated the job search and landed their desired roles.

    • Resources for job seekers such as job boards, recruitment agencies, and disability support services.


  1. Applicant Seekers: persons who need work to be performed

    • Best practices for creating inclusive job descriptions and interview processes that are neurodivergent-friendly.

    • Case studies and research on the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace, and how companies can leverage neurodivergent skills and perspectives to drive innovation and growth.

    • Information on neurodiversity training programs for companies and HR departments.


  1. Gatekeepers: systems and structures in place to match seekers with one another

    • Information on neurodivergent-friendly assessment tools and methodologies that can be used in the hiring process to accurately evaluate neurodivergent candidates.

    • Research and case studies on the impact of neurodiversity on team dynamics and performance.

    • Tips and best practices for creating a neurodiverse and inclusive workplace culture.


  1. Advocates: Researchers and community members who are willing to share resources in effort to improve outcomes for neurodivergent candidate's.

    • Updates on the latest research and advancements in the field of neurodiversity and their implications for improving outcomes for neurodivergent candidates in the hiring process.

    • Opportunities to participate in advocacy efforts and initiatives aimed at improving neurodiversity outcomes.

    • Resources for neurodivergent individuals and their families, such as support groups, counseling services, and online communities.


By sharing this type of content, you can engage with your target audience and provide them with valuable information and resources to help improve outcomes for neurodivergent candidates in the hiring process.


Finally a Schedule given 4 different types of content, 3 posts per day and 6 days per week:




well, plus a python script to develop a longer term calendar for posts based on the concepts and ideas, might not use this but figured I may as well write it since I'm here:



import random

# Define the list of content topics
topics = [
    "Career advice and tips for job seekers who are neurodivergent",
    "Best practices for creating inclusive job descriptions",
    "Information on neurodivergent-friendly assessment tools",
    "Success stories of neurodivergent individuals",
    "Case studies and research on the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace",
    "Information on neurodiversity training programs for companies",
    "Resume building tips for neurodivergent job seekers",
    "Research and case studies on the impact of neurodiversity on team dynamics",
    "Tips and best practices for creating a neurodiverse and inclusive workplace culture",
    "Interview preparation tips for neurodivergent job seekers",
    "Updates on the latest research and advancements in the field of neurodiversity",
    "Communication strategies for neurodivergent job seekers",
    "Advocacy efforts and initiatives aimed at improving neurodiversity outcomes",
    "Job boards and recruitment agencies for neurodivergent job seekers",
    "Disability support services for neurodivergent job seekers",
    "Opportunities to participate in advocacy efforts",
    "Resources for neurodivergent individuals and their families",
]

# Define the list of content types
types = [
    "Article",
    "Video",
    "Infographic",
    "Podcast",
]

# Define the number of weeks for which you want to generate the calendar
weeks = 13

# Initialize an empty list to store the calendar
calendar = []

# Use a for loop to generate the calendar
for week in range(weeks):
    for day in ["Monday", "Tuesday", "Wednesday", "Thursday", "Friday", "Saturday"]:
        content1 = random.choice(topics)
        content2 = random.choice(topics)
        content3 = random.choice(topics)
        type1 = random.choice(types)
        type2 = random.choice(types)
        type3 = random.choice(types)
        calendar.append([week + 1, day, content1, type1, content2, type2, content3, type3])

# Print the calendar
for entry in calendar:
    print(f"Week {entry[0]}, {entry[1]}:")
    print(f"\tContent 1: {entry[2]} ({entry[3]})")
    print(f"\tContent 2: {entry[4]} ({entry[5]})")
    print(f"\tContent 3: {entry[6]} ({entry[7]})")
    print("")



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