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The future is neurodiverse webinar

This is the full recording of our virtual HR webinar "The Future is Neurodiverse" featuring Christa Holmans, hosted on Thursday, June 25, 2020. More info about the event could be found here: Contact Christa: ------------------------------- Viability Employment Services Email: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Linkedin:


Unknown Speaker 0:13

So good afternoon. Thanks so much for coming to our first virtual neurodiversity HR workshop. If you don't know me, my name is Liana, and I am the chair and one of the cofounders of viability. viability is a youth led nonprofit organization that aims to empower neurodivergent youth to find gainful employment opportunities and be leaders in their communities. We are a collective of neurodivergent and your typical youth working in partnership and include neurodivergent individuals at all levels with over 50% of our executive team comprising neurodivergent youth as well. since our founding in December of 2017, we have grown to provide a range of community services including job search support, professional development, peer to peer mentorship programs, workplace talks, and forming partnerships with employers to support them and meeting their business goals. If any of these things sound of interest to you, or you would like to learn more about us, please message interested in the chat. And we'll email you to set up a call and from there talk more about it. We want this event to be fully accessible, which means that we encourage all attendees to participate in the way that best suits your needs. Whether that means walking around, fidgeting, stimming, taking breaks, whatever really helps you get the most out of this workshop. We'll also be doing our best to live close caption the show. So if you would like to use this service, please note that's an option. You can access it by clicking the CC button at the bottom of your zoom screen. After the workshop, we'll be going through a question and answer period where you'll have the opportunity to ask Christo or us any questions you may have. For now, if you have any questions, feel free to use the q&a feature on the bottom of your zoom screen. It should be in the bottom right hand corner, and we'll come back to them at the end. Now without further ado, I'm so excited to introduce our speaker Krista homens. Chris is a central Texas native with a diverse business background. Her core focuses have included roles and customer service, project management, employee relations, recruiting, hiring and retention, marketing, operations, leadership and administration. It's a lot out of out of the box thinker with a proven track record of helping organizations business owners and teams to create more efficient and harmonious workspaces. Krista has successfully worked to help organizations of all sizes but will admit to having a soft spot for startups and small businesses. corporate and personal branding are her passions. Chris enjoys helping organizations, leaders and influencers to define and reach their unique customer base. Founder of neurodivergent Consulting and the internationally recognized neurodivergent rebel blog. Christa currently enjoys living in an RV full time with her best friend and partner David along with four dogs. You can give it up for Krista by using react button at the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

Unknown Speaker 3:01

Thank you so much. I am really thrilled to be here. Let me take over the screen and put the visual on the presentation for everybody. Thank you all so much for coming today and listening to me talk about one of my absolute favorite topics because it is so incredibly important. And also because accessibility is incredibly important to me and I want for everyone to be able to get the most out of today's presentation. I will be reading two image descriptions for my slides today as well. So our first slide we have a large Austin Alliance group and pivot you logo in purple, black and orange. With the presentation titled The future is neuro divergent autistics working working and I am an autistic adult and I have been working for over 20 years and we will get more into that later. So welcome and thank you for joining today to learn about neuro diversity. I'm Crystal Homans, and I am the VP of Marketing and organizational change agents specializing in neuro diversity. So on the screen, I have a few of the services and cultural transformation tools that we offer at AIG. My specialty specifically is autism and neurodiversity. But in our work, we use a variety of tools including Wiley's everything disc, Patrick lencioni is the five Behaviors of a cohesive team PST select, and other assessments to help correct common workplace cultural problems. And there's also a photo of me on this slide and then the photo I have red hair but my current hair is turquoise, blue and purple. So thank you guys so much for hanging out today and a little bit about neuro diversity because I saw this in the chatbox neuro diversity is a specific like bio diversity. You know, we have diversity in nature. There are a diversity in different types of food and diversity in different species and diversity in the gene pool. These are all good things. And then business we know diversity is a good thing because diverse diverse organizations have more ideas coming in. And along with that we have diverse brain types and diverse thinking styles, which is neuro diversity. We have autistic people, people who have ADHD, people who are dyslexic, and a few other neurodevelopmental conditions that would qualify under this neuro diversity umbrella. And when doing neuro diversity in your workplace, your goal should be to make a workspace that is truly inclusive, so that all of these different brain types are able to thrive and do their best. So, on this slide, we have two cartoon faces, and they are facing away from each other one side of the screen is and face with it is black and white, you can see the brains through the cartoon faces. And the other side has a vibrant rainbow with a rainbow brain and a red face. And we have this little cartoon Doctor Who is kind of standing in the middle between both of these faces. So autism, like our brains in our heads is invisible, and it doesn't have a specific look. And often, as I have an autistic person meeting other people who don't know what to think about autism, I have found that it is not what people think it is. On this slide, I have the words what is autism along with a very medical definition that I am going to read to you. And to be honest, it's not my favorite definition, because it's very cold. And personally, I don't feel that it does my autistic experience justice because it is very bleak, and one sided. This medical model is generally focused on autistic people's deficits and shortcomings and tends to miss what is human and beautiful about the autistic experience. So to read from the slide, according to doctors, because this is not how I would describe myself. Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that impacts social interaction, communication, and the way the brain interprets and processes sensory information. And that's from the National autistic society. That you know, that's not a particularly

Unknown Speaker 7:33

great definition. You know, it's hard to see yourself in that definition as a human being, it's just very blunt doesn't tell you much. And because of that I am so grateful today, for your time and for you allowing me to redefine autism through my own human lens without all of this medical pathologizing language. Because despite my difficulties, I actually love being autistic. And I would never want to give that up. I, I am autistic. I don't think that makes me defective or broken. And I like my mind and that it allows me to view the world with unique and fresh perspective. I really hope that my story today will empower other people in organizations to consider what can be done to help support neurodivergent neurodivergent team members like me, because a supportive environment really can mean the difference between employee success or failure for any employee. So this slide, and it's very large image of a rainbow brain in a teal circle. And there's like this pinch as the rainbows world towards the middle. And this image actually means a lot to me, because my partner and I and David, who lives in the RV with me and the four dogs designed this together. So I'm really happy to throw this up on the slide and share it with you today. I also got a few bullet points and the overview. I will go with you go along with you today to talk about some of the struggles, behaviors, help you gain some perspective and then we'll go over some next steps. So there are increasing numbers of autistic people entering our workforce. And often these sensory communication and learning style differences that are common with autistic people are invisible. And because of that many employers are not set up to support employees like me. And today, we're going to dive deeply into my experience with successful employment as an autistic person, something that is unfortunately a rarity. And we'll also talk about what you can do to help autistic people who are in your workplace. I do To say that it is quite possible there could be people on this workshop right now who may be autistic or neurodivergent. And they may not even know it. I actually didn't find out I was autistic until I was almost 30 years old. And we'll get into a little bit more about how I went so long not knowing this information later in the presentation. But statistically speaking, you know, if we look at autism alone, we are estimating right now that at least one in 59 kids is born autistic. And that is, you know, more than 3.5 million people in America alone that are estimated to be autistic, I suspect it might be higher, because as people who are diagnosed, these numbers have actually been rising in recent years. But that doesn't mean we have more autistic people, suddenly, what is happening is the diagnostic criteria is evolving and is changing. People who may have been missed in the past are now being diagnosed. So there are a lot of things mostly we have growing awareness, not more autistic people. And even though we have this growing awareness, we actually have a lot of work to do still. And that's why I'm so grateful you're here today to learn. There are some complexities with autism and disclosing and diagnosis. And unfortunately, if we are disclosing in the wrong environment, it could be potentially dangerous for someone or even career limiting. And if someone is a parent, and they're autistic, they might fear they could have trouble with custody issues. Or people might not know how to share this information with family members and loved ones. It's very personal.

Unknown Speaker 11:54

And, you know, today, you know, we're going to explain some of these hidden struggles, we're going to learn how to break down some of these stigmas that are associated with all of these just really misunderstood behaviors and habits of neurodivergent people. I'm also going to help you gain some understanding of what it's like to be an autistic employee with sensory processing and work and cognitive differences, so that you can have some new perspective on the autistic experience. Because ultimately, you should walk away today with an idea for what the next steps would be in creating an openly autistic neurodivergent atmosphere in your organization. And the goal should be for people with cognitive differences to feel supported, empowered, and encouraged and able to reach their full potential. And I will stick around for questions at the end of the presentation as well. So if you want to drop the questions, and now I will check them once we've got that a lot of time at the end, if you want to make sure you don't lose that thought. We'll check that chat box shortly. All right, this is a fun slide. So next, you know we have the word autism blocked off and some really cool red and blue block chunky font. And on the other side of that we have two people walking in the abstract green and blueish gray cartoon staircase that is defying the laws of gravity because as one man is walking upside down under the staircase, the other man is walking above him in the expected way going in the other direction. And the text on this slide reads autistic duality. Autism is a lifelong difference. And as I mentioned earlier, I didn't know I was autistic for the first 30 years of my life. But, you know, my presentation through the years, and the ways in which I cope and interact with the world are always changing. But I was that I was autistic before I knew I was autistic. I was autistic my whole life growing up, and I will always be autistic until the day that I die. So there's a lot going on behind the scenes that's invisible, but I'm going to be the same process underneath I'm always going to be autistic person. Also, if you haven't noticed already, I stand out and I am not just talking about my blue and turquoise and purple hair. And throughout my life I have realized especially since discovering I was autistic, that trying to blend in is the most miserable thing I can do. And I decided when I was just diagnosed, that I wasn't going to hide anymore and that was really empowering and wonderful but People also ask about the hard parts, you know, is autism a disability? It can be. And it was for me when I was making myself physically and mentally ill by not being true to my autistic nature, and trying to live a neurotypical lifestyle. And there's also at the same time, some really great things that I would never change. And you know, my life, and all of the moments in it, have been influenced by my artistic experience. And to demonstrate the complexity of this issue, I would like to take you back to some of these memories that I have. because it illustrates the duality, the best. One of the earliest memories I have is teaching myself to read when I was 18 months old. And the adults were surprised when I just started reading one day from the backseat of the car as we were moving down the highway on a family trip. Then, at age three, I already had advanced vocabulary. And although adults were often really impressed by this, I had a lot of curiosity, and was always questioning everything. And my favorite word was often the phrase, why. And this phrase would get me in trouble a lot, but especially in school.

Unknown Speaker 16:51

And the other thing was school, and with speaking and reading, and all of this so early in life, is that adults would always have very high expectations for me. And there were a lot of times in which I would struggle to live up to those expectations. I was actually a very poor student. And I got into trouble all of the time in school, just by being me. It was never intentional. And it has been assumed that naturally, this curious little girl who had taught herself to read while she was still in diapers, would excel in school. And when it didn't pan out, and I struggled, laziness or stubbornness, were often the first thing adults around me would blame or assume was the issue. And throughout school, there is this theme of just barely scraping by and barely passing classes, especially if the classes didn't catch my attention. Or if I had a particularly strict and uncompromising teacher, I needed a bit more flexibility from others to do things my own way. And senior year, my economics teacher, actually, let me know that she went ahead and bump me up to a passing grade, mostly because she didn't want to deal with me again for one more year. And, I mean, honestly, I took it in stride because the feeling was mutual.

Unknown Speaker 18:35

So this next slide, blending in, on one side of the screen, we have someone who is trying very hard to blend in, they're standing against a black and white striped wall, and they have painted stripes on themselves to help themselves blend in and it's not really working. On the other side of the screen, we see a set of cartoon hands holding a cartoon phone could even be the same person perhaps there's some text messages that say some very mean things. Jerk loser freak, and there's a poop emoji. These are not very nice words that make you just want to disappear and blend in the text on the slide reads, discovery and masking. I often mentioned that I am late diagnosed, because not knowing I was autistic for almost 30 years has had a huge impact on me. I was living a life I thought I was supposed to have instead of living the life I wanted to live and it was costing me and making me sick. Before I was diagnosed, I had finally landed what I thought was my dream job working in a hip and trendy office and was just beginning to settle into that role and the new schedule, and we moved offices to a new physical location. And then the old office before the move, I had sat in this nice quiet corner with natural lighting. And the new office unfortunately came with a new seating chart, new lighting and some new responsibilities. A few months after the office move, my health had started to decline and I was constantly sick, I was nauseous, my weight was dropping, I went from about 120 to 95 pounds and a few months, I was having almost daily migraines anytime I was physically present in the office along with some other neurological symptoms. And throughout this time, I kept going back and forth with my my doctor. And I was desperately trying to get to the bottom of this mystery illness, that was actually something that I hadn't experienced off and on throughout my life more than once in times of stress and change. Eventually, after many missteps and wrong treatments, I was diagnosed autistic. And I started the work necessary to get my health back on track at the age of 29. And I was missed for such a long time, because autism can seem or can be invisible. Because for some of us, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we learn to mask or hide our autistic straight traits or when we are struggling with when autistic person is masking, I want to make sure I say this. It's not something that we do to be deceptive. Those words, you know, freak, weirdo. They are things we have been called throughout our lives when we do something that someone else thinks is strange. And so you know, people say like, oh, what's wrong with you? Are you okay? And that becomes this cue that whatever we were doing was weird or unacceptable. And so we hide because we just want to be invisible, we just want to be left alone, we just want to blend in, we don't want to be on display. And that masking is exhausting. And if you are masking, every now and then, you know, most people will probably be okay. But for some autistic people they are masking day after day without rest. And that extra energy is draining and it's adding up. For me You may have noticed if we were face to face today, you would definitely notice in a room, I walk back and forth I pace and I am constantly in motion. When I'm physically sitting to give a presentation, most of the motion stays in my hands, there's some toe tapping under the table that is hidden, but I am never still. In fact, being still makes it very hard for me to be present and engaged unless I am on the verge of falling asleep and then I'm not present and engaged anyway.

Unknown Speaker 23:20

And a lot of autistic people have similar experiences where they need to be in motion or they need to be moving. Not all because very every single autistic person has a very different experience. But for me, this masking and not being myself is exhausting. And because so many autistic people, especially my age and older mask, because it's kind of been beaten into us unfortunately by society, we have an entire generation of adults who are about my age 30 aged myself and older, who are sometimes referred to as the missing generation of autistic people. And because of this, I feel extremely lucky and privileged to have even been diagnosed at all. The truth is we have a huge diagnostic disparity among autistic people of various minority groups in rural areas, in different parts of the country, or people who maybe are in poverty. So there's a lot of different factors that lead to the fact that there are a lot of autistic people who are missed and not diagnosed and they are just kind of swept under the rug long term. And then that's why we have people like me not finding out they are autistic until they are in their 30s or later. I actually know someone who was diagnosed recently in their 70s. So people are finding out late in life that they are autistic and a lot of them wish they would have known years ago. And as we move into adulthood, it becomes more likely that that autistic neuro type is going to be Miss. And the sad truth is that we still have quite a few medical professionals who are only focusing on children and even refusing to diagnose and work with adults, ignoring the fact that autistic and neurodivergent people grow up to become autistic. And there are divergent adults. And that is really unfortunate. On this slide, I have a simple photo of a bundle of colorful rubber bands just tossed casually in a pile, we are talking about stretch, and burnout is the title of the slide. And I don't know, or I didn't know, at the time when I was diagnosed, but that sickness that I had been experienced, that I told you I experienced in the past, was actually what my version of autistic burnout was for me. And this is different for every autistic person. And burnout is different for different for every individual. But I was desperately desperately trying to hold myself up to a very impossible neuro typical standard of living. And for me, you know, I was blending in I was doing it, I thought, but I was masking and I was making myself sick, and I was burning myself out. And it had a huge tax on my self esteem, it was very bad for me. And some autistic people have this talent for pushing themselves past where they should pass themselves, or where they pass where they should push themselves, excuse me. And I am actually one of those autistic people. And that's why it's really important for you, as a manager, or a leader, to check in with people in your workspace, especially now in this digital world where if you have a remote team, you have people working remotely, it's very easy to log on early and stay on late and work around the clock, and not have clear off time and downtime. You need to work to set those expectations and make sure people are pacing themselves, taking breaks and not working around the clock. This doesn't just go for autistic people. You know, the burnout with can happen to any of your employees and it tends to happen to the most dedicated people on your staff. I was with with burnout, it tends to be people who care people have to care and be passionate in order to burn out.

Unknown Speaker 27:51

Just one second.

Unknown Speaker 27:56

Thank you. So with autistic people, the burnout tends to be caused by stressors in their environment. And these stressors can be mental or, as an autistic person, they can be a physical stressor. And this is what's different from non autistic people. lighting, fluorescent lighting makes me physically ill and gives me literally symptoms. And some of these things, you know, like putting myself into a situation that is too stressful too frequently, or fluorescent lighting can burn me out more quickly. But other things like autistic masking that we were talking about earlier can be a slow and silent drain that can take a bit longer. A big part of burnout for everyone autistic or not, is stretch. And when we talk about stretch, he we talked about the things that we are doing that are outside of our comfort level or are difficult for us we are stretching in order to do something that is hard. And I'm pulling my arms and stretching rubber band motion right now. And you know, eventually after all of that continued stretching, we're going to have to rest or we're going to eventually break we're going to wear ourselves out like a rubber band, it can only stretch so much. And that's going to be the stretch, more stretch for doing things that are outside of our natural aptitude with autistic people, many of us have been told over and over again that we are not trying hard enough. So we've learned to push too far over and over and over again past the breaking point, sometimes at the expense of our own health and mental and physical well being because we're desperate to keep up with the rest of the world. Another thing about autistic people is we tend to To have a spiky skills and abilities profile. And that means we may struggle with tasks that are easy for other people, while at the same time making tasks that are complex for some people look simple. For example, not for me, but for an autistic person balancing a very complex budget, and excel might be very easy for that person. But the same person may have some difficulty talking on the phone, or even placing a food order something you might take for granted. But you know, that it's psyche. And, you know, it doesn't mean that the autistic person can't do something that's difficult for them, it doesn't mean any of us can't do something that is difficult for us, it just means that when we're doing these difficult tasks, it's going to burn more of our mental energy. And so we can't do those difficult tasks over and over and over again, for an extended period of time without rest, or we're going to start to wear down. And managers have to take this into consideration. Because neurodivergent stretch is going to be different from neuro typical stretch. And so be cautious if you are a leader of people not to let your employees get trapped in this vicious cycle where they are stretching too far too often. And they are always burned out because they don't have time to bounce back and recover and do things that are recharging or to rest. That constant masking and that constant stretching can really lead an autistic person to poor mental health, and even like it did with me, physical sickness. And it is really sad that many autistic people I know and I've been in this place myself to say that they are just constantly teetering on the edge of burnout, with just trying to keep up with the basic day to day experiences of what is expected of them. They go home from work or school and they just crash because they have no energy left to give to anyone they care about or to engage in any of the activities that bring them joy. They're just surviving, they are not thriving. And that's not a way to live.

Unknown Speaker 32:31

I've hit this burnout phase more than once in my life, but hitting it in adulthood, because I've hit it, probably in middle school, maybe even elementary school. But hitting it in adulthood has been very eye opening, partially because it did lead me to being diagnosed autistic. So I'm grateful for that. But also because it forced me to realize the value and the necessity for self care. And it's it's made me look at myself with self compassion. For the first time in my life, I've finally decided that I have to make my physical and my mental health priority. And all of these changes that I have made would not have been possible in the wrong environment. And I've had to learn to have pride in myself, because I didn't have it when I was diagnosed, I was in a very low period of self esteem where I felt like a garbage human, for lack of a better word. And, you know, as part of that has also been learning to let people know when they're asking me to stretch too far too often. But I didn't always have this skill. And this is a skill I've had to develop over time.

Unknown Speaker 33:56

As our next slide says processing differences, and on this image, we have a poor guy and he is crouched on the floor on his knees and pain covering his ears as a megaphone hovers in the air. And there are loud noises being shot from the megaphone, and this poor guy looks like he is suffering so badly. And so these sensory processing differences that are very common with autistic people and other neuro divergent brain types can make these trouble picking up on social cues and other things in the office. More difficult, especially if you are in a loud or a busy environment. And I struggle with auditory processing issues. And for me, this can cause me to miss hear words, or maybe all of the sounds around me might be at the same volume and it's hard to distinguish and pick things out. Or I could fail to hear things completely. So for example, When I get really tired, if I'm worn down or stressed, it really can be impossible to follow a conversation. And although I have become a master of hiding my confusion, if anyone remembers the teacher from Charlie Brown, how nobody could understand them want bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah. Yeah, that's kind of a fairly good example of what auditory processing can be like. For me on a particularly terrible day. It's like my brain is refusing to make words out of the words that are coming out of other people's mouths. And sometimes there's just nothing I can do about it except go to sleep and hope it's better when I wake up. With an autistic person, any of our senses can be hypo or hyper sensitive. That means overly or underly sensitive when compared to non autistic people and the rest of the population. And so for some of us, that means we are avoiding certain sensations or seeking them out constantly, then that depends heavily on the individual. And what sense you're seeking or avoiding depends heavily on the individual. If you think of it as a DJ controller booth, where there's a slider for sight, smell, taste, touch, sound all of these, and you could slide them upward. For more intense sounds and more intense sensations, for example, my slider, and my sensitivity to light is way up, I am so sensitive to light. But my partner David is very sensitive to the he's not sensitive to light, and he craves light, and it bothers him when it's dark in the house. So we are a very interesting pair together. I crave foods with a lot of flavor, whereas another autistic person may only be able to handle very bland foods, this is very different. For each individual, no autistic person is the same in this way. And so there are other ways in which the sensory world impacts me. But because I am so sensitive to my environment, my senses are always top of mind. And unfortunately, I'm generally only physically comfortable when I have complete control over my situation. And that makes me come off as a bit of a control freak. Sometimes. Either that or I can just be uncomfortable. Part of my sensory experience also is driving being difficult for me. And this is one of those skills that non autistic people often take for granted, that is really a stretch activity for a lot of autistic people. If they drive at all. I drive but it requires me a lot of focus, and it wears me out. And that's another reason i say you know, if an employer can allow employees to work remotely, it can be helpful to your employees, especially if they don't drive or find it driving difficult like I do. But it can also be a benefit to the organization by widening the talent pool because now you can hire globally, you can hire people who may have you have a disability or people who can't drive. So there's just a lot of benefits to opening that up. The other thing for me that's been really great as autistic person and allowing myself to pace myself and have more control over my sensory environment. Working remote helps with all that as well. And sometimes I realized working remote may not be possible, depending on the role. So in that instance, there are some things that can be done to modify an office environment to make your space sensory friendly.

Unknown Speaker 38:58

Number one thing, I'm going to go to the one that hurts me the most and the one that I personally have the most trouble with is lighting. And with this employers can ask everyone on the team do you work and then or do you prefer to work where there is more bright light? Or would you prefer to work in the darker space, and then you see how many people prefer each option. If there are only a few people who work in the dark space, you can let them remove lighting above their desk, you can turn off lights in that part of the office, you could divide up your room and have one half of the people sitting the bright side of the room and you could have another half of the people sitting in the dark side of the room. You can cover lights. There are a lot of things you can do to change lighting in an office. You can even let people turn off the lights in their office and bring their own lamps from home or provide lamps for people and coverings which is really great. The other thing that I think is One of the number one issues that I find when looking at modern workspaces is especially you know, people are going back to the office, we have these open office plans is sound. I'm very sound sensitive. And when I'm trying to focus I'm trying to work, I can't focus with a lot of background noise. And you can, it's best case scenario, if you can create this is the quiet work area where your employees can go work, if they need a quiet space to work. You can do that, but that's not always possible. But I just want to just put a seed in your head here about that. Yes, your introverted neurodivergent non autistic people with ADHD may like or require a quiet place to focus, do your work do their work, some people may require a quiet focus area to work all of the time. Some people, even your most extroverted team members who love working in the open environment office pit area, may situationally need to go work somewhere quiet. Maybe they're up against a deadline, or they're working on something that's difficult for them, and they need to focus. Sometimes, that quiet workspace might benefit everyone in your office, as with a lot of things that can benefit your neurodivergent employees. That's why it's beneficial to offer these things to people whether they have a diagnosis or not. Also, because people could be like me and have no idea they're autistic, and not have an explanation for why these sensory things bother them. After I found out I was autistic, I knew that my next job would be one that allowed for more flexibility, and the ability to work remotely. That way, I'm able to set my own pace and work when, where and how I am at my best because doing a good job and good quality work. And working hard is actually very important to me, I am a bit of a perfectionist if I'm honest. And that's not necessarily always a good thing I'll admit. So on this slide, talking about focus, memory, and mindset, I have another brain. And this one is divided in half with paint splashed in a rainbow on one side of the brain. And the other side of the brain is black and white with mathematical calculations. autistic people, we are often specialists. And that actually makes sense. If you were to read the diagnostic criteria, a piece of it, I've read to you says highly restricted, fixated interests that are in abnormal in intensity or focus. Abnormal high, you say I'll show you at normal.

Unknown Speaker 43:14

You know,

Unknown Speaker 43:16

I'm very focused on what I'm focused on. You know, they say it's a bad thing. But it's also one of my biggest skills. I tend to be intrinsically motivated versus being externally or socially motivated. I love solitude. And for me, being left alone with information on a topic or task of interest is really magical. And another thing is a lot of my sensory issues fade away when I am alone, and other people never seem to have the same sensory issues or profile that I do even other autistic people. And this focus, you know what I've alone in my perfect sensory bubble and can access it is one of my biggest skills. But, and maybe this is why it's laid out in the diagnostic manuals as a deficit. It can also cause me to neglect my relationships and can be a bit isolating and might actually be a weakness. autistic people, myself included, may struggle with executive functioning. And for me that has a big impact on my working memory. It can impact cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control. Because of my own difficulties in this area, I am completely dependent on my visual schedule reminders and notepads. I truly can't remember even a small string of verbal instructions. And many of us who struggle with these additional difficulties prefer written community Over spoken communication, these processing and cognitive differences aren't even unique to autistic people. And that's why you may want to consider providing instructions for your team members and for your employees in writing. Or, you know, if you must, must give verbal instructions, be sure to allow time for note taking, or if you're giving verbal instructions, because some people need verbal instructions, allow time for note taking the point is being willing to communicate in different ways because all of the different people in your workspace may have different communication needs. That my visual task list and my schedule and all of that, it really is my best friend like for me, all of that out of sight, out of mind. Without those calendars and those reminders, I wouldn't be able to get work, or basic things in life done. And that's the reality of it that people don't realize, when you see me up here, giving a presentation is the amount of organization and things and practice that goes into getting here. So if I can be successful. So on this slide, we have a colored pencil that is drawing a keyhole on a brick wall. And the keyhole is glowing white. The text reads, the value of allies and mentors. These tools that I've been talking about the calendars and the scheduling, and the note taking, these are things I have picked up naturally. And your neurodivergent employees who haven't adapted these external coping mechanisms yet might benefit from some additional coaching in the areas of calendaring task meant task and time management. mentors have been what has helped me with this. And, you know, mentors and managers really can be the key to an autistic person success in an organization in school. I've been so extremely fortunate over the years and finding mentors, people who aren't going to count me out. And

Unknown Speaker 47:33

I'm getting her. And I think that's one of the things that has made me very successful. But it's would be great if mentors would reach out to me, you know, so if you are willing to mentor reach out to the autistic person, because reaching out is sometimes very difficult as well. I'm sorry, Chris, it's really important to meet people where they are so that everyone can come to work, and feel supported and able to be their best and do their best. We really need allies and people. Yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 48:06

You just kind of very briefly, would you mind just going over your own experience with mentors, just again, I think if the audio just kind of very briefly for people.

Unknown Speaker 48:18

Yeah, thanks for jumping in. Can you hear me now? Okay, perfect. So, you know, I've been very fortunate over the years and finding mentors, people who were not just gonna count me out and dismiss me, I look for people in the workplace who are willing to share their skills. And that's something I do is I actively will seek mentors out. But reaching out is hard. And it's not always easy. And so if you're a mentor, if you like to teach if you like to share with others, I'm begging you to reach out to people in your workplace that look like they could use help or you know, if they look like they're struggling or you know, you know, anyone who's new, just a new person in your organization, reach out and be a mentor. A lot of this is about meeting people where they are so that people can show up and be supported at work because people just want to be accepted and want to do their best. We really need allies and people who are willing to dig a little deeper and invest their time. And that's often the difference between barely surviving and supported and thriving. And on this slide, we have a little sprouted plant and it is early breaking through some dry cracked dirt and making me thirsty just looking at it. This graphic, on the other side, we have three people and the people are stuck in a hole, but they're standing on top of each other in a pyramid. And they're holding a plank of wood and making a bridge so that their three teammates were on top of the Round still, okay and cross and get to the finish line labeled success without falling into the hole, excuse me, really thirsty.

Unknown Speaker 50:15

Okay, and so the text on this slide reads, barely thriving, or barely surviving to support it and thriving. Excuse me, we do have a problem with the way Autism is diagnosed. And unfortunately, most people don't know what an autistic person in good mental health looks like. Largely because all of these medical books define autism, based on an autistic person who is struggling or in distress. And so that leaves autistic people who are not struggling or in good mental health, undiagnosed, until they maybe lose one of their supports, or they encounter new demands in life like I did when we had an office move. Now, because I know I'm very sensitive to my environment, I'm painfully aware that my success or failure depends heavily upon external factors that may be beyond my control. And currently, I'm well supported, and I'm operating as my best self. Removal of autistic persons supports could result in breakdown employee failure and turnover. If you were to send me back to a environment, that is what I says sensory hostile, every day where I was working under fluorescent lighting, I would start to fall apart very quickly. Currently, I am an example of a well supported and empowered autistic person, I have a good understanding of what autism means to me. And I managed myself Well, I've completely changed my lifestyle. And that is to accommodate this new information. And there are also accommodations in place at work that allow me to show up and be the best version of myself. And because of that, I've literally gone from barely surviving to thriving. And that's something I hope the diagnostic manuals will catch up to eventually. This is one of my favorite slides. It's so cute. We've got a stick figure and he is holding a hammer, enthusiastically and happily smashing the word impossible. And the text reads, empowering neurodivergent employees. I want to challenge managers and custodians of people within organizations and leaders to change the way you look at working with all of your employees, not just the autistic and neurodivergent employees. Because what's good for autistic people can and often is good for all. When I was first diagnosed autistic, I struggled with my employer to have my needs met, because the accommodations that I asked for were things that everyone would like, and it wouldn't be fair to give me preferential treatment. Looking back, I honestly don't believe that my employer had any ill intention. They were just simply unable to understand how someone could really need what I was requesting, because to them, it seemed like these things were wants over needs. But you know, at that time, however, I felt as if my needs were unimportant to my employer, and my health was unimportant to my employer. And so I left a job that under any other circumstances, I could have easily done, you know, almost in my sleep, it was so simple. But I became another statistic, a tenured employee dropping off. And I promised I'd give you something actionable today. I wanted to summarize five ways you know, write these down, get these notes, this is five things to take away that I'm gonna re highlight again, as you go move forward to make changes in your organization to help you make success possible and start to prevent this neurodivergent turnover would be one. believe someone when they tell you something is difficult for them. Even if you do not personally understand difficulty, too. Don't forget about sensory processing difficulties and sensory processing differences.

Unknown Speaker 55:12

Three, be clear with your expectations, timelines and deadlines for all of your employees. That includes not having surprised meetings whenever possible, try to avoid those. Thanks. Your autistic employees will thank you try and be willing to have different communication methods when motivating and supporting people. You need to find the right approach for the individual. There are so many different reasons beyond autism that people may have different communication needs and may communicate in different ways. So communication, because we all have different communication styles, whether or not we have a diagnosed disability is not one size fits all. So remember that when working with your team. And then lastly, good piece of advice. check in regularly. And be sure you're providing open and honest feedback. You need to encourage people to pace themselves take breaks and don't work around the clock, but also with the feedback. I know so many autistic people who say they have been let go from a workplace and they don't know why they were let go. They have no idea because nobody ever talked to them about the things they were doing wrong, it was just assume that they knew that there was a missed expectation. Some of us don't read between the lines. We need you to be upfront and honest with us. And I love and accept feedback whenever you have it. So that's really important to remember is to be upfront and be honest, and a lot of your employees will appreciate this as well. Like I said, a lot of these things are good for all of your employees, not just your autistic employees. And once again, we're gonna close with the same slide from the beginning of the presentation that includes a few of Agee's favorite business tools. And my picture, and the words thank you and exclamation points with my title VP of Marketing and organizational change agent. I am crystal Homans. And hopefully today's session has provided you with some ideas for the next steps and creating an openly neurodivergent atmosphere within your organization where people with cognitive differences, feel supported, empowered and encouraged to reach their full potential. Thank you so much for joining me on this journey today and letting me talk about one of my favorite topics. I have left some time for questions as well, too, I think well, I don't know, because we started a little bit late. How are we on time?

Unknown Speaker 57:58

Oh, we're still good. As long as you're so good. Krista.

Unknown Speaker 58:01

I you guys are my number one priority today. I didn't know did you want to read off questions? Or did you want me to scroll through the chat box?

Unknown Speaker 58:11

So I'll get into that now. Well, thank you. That was an amazing presentation. And now we're going to open up to audience questions. And our interactive q&a session is versus already mentioned. So how this works is if you have a question, you can just type it after cleaning King, the q&a button at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. I'll read it out loud. Or you can use the raise hand feature, which is also a button at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. And we'll call your name and you can turn on your mic. We can give you that permission. And then you can ask the question yourself. So we have both options depending on your own preference. So I think we already do have some Q and A's that have been asked so maybe we can start with those Krista and then people can kind of jump in. Perfect. Great. So I can read questions out loud, if you prefer. Yeah, that'd be wonderful. Awesome. So someone asked, hi, Krista. You mentioned the spectrum of autism. If you feel comfortable, would you explain some expressions or symptoms for lack of a better word that you personally experience? I relate with some symptoms of autism, but I still feel functional, if that makes sense. Wondering if there is a difference with HSP highly sensitive person. Thank you for the illuminating talk. very necessary and helpful.

Unknown Speaker 59:29

Yes, that's a great one. So I I think highly sensitive people are definitely neurodivergent at least, you know, if they don't necessarily have a diagnosis. I think one of the things that tends to be a key difference between people I know who identify as highly sensitive because I my community does get to bring me into a lot of connections with people who are introverted, highly sensitive people don't necessarily identify as autistic have a lot of similar experiences. I am with highly sensitive people, they don't, they have a lot of the same, like maybe sensory experiences, and they are more sensitive to certain environmental things. But as an autistic person, I have the sensory environmental things. But I also have communication differences and difficulties. And when I have to make a point to stay very, very rested, and like say, knowing I had this presentation today, I had to kind of pace myself all week and make sure I didn't burn myself out before I got here. Because when I get tired, I can lose the ability to speak almost completely sometimes or I sound like a drunk person slurring my words, I am really good at rambling on and talking over people. Unfortunately, I don't even realize I'm doing it. I struggle with timing and conversations and knowing if people are actually receptive or even interested in what I have to say, I don't read facial expressions very well. I can learn to read people I know over time, but there's just these social things that are a little bit more specific with autistic people. And those are also some things that a lot of my experiences I found are very similar to people who have ADHD, my best actually, a few of my best friends growing up have been ADHD years, they have ADHD. They have some of them have sensory processing and highly sensitive things as well. But they don't have the social issues that I do. And they pick up on social cues, and they can read faces. So like there's some different things. And it's funny, because sometimes there are things I will pick up on in a social group that other people won't. So it's weird, because the things I noticed, tend to be different than the things that other people noticed. And so you know, I spend a lot of time alone because I'm just kind of content being on my own. And I think sometimes people think that means I'm like, not social, or I don't like people. And that's kind of a misunderstanding to this that help. I hope that helps.

Unknown Speaker 1:02:08

Awesome. Thank you. So Alex asks, What have you been asking for so long that you don't know where the mask ends? And your true self begins? What do you do then?

Unknown Speaker 1:02:18

Oh, gosh, you know, it's a gradual unwinding process. And I've heard a lot of autistic people say that they have that experience where, you know, they don't even know where they're masking anymore. And they're going through and rediscovering who they are. And they start to realize, Oh, you know, I walk home, and I come into that my house and I instantly, like, change, I move differently, I act differently. A lot of the things that, you know, I was masking, I didn't even know I was masking. But then it was like I started to realize like these things I would hide about myself were things that were like autistic things, and I didn't want to have that shame. And so it was like, Okay, what are the things I only do when I'm alone? What are the things I do you know, what, I'm only really comfortable, because I've found that when I masking, a lot of times, you know, one that can be a sign that I'm around people that aren't accepting of me, and maybe aren't the best people for me to be around. I mean, there's always professional situations where maybe I wouldn't go sit in a client meeting with a stim toy, you know, because they're not gonna understand that without the introduction. But it's just really learning and getting comfortable with yourself all over again, thinking about how you were as a child reflecting on your life growing up, some of the things you may have done, and some of the different coping skills and mechanisms maybe you had growing up as a child, or as a young person won't be applicable to you as an adult unmasking. So you know, you wouldn't want to bring that back. Because maybe you know, your grown up and adult autistic behavior and movement looks very different than it does as a child. So it's really just getting to know yourself and exploring yourself and you know, all over with people that you feel comfortable with first, or maybe even just alone first.

Unknown Speaker 1:04:17

That's an awesome answer. Thank you. Rachel is asking, thank you so much for sharing all of this information. I'm currently remotely supervising someone who identifies as neurodiverse. Do you have any suggestions for questions? I shouldn't. I should not ask when we have our weekly check ins to ensure they are comfortable with the workload and peace.

Unknown Speaker 1:04:35

Yeah, so we have a lot of meetings. So I've my company, we are remote workforce. And we actually have weekly meetings as a team where the team all gets on the same page and has the same expectations and then the supervisors will also have a weekly one on one with anyone who reports to them. And generally things that you know, I would ask people on my team neurodivergent are not because I A lot of these things are pretty universal would be. One, we're assuming that going into this meeting, deadlines and expectations for any project this person's working on have already been set. And so they know what their goals are that they're working towards. And so if the everyone knows what goals we're working towards, you should be able to have check ins in this weekly meeting to talk about how are we tracking towards these goals? And my favorite question that I asked and that my leaders have asked me in the past is, you know, is there? How are we doing towards our goal this week? Do you feel like you're on track with your goal this week? And if not, are, what are the obstacles that you see in your, in your in front of you? Or are there any obstacles, I can help remove from you so that you can get this done. And so that way, you're letting them ask to be empowered. And then also always making sure you're in your organization, it's really important to have that culture where people can come forward and speak up, if they're struggling with something, if maybe, you know, say they have mental health issues, and they're feeling anxious about something, or maybe they've lost a loved one at home, and they're not at their best. People need to be able to speak up and come to their leaders and even in front of their entire team, if possible, and feel like it is a judgment free safe zone to say, Hey, I'm struggling with something, then there's no problem with that, because we're all struggling with different things. And these meetings with your people you're managing should be in order to help the people on your team be successful. So it's all about empowering that team member, what do they need? What obstacles Can you remove? How can you help them be successful? Awesome. I'm

Unknown Speaker 1:06:58

answering the chat is asking. Krista. Thank you, what were the accommodations you asked for that your employer thought were wants? If you are comfortable sharing?

Unknown Speaker 1:07:06

Yeah. So and a lot of this probably comes down to me being newly diagnosed and not knowing the best way to advocate for my needs. I want to make sure I say that, because I have a lot of love for this employer. And we're on good terms still. But, you know, I asked if I could sit in a quiet corner with natural lighting or sit by the window. And in this office, you know that it was a little bit of a hierarchical system where those seats were kind of reserved for people who were leaders in the company. And it was like, where they put the corner desks and they would have had to rearrange the entire office and you know, it would it would overlays? Like do you really need that? You know? You know, unfortunately, I did. And that's why I work from home now.

Unknown Speaker 1:07:54

You? Um, nobody is asking how can coworkers apart from leadership be more supportive?

Unknown Speaker 1:08:02

Yeah, I think the number one thing that would is great, and that I appreciate when I'm working with my peers in the workplace, is when people one, give me the benefit of the doubt when there's a miscommunication, or there's any kind of thing that could be maybe some kind of communication thing. Because with autistic people, a lot of us have different communication styles. I know a bit now, because I've been in workspaces for a long time, how to soften my language and come at things from a less direct and blunt way. But my natural communication style is very blunt and very direct. And if I'm tired, it'll probably come out. And it won't be as warm and fuzzy, really fuzzy and bubbly. Or I might not pick up on some of the things because I can focus and pick up on these social cues but it's very, like, you know, like I'm watching I'm studying like ants under a magnifying glass. So, you know, if I miss something or if someone misses something, or you think they might have misunderstood something or you think someone said something rude to you give that person the benefit of the doubt and just ask them I don't think this is how you meant to say this, this sounded like you You know, or just check in with that person. It's really important to realize I've had so many misunderstandings with people that there was a time in my life where I just didn't even want to deal with other people because I just felt like people were too complicated. Don't close people off and like say Oh, these are the weirdos you know, these aren't these are the unacceptable people in the company like include everyone and welcome them in. Because people sometimes get othered when they're a little bit different and I've been in that other dip box a lot too and that really hurts.

Unknown Speaker 1:09:55

Amazing. Thank you. yasmeen is asking how do you deal with people, especially family dismissing one's autistic diagnosis.

Unknown Speaker 1:10:06

Well, there are certain people in my family including one person who was interviewed by the person who diagnosed me and is because they watched me grow up and had the information. And part of the reason I got diagnosed, and I won't name this family member, but for example, you know what I try to talk to them, they say, oh, there's no such thing as late onset autism, you're not really autistic. It's like, No, that's not what this is. It's late diagnosis, but this family member is in their 80s. And they're not going to accept it right now. So they're probably autistic, too. I'm just gonna say this, I didn't name their name. But you know, to them, it's like, well, isn't everybody a little bit because they experienced so many of the same things to this person is actually, I said, most people don't have my sensory profile, this family member has my sensory profile. So they are so much like me that when I tell them about my experience, it sounds very normal to them. And they can't accept that there's anything different because they have to alter their own perception with a lot of people. And generally science is starting to understand and accept that autism is mostly thought of as a genetic thing. And so with families, sometimes people can't accept it, because so much of what they're saying you're saying is autism they see in themselves, or they're just closed off to new information, and they have cognitive dissonance. And there may be people in your family or in your life right now that aren't ready to hear the information or hear new information about you, because they see you one way into them. Even though you've always been the same person, you'll still always be the same person, this new information is just too much for them to handle right now. And they might come around eventually. And it may just be this is someone in your life. Unfortunately, you can't talk about this with using the terms autism, but you might be able to talk with them about, oh, I have this experience. Can you relate? You know, and it's kind of funny that we have to dance around it. But you know, that family member? I don't I don't talk about it with them. I don't even wear my autistic pride t shirts in front of them, because I just it's not worth it. Sometimes, unfortunately.

Unknown Speaker 1:12:15

Thank you for that. also asked as a follow up question, do you recommend declaring that you're in or divergent and being specific as to what it is you have to your employer and co workers.

Unknown Speaker 1:12:28

That is going to depend very heavily on the employer and a few other factors. But in my personal experience, it has been better for me because I need accommodations in order to be successful and be my best. And so having that disclosure allows me to ask for those workplaces. But those workplace needs. But it really can depend on the employer. Like some employers might just say, Oh, I don't want to deal with this. And it's discrimination. It's illegal. But they may, you know, pass you over if you disclose it too early in the interview process. Whereas my current employer, I'm so grateful for, well, they knew I was autistic, because we we sit on the we were sitting on a board for an autism charity together. And so that was good. I was already out before I started the interview process. But when it was like, I'm autistic, and I need these accommodations, it wasn't, well, we've never done it that way before. That's not how we do things here. It wasn't we don't know how it was, Okay, tell me how this works. And so they empowered me in order to let me be accommodated. And that was great to go through that from the very beginning and expectations were set. Whereas when I had a previous employer where I didn't disclose because I didn't know I was autistic, and then found out I was autistic and found out I needed accommodations and was trying to ask for them after the fact it actually didn't go very well because they were like, Well, you've never needed this before. And so it's kind of if there's not a one right or wrong answer. But for me, especially because I need accommodations. It's kind of a necessity.

Unknown Speaker 1:14:14

Amazing. Thank you, Acacia I'm so sorry if I pronounced any of these names wrong, by the way. I Kesha is asking how would you suggest initiating the conversation of how to champion looking at hiring practices to include neurodiverse people and have a very large corporate company, especially to the C level executives. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 1:14:35

That's really hard. It's hard sometimes. And that's like the biggest struggle. And I've found when I'm talking in organizations, the ones that are willing to make change tend to have someone that is on leadership, who is got a personal connection. They have to want to champion this you can't make someone want to do it because of oh this is the right thing to do is the good thing to do. They have To care, sometimes it's you know, someone in my family is autistic, sometimes, oh, maybe I'm actually autistic, we've got more leaders are starting to come out and be openly autistic. But you know, if when we talk about some of those people that will only do it for the bottom line, it's talking about how you know, we already know that diversity is a good thing. And organizations that have more diversity, are more successful and are more creative and are having more ideas and are more agile and are more you are more efficient and are better organizations. But a lot of these diversity initiatives don't take into account neuro diversity, which is literally different frame and thinking styles. And it is, you know, sometimes I've found that talking about this untapped talent pool is helpful. And then the other thing is talking about the cost of a bad hire, because you know, we've got enough of a percentage of the population that are autistic right now it is a large percent. And it's probably more than we know. And I think that number is going to keep growing as we gain more awareness and understanding of autism. But it's, it's still changing and growing. And so you know, that's that talent pool, and then not having the turnover, because each turnover employees so expensive, and you've got autistic or neurodivergent employees on your team, if you've got a team of 50 or 60 or more, there's autistic people in your team now, just because statistically, it's one in 59 in America. So you know, how many people are on your team already? And are you serving that population, because a lot of these things is little changes that can be made to your hiring process to your hiring initiative, to accommodating people in the workplace. benefit everyone, not just the autistic and neurodivergent employees, you know, we're not talking about creating a separate hiring funnel for autistic people, you should try to the goal should be to have your organizational ecosystem set up to where people don't need to request accommodation in order to get through your hiring process. Or in order to work in your workspace. It's just set up so that everyone can show up and be successful.

Unknown Speaker 1:17:20

Amazing. Thank you so much. Yeah, no, is asking, based on what you've learned on your journey so far? What would you share with a 12 year old if you were able to?

Unknown Speaker 1:17:31

Yeah, I would say, you know, to give out to my younger self and young people out there, you are capable of so much more than you realize you are capable of. A lot of times we have this little voice in our head that tells us we're not good enough, or we're can't do it. Or, you know, what if I fail, what if I fail? And there was one point in my life, and I think it's a pivotal moment when I realized, you know, sometimes things are scary. And instead of focusing on what if I fail, I needed to focus on what if I get it right? And block out a little bit of the scary and the failure. And I say, you know, sometimes you have to just jump just go for it, especially if it's something you really want. Don't let fear hold you back. Because for a lot of years in my life, because I still have anxiety, I was letting that stop me. And unfortunately, a lot of autistic people have anxiety, or they just don't know how awesome they really are. You know, I wish more people knew you guys are so awesome.

Unknown Speaker 1:18:43

Fantastic. We have four questions left. Do we have time to get through all of them?

Unknown Speaker 1:18:50

I can stick around. I'm happy to stick around.

Unknown Speaker 1:18:53

They're all just so wonderful. It's been hard to kind of choose I'm just kind of going through them. Right. I'm an anonymous attendee is asking I may have missed this. I was I joined late, but as an adult who suspects that they may be on the spectrum, how does one go about receiving a diagnosis and moving forward from there? Have no idea who to talk to or what help to seek in this journey?

Unknown Speaker 1:19:16

Yeah, so when I was diagnosed, it started with visits to my GP because I was burnt out and I was having some neurological and other physical sickness symptoms. And eventually, they were referring me to have someone to talk to about my mental health and anxiety. And it started to give me in the right sphere there. And so I had actually stumbled across a book by autistic author with reading some other psychology stuff. And the perspective was so similar to my own it was just like, Wow, that's really weird. Like, doesn't everybody think like that? I just thought that was normal. And then I realized this is a very artistic way of thinking and it was a total shock. So I asked at that point when I got the referral to see someone for Mental Health if I could see someone who specifically knew about autism, and someone who diagnosed adult because I didn't mention the presentation, we have a lot of professionals who still only work with a diagnosed children. And so my doctor gave me the card for our local autism society's chapter. And so they had a list of local providers that they gave me and I asked typically, for them to help me narrow down that list to find someone who has the experience with late diagnosis and adults. And because my GP thought that anxiety was one of my main issues, I also found someone who specialized in anxiety as well. And so going through that process, I I have a lot of notes, every time I do anything, there's a lot of notes for the presentation. There's a lot of notes when I do these things in public, there's a lot of notes in my calendar, every time I need to do a task, I have a note. And so when I went into my appointment, I took you know, five pages of type notes of just things I remembered, that supported me potentially being autistic about my life, because they need to verify that you've always been like this Your whole life because it is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition. You were born this way we die this way. And so they are looking through the history, I was very lucky that I had my grandpa loved cameras, baby videos. And so I brought my baby footage so they could see baby autistic, Krista being autistic growing up. And so there's no doubt there. And then, you know, the interview with a psychologist where I talked to them for a few hours, and then I went home. And they called people from my childhood and interviewed them. Just asking lots of details digging through my life for the fine tooth comb. And then, you know, week later, I went back or a couple weeks later, I went back and she had reviewed everything and just went through all the information and I got the diagnosis and found out Yes, I'm autistic. You know, I've always been this way. And, you know, she framed it in a way that you know, there is nothing wrong with you. And I'm so grateful that the recommendation was books and resources that were written by autistic people for autistic people that I didn't get sucked down the pathology gloom and doom route of Google. Because when you're first diagnosed, there is this split, you can go to the dark side, or you can go into the light, you know, you can go into I hate myself because I'm autistic, and this is ruin my life or Okay, I want to stick. No, what does that mean? Let's approach this with curiosity, and accept this fact, instead of spending all my time being mad about the fact that I want to be sick. And I'm going to admit, you know, when I was first diagnosed, I went through a full range of emotions, and probably all of the stages of grief, from anger, to all of it mourning and just feeling like I had missed out on knowing something very important about myself for a lot of years. But going through the process, and really accepting the information was really essential to me getting my life back on track. Awesome, and the essence just wondering what the book was called. Oh gosh, the one that my psychologist recommend, I believe it was women or woman from another planet had to be women from another planet. And it was a collection of autistic women's stories from different walks of life. And it was just a bunch of different stories from other autistic people. And it's like, oh my gosh, I've come home. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 1:23:51

Here is asking. Hi, Krista. First off, I love the new headset much easier to understand you money. How would you suggest that a person approach a change in management when the original management was very open and accommodating to autistic needs but the new management isn't, especially if there isn't an official diagnosis on record, ie the employees in the process of attempting to be diagnosed.

Unknown Speaker 1:24:16

That's gonna be really hard, especially if your manager is not supportive. hate that I've left organizations before I was diagnosed before I knew I was autistic. But looking hindsight, definitely autism related left employers because they've had management changes actually one of my favorite jobs that I was at for five years before the job I told the story about is one that I left because they had a leadership change and the new person in leadership because there wasn't anyone above them you could go to to get help or anything. This is like the buck stops here person was just someone that wasn't willing to be the right kind of leader that I needed to stay in that organization. And it depends on how high up in the chain this person is, you know, is there someone above them that maybe can help. Without that diagnosis, it's gonna be really hard. With a good leader, you know, you wouldn't even need the diagnosis, you would just be like, Hey, I had this need, I'm having this difficulty I need, I need help depending on what the request might be. Whereas some leaders, they're just like, they don't want to help anybody. And, you know, if they're determined to not help you or accommodate you, or empower you to be successful in your workplace, without a piece of paper to say you need help, because they don't believe you that you need help, or that something's difficult for you shows some other potential problems within a workspace, maybe as well with leadership. And I don't know if you can fix that leadership problem. And that makes my heart heavy for you a little bit, you know, unless there's another leader you can go to. But that diagnosis, and that paper might help once you get it. And that's why I say, you know, we shouldn't be saying, Oh, you need this paper, because it's hard to get the diagnosis. And if you don't have health insurance, it's very expensive to the diagnosis, or depending on what part of the world you live in, it might be impossible for people to get that diagnosis.

Unknown Speaker 1:26:23

Thank you. Lisa is asking, thank you. Thank you for this, you have helped me and all of us tremendously, tremendously. To inspire hope toward my professional future. My question connects to behavior on the professional level, how should I respond on a professional in a professional way when employers, mentors, teachers, peers, and so forth, expressed to me that I am, quote, unquote, normal, quote, unquote, too much, I'm often told that I am too optimistic and talkative, to extra and not able to fit in. My goal is to be a supportive team member who can help cultivate a productive and kind environment, how can I earn respect from folks and not get fired, so I can contribute in the best way I can, as a team. Thank you so much. And this is a fragile topic to me personally,

Unknown Speaker 1:27:10

oh, my heart hurts because I relate so much on so many levels. Oh, and, you know, when I first entered the workplace, too, it was a lot more difficult for me to maybe know when sometimes you do, you need to hold your tongue. And, you know, learning when something is necessary to add or when it's not, or when the appropriate time to talk and, you know, be extra extra, as people say is okay, but you know, I'm a million mile an hour person. And sometimes, you know, my professional hat at work, when I especially when I didn't work remotely, involves me holding back who I was so much, because, you know, I get that, oh, you're just too much, or you never shut up where you don't stop, excuse my language. But you know, it's like, people don't get it. And some of those people, you know, aren't necessarily my people in the workplace. And I hate that, because there have been organizations where, you know, they let someone go, and it's like, they weren't a culture fit. And, you know, it's not the person's fault. It's the organization's fault that they aren't willing to bend a little bit and be open to someone who is a little bit differently. You know, I don't want you to hold that who you are, there may be, you know, the organization you're in, maybe there's someone else in your organization you can hang out with or someone who will appreciate you for who you are. There's a Rene brown quotes and love and I'll misquote it. So, uh, you know, I can't get I don't have it in front of me. But it talks about how you know, blending in is basically just soul crushing and trying to, destroys you versus, you know, being accepted and being yourself. It's hard, you know, I don't have a simple answer, but, you know, be yourself. You're, you're amazing. And, you know, it's okay, if you're too much for some people. Those people are probably not your people. But maybe you know, sometimes at work, you know, I there are times when you might have to just kind of be quiet and listen a little bit more. And over the years learning to kind of be quiet and listen, has helped me a little bit with that. But yeah, find it. Find your people who love you. And don't think you're too much. Okay.

Unknown Speaker 1:29:49

Simon is asking what are your quick top three self care tips?

Unknown Speaker 1:29:54

Yes, ah, for me. Someone is really dependent on that visual schedule. I have started to block off and even schedule, break time. and everything like that like I had today, because I knew I was going to do this presentation and I wanted to be fresh for every one of you here and I wanted to come and be my best self, I've made sure to block off at least a few 15 minute chunks of the day to like stop and rest and breathe and recenter myself, on the weekends, I have a rule where because I spend nine to 12 hours a day Monday through Friday on my laptop, at the end of the workday, the laptop closes and is put away and it doesn't come back up for the entire weekend. It's really dedicating that downtime. And as autistic person, my brain, you know, I'm all over the place, I'm a million miles now or I'm too much for some people. It's never stopped, it always goes goes goes. So making sure I take a point to do activities to help me slow down and combat that a little bit. You know, everyone likes something different. But you know that maybe that's going for a walk in nature or going swimming or going for a run doing something physical or some physical exercise or some yoga. You know, it is. You know, it's just really taking that time to do things that recharge my brain and make me feel good. And make me better.

Unknown Speaker 1:31:38

You have new

Unknown Speaker 1:31:41

Oh, whoops, sorry. wondering, finally, as our last question, do you drive and if so what was like getting your license and training?

Unknown Speaker 1:31:51

I drive and I'm not gonna say I drive Well, I drive. Okay. In the small country roads and places I am familiar locally. But I struggled greatly driving in traffic, congested busy areas, and especially in the nearest large cities. Getting my license was really interesting. When I was getting my license, it's been a lot of years, they were allowed to actually waive the driving portion of the test if you got a high enough score on the written portion of the test. And I am an excellent test taker because you know, elimination and all that, Oh, I got a near perfect score or a perfect score a really good score on that test did I didn't have to take the physical driving test and drive with an instructor, which probably ensured I got my license, I'm not sure at that point, I would have successfully been able to get my license if the rules have been different. When I was getting my license. I've learned to drive through many years of practice, I have had quite a few car accidents. Fortunately, not one in a very long time. I think I've got it now. But I also now have much more respectful of my limits. And then knowing, you know, like maybe today I'm too overwhelmed. I can't handle driving right now or something. And knowing I can't drive in this location, or I can't drive here, I can't drive after dark. So I know my needs now and knowing I'm autistic, I'm a lot more willing to speak up for them.

Unknown Speaker 1:33:31

Thank you for that. And yeah, all of you. Other attendees probably amazing questions. I hope you all learned a lot and enjoyed this events. I've just pasted a feedback form in the chats, which would really like I'd really appreciate you filling it out. So we can make events like this better. This is always a little awkward to us. But as we are a nonprofit organization, we do really appreciate donations as well. All proceeds from this event will support us in bettering employment outcomes for neurodivergent youth. So directly being funneled into our programming. We are a volunteer led organization, so none of us do get paid. So all contributions go directly to supporting our youth. If you would like to kindly make a contribution, you can do an APR website, and I'll send that link in the chat as well. And if you want to stay in the loop, please follow us on social media at Bible careers or subscribe to our newsletter, which can also be found on our website. Thank you so much. As always, if you have any questions, you can feel free to email me as well. If Chris is comfortable, I'll connect with her and maybe if you have questions, she'd be comfortable sharing her email with you as well. And yes,

Unknown Speaker 1:34:39

yes. So if you want to make it easier, you can email me it's info inf o at go to a G calm that's

Unknown Speaker 1:34:56

Thanks so much everyone. Have a great day, everyone. Thanks for sticking around. My pleasure.

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