What the needs of autistic people tell us about how to improve workplace communication for everyone

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Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System on Unsplash

There’s a lot of information available for employers who are motivated to recruit and retain neurodiverse employees. That’s a good thing.

Around one in 100 Australians is autistic and this is in line with figures in many other countries. Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects the way people process and interact with their environment.

In Australia where I live, the unemployment rate for autistic people is 31.6%, almost six times the rate of people without a disability. For those who are employed, many are working less hours or in less challenging jobs than they would like. …

It’s not always the red flags you should be looking for

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Photo by Sean Quillen on Unsplash

Have you ever had what you thought was a promising relationship end prematurely only to realise afterwards how many things were just not quite right? I’m not talking about the things that would be considered objectively ‘wrong’, like disrespect, dishonesty and selfishness, but the things that are subjectively ‘wrong for you’.

My dating experiences by and large haven’t been in the heterosexual world so a lot of the dating advice predicated on gendered patterns doesn’t apply. Unlike straight women, I don’t need to look out for the constellation of behaviours that arise from male entitlement.

There’s a freedom that comes…

When you excel at some things and struggle with others

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Photo by Maksym Ivashchenko on Unsplash

My life is a study in contrasts. I can hold my own in a meeting with senior managers discussing strategic policy but struggle to make a phone call to change a medical appointment. After a morning structuring my thoughts into a written submission, I head out to buy lunch and put a dint in the car as I back into a railing. …

Dealing with the cognitive load when you already have sensory processing difficulties

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Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

We’ve all heard of Zoom Fatigue: I hear it’s one of Google’s most searched terms of 2020. But what does it actually mean?

For some, it gives expression to a general feeling of being over it. They’re sick of the restrictions the pandemic has imposed on their lives and worn down by the anxiety wrought by relentless uncertainty.

But Zoom fatigue also has a more specific meaning grounded in neuroscience. We feel exhausted because interacting with people through a screen demands a higher level of sensory processing than communicating face-to-face.

Difficulty with sensory processing is central to the experience of…

Why I feel so at home in mine

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

I can easily spend hours at a time in my kitchen. It’s where I gravitate to in my down-time; where I decompress, gather and ground myself. It’s where I can truly be me. When you’re a late-diagnosed autistic adult, this means having the space to give full expression to your unmasked autistic self. It’s recently occurred to me just how autistic I am in my kitchen.

It helps that I’m really into food and love to cook

Autistic people have a complex relationship with food due to the way our brains process sensory input. For some, this plays out in…

Autistic or ADHD partner? The patterns in your relationship might tell you something about your neurotype.

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Photo by Greg Raines on Unsplash

“I’m a bit ADHD,” she said, maybe twice, maybe three times. I didn’t put any more weight on it than if someone had said “I’m a bit OCD,” the way folks do. It wasn’t until she said, “No, I actually have ADHD” that it sank in.

I knew a bit about ADHD in children but it wasn’t on my radar for adults, much less one I was entering into a relationship with.

The relationship was at the wondrous getting to-know-you stage where I was hungry to learn about and embrace everything about her. It was all part of the rich…

The perspective of a daughter who chose to prioritise her mental health

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Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

I can’t help feeling wary when I hear a mother talking about their estranged child. I can’t help wondering what’s not being said: the child’s experience that is being erased; the role of the parent that is being overlooked.

I’m talking about adult children, and it’s the mother-daughter relationship that has particular resonance for me.

I know that there are women who have lost contact with their adult children who are not like my mother. Sometimes loving relationships fall apart under the strain of complex family dynamics. There are women who have turned themselves inside out trying to work out…

You don’t get to be a legend if you can’t respect human dignity

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Image by Jimmie48 Photography/Women’s Tennis Association

Margaret Court is a 78 year old Australian woman who played tennis for Australia between 1960 and 1977. She achieved a measure of success, having won a total of 64 major tennis titles. To put it in context, Serena Williams is the only one who has come close to nudging the record.

These days Margaret Court is much better known for public airings of anti- LGBTQ statements. We hear about her whenever a tennis event turns the spotlight on her character; on whether she should still be considered a “legend”. …

Another discovery that came from being diagnosed autistic

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Image: ActuallyDyspraxic on Tumblr

When I was a little girl of about three in the early 1970s, my mother took me to my first dancing class. Embarrassed by my total lack of co-ordination, she marched me out, never to return. I can’t remember what she said but my memory of how it felt is embedded on a cellular level. I have always been clumsy and I have always known it.

I excelled at some things at school but sport was not one of them. I’m still tormented by memories of missing the ball as I grasped for the air around it, twenty five sets…

It could just be the boring reality of human interaction

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Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

To recap, ghosting is when someone suddenly and without apparent justification ceases all contact with you. It’s fairly broadly accepted that it can apply to friendships and romantic relationships and they don’t have to be long term. The key is that you’ve had some expectation of ongoing contact that has been thwarted.

Along with other gems of modern dating parlance (hello breadcrumbing), ghosting provides recognition and validation. But sometimes using a concept like ghosting to make sense of a relationship that didn’t work out can be a blunt instrument. It obscures the detail. Sometimes the reality is just ordinary and…

Justine L

A keen observer of life, here to put in my two cents worth. I write about neurodiversity, relationships and LGBTQ issues. justinetangerine999@gmail.com

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