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"I’m proud of who I am, the fact that I think differently", Leonora McNabb

It is believed up to 15% of the population could be described as being neurodivergent. But what does this term mean?

Each person has a brain that is unique to them; no two brains are quite the same.

Neurodiversity acknowledges that some people’s brains simply work in a different way and these differences can lead to someone being diagnosed with a neurological condition, also known as neurodivergence. People of all ages are diagnosed every year with neurological conditions including but not limited to autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, there are many who live undiagnosed.

The NeuroNetwork’s aim is to facilitate a better understanding of neurodiversity in the workplace by raising awareness and supporting those who are neurodivergent (whether diagnosed, self-diagnosed or undiagnosed). As a network, we have many different experiences of neurodiversity, including but not limited to our own personal experiences of being diagnosed with a neurodivergence, supporting a family member, or loved one who is neurodivergent, working with someone who is neurodivergent or from research we have done into this field and interest in being an ally.

I’m dyslexic, something I have lived with since I was diagnosed aged 10. I feel lucky to have had the diagnosis at a young age, but this didn’t mean it was always easy. Like all parents, mine worried about me a great deal, however, once I was diagnosed, it felt like this worry increased to a whole new level.

As a child, I felt constantly reminded that I had dyslexia and that I was in some way different from my peers. I was lucky to be given a lot of support at school which I’m forever grateful for, but when I reflect back now as an adult, I note how I was encouraged to hide my condition. This at times has led me to set unrealistic high standards for myself and has had an influence on my mental health.

Thankfully, a lot has changed since then, but it was only when joining Bird & Bird that I felt comfortable being open about being dyslexic. I joined Bird & Bird as the NeuroNetwork was being launched and immediately felt it was something I wanted to be part of. Before now, I had never even disclosed my dyslexia to my employer but seeing how the firm is embracing neurodiversity led me to want to share this part of myself. Everyone has been so supportive, and the network has given me the confidence to share how I experience dyslexia, knowing that others may share similar challenges.

Today, I’m proud of who I am, the fact that I think differently and that I bring different perspectives when I show up at work. The NeuroNetwork welcomes anyone who would like to join the network as a member, including those who are neurodivergent, whether diagnosed, self-diagnosed or undiagnosed with a neurodiverse profile and people who want to learn more about how to support neurodivergent colleagues, family members and friends.

Leonora McNabb, United Kingdom, Learning & Development Officer