Neurodiversity Celebration Week 2023

Diversity is the spice of life! Neurodiversity Celebration Week 

Last week was Neurodiversity Celebration Week, a celebration of the continuing rise in global awareness of neurodiversity. 

Neurodiversity, which might feel to many like a bit of buzz term right now, is defined as the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioural traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population. The term is especially used in the context of autistic spectrum disorders.  

The rise in awareness is down to online conversations driven largely by social media, empowering more people to share their own experiences with neurodiverse conditions such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD and OCD. In 2021, there were 30,000 mentions of the word neurodiversity online, 9,000 of which were on Twitter. In 2022, there were 383,000 online mentions – an increase of more than 1,000%. 286,000 of these were on Twitter! 

TikTok videos featuring #ADHD have been viewed over 22 billion times – yes, billion! – while #ADHDsymptoms videos have had nearly 200 million views. This highlights the evolution of TikTok from a platform for silly fun, to a place for learning and educating users, and provides yet more proof that if your brand has a purpose and can teach people something, then you need to seriously consider being on TikTok.  

As with any rise in online conversations, we all must tread carefully. Social media offers a brilliant platform for raising awareness, encouraging conversations and learning more about neurodiversity. However, self-diagnosis of neurodiverse conditions is rife, and while Elaine from school may have always been the smart one, unless she’s got a relevant medical qualification, she’s likely not qualified to diagnose her own, or your, ADHD!   

Like many important things in life, being part of the conversation is more than just lip service. So what can brands do to be part of the conversation authentically? A good starting point would be to invest in training for your staff, especially recruiters and people managers. As part of our training academy at PHA, we’ve started a series of training sessions for hiring and line managers so that they can ensure fair recruitment processes for neurodivergent candidates, create safe working environments for neurodivergent employees, and empower team members to speak openly about their challenges.  

In terms of your social media content, if you can speak to the topic authentically, then sharing content around neurodiversity, for example what you’re doing to help neurodivergent employees, allows you to be part of the online conversation. Perhaps there are staff members who are autistic or have ADHD. Profiling these in a positive light, including detailing any adjustments that are necessary for day-to-day working, helps to highlight your business as somewhere that is inclusive and has important processes in place for its staff. 

Furthermore, if you’re sharing educational content around neurodiversity then it’s likely to be prioritised by the dreaded algorithms and thus help to drive engagement, audience growth and good feeling towards your brand. 

One digital growth area we’re monitoring is online spaces designed specifically with neurodiversity in mind. There are now search engines that offer a user experience with less distractions, to help those with ADHD stay focused. Billed as ‘the new ADHD-friendly web browser that limits distractions online’, Sidekick promises to help internet users stay focused while navigating the web. It does this by limiting the number of ads so that users aren’t side-tracked as they search the web, and unlike other search engines, Sidekick doesn’t make money by selling ads, but instead gets funding through subscriptions. Not great for advertisers, but as Google, Yahoo, et al, are all so popular, it’s unlikely to have too much impact on that front.  

As with any conversation, it’s important to stay on top of developments and ensure you adapt your strategies accordingly, whether that’s your digital and social media strategies, or your recruitment policies and processes.