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  2. (Not written by me) Brain power: how government can make the most of neurodiversity From long-standing initiatives in the intelligence services to new staff networks, training and work experience, the civil service is waking up to the benefits of a more neurodiverse workforce. Tamsin Rutter reports on what is being done – and what more is to come "When you’ve met one person with autism,” says civil servant Tia Shafee, “you’ve met one person with autism.” In a workplace setting, this means that every person with autism – or indeed other neurological differences – will require different levels and types of support, and will be able to offer different strengths. It also speaks to the importance of empowering all people to share their experiences, and of avoiding assumptions. As the civil service steps up its efforts to become the UK’s “most inclusive employer” by 2020, it has turned its sights to neurodiversity – which Shafee describes as being “about people who think and function differently, because neurodivergent individuals’ brains are wired slightly differently from the norm. It is part of the natural variation in human brains”. Shafee recently joined the Civil Service Disability Inclusion Team, which sits in the Cabinet Office and responds to the priorities of disability champion and Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam. On neurodiversity, these priorities include making the workplace adjustment service as user-friendly as possible; expanding the Autism Exchange Programme to give young autistic people experience working in government; and organising a series of events with KPMG to share cross-sector best practice on disability, including a session planned for October on neurodiversity. Shafee, who uses the pronouns they/them, also set up the Public Sector Neurodiversity Network in February 2017. Diagnosed with autism at 19, they went on to join the Fast Stream and founded the network after being a member of a couple of different departmental disability networks that didn’t feel quite right. “They are brilliant organisations, they do some really good stuff for disabled people,” Shafee says. “But one thing I found was it just wasn’t covering the different needs and community groups that neurodivergent people like myself were finding. “If your disability network is still focusing on getting access to rooms... or recognising mental health, that’s an incredibly vital job but it isn’t necessarily hitting the more complex managerial needs that a line manager managing someone with dyspraxia or autism or ADHD might find.” Shafee, for example, doesn’t work well with changes to their routine at short notice, so has asked to be told a week in advance if they will be required to travel to another office. They struggle with identifying their own behaviours and matching them to civil service competencies. “It takes particular awareness of that from my line manager to work with me to help me understand how I fit in that competency framework, how I’m phrasing things, how I can respond to it,” Shafee says. They also frequently work while wearing a headset (to counter noise sensitivity), use lilac paper (to counter light sensitivity), and have been given a laptop with software to tint the screen and do text-to-speech (to help with information processing). Sometimes they take advantage of the civil service practice to guarantee an interview to disabled job applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a role. The network, which now has more than 170 members, issues a quarterly newsletter with stories from neurodivergent people sharing their experiences and the adjustments they have in place, and organises events to raise awareness. It plans to link up with the newly created Civil Service Dyslexia and Dyspraxia Network, which encourages senior officials affected by these conditions to become role models and provides support and mentoring opportunities. Eventually, Shafee wants to be able to provide resources for neurodivergent staff and their managers, though not by duplicating the “fantastic” resources already out there, such as the Department for Work and Pensions’ online Autism and Neurodiversity Toolkit for staff and managers. ‘Dull uniformity would destroy us’ Rupert McNeil, chief people officer, supports Shafee’s network, and spoke at its inaugural event. He says it’s his job “to ensure that we are both attracting diverse talent and effectively utilising the skills of our existing staff”. “That’s why I am encouraging the civil service to focus on the strengths that neurodiversity can bring to an organisation,” he adds. “For example, people with dyslexia often possess advanced problem-solving skills and can be highly innovative, while many people with autism have enhanced perceptual functions and a keen eye for detail.” Some areas of government are further ahead on this than others: the intelligence services, for example, have long been known to promote neurodiversity to meet specific skills needs. In 2016, then- GCHQ director Robert Hannigan said his organisation had many staff on the autistic spectrum, describing them as “precious assets and essential to our work of keeping the country safe”. He added: “To do our job, which is solving some of the hardest technology problems the world faces for security reasons, we need all talents and we need people who dare to think differently and be different… dull uniformity would completely destroy us.” Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, in a recent report on diversity in the UK intelligence community, highlighted best practice at GCHQ, MI5 and SIS (MI6) in recruiting and supporting disabled staff. It said GCHQ and SIS have launched “a comprehensive Neurodiversity Service, offering a range of support to GCHQ staff with dyslexia, dyspraxia or [an] autistic spectrum condition”, which has also been offered to MI5. The three agencies this year began participating in a programme to support disabled people into leadership positions, and they all run workshops on issues such as autism and Asperger syndrome, deaf awareness and visual awareness. The committee also said the intelligence agencies often enlist the support of members of their disability networks to test new IT infrastructure, something it argued should become common practice across the UK government intelligence community. A more coherent approach will enable individuals to hot desk or work at other sites or overseas, instead of relying on ad-hoc efforts to adapt and personalise systems, it said. The right opportunity Other parts of the civil service are also finding new ways to support neurodiverse staff. At the Home Office, employees with dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism run “train-the-trainer” workshops for line managers to help them better understand these conditions. HM Revenue & Customs has also run workshops on adapting recruitment processes and reasonable adjustments, and has consulted autistic people on the design and layout of the regional hubs staff will be moving into over the next few years. The Fast Stream has strong links with the workplace adjustment team, and also invites disabled candidates to visit its assessment centre prior to the date of their interview, which can help alleviate anxieties sometimes felt by people with neurodivergent conditions. Many departments take part in the Autism Exchange Programme, run by charity Ambitious About Autism, which aims to increase employment opportunities for autistic adults, just 16% of whom have full-time paid jobs in the UK. The programme was initiated in 2015 with HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions and a cohort of five young autistic people. It has since expanded, with 22 people doing three-week paid work experience placements in eight different departments this summer. Deutsche Bank, Santander, and other companies including in the professional services, marketing and advertising sectors now also offer work experience through the scheme. Alison Worsley, the charity’s director of external affairs, says the breadth of roles available in the civil service make it a particularly good option for matching up the various skills of participants with employers’ needs. Autistic people can make great employees. Although she says it’s important not to generalise, Worsley says they’re often very loyal because they often don’t like change. Some find routine or repetitive tasks stimulating, while others bring different perspectives to bear when problem-solving. “It’s about finding the right opportunity for the right person,” says Worsley, which is “why work experience can be so beneficial”. She also says that neurodiversity is something that “people across the board have tackled least in terms of diversity”, and schemes like this one give the civil service a chance to become more neurodiverse. Part of it is about giving people the confidence to disclose protected characteristics and making them more aware of the adjustments available to them. The charity also offers training for line managers as part of the scheme. For Amy Walker, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s aged 12, the Autism Exchange Programme was a perfect opportunity. She wants to join the civil service: “I have always had a ‘special interest’, as we say in the autism world, in politics, legislation, government policy,” she says. But Walker has previously tried applying for Whitehall jobs including the Fast Stream, and says she’s sometimes tripped up by the situational judgment questions that are looking for evidence of flexibility and adaptability – not usually core strengths for autistic people. She plans to keep trying, and had the chance to get tips and employability training from a Fast Stream psychologist during the two-week placement she did at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy last year. She spent the two weeks researching the nuclear industry and putting together a briefing document for civil servants new to BEIS’s nuclear commercial team. The experience helped her build confidence, and attracted her to the culture of the civil service, which is “easier to read” than some other workplaces. There are barriers to employment for Walker – some social interactions cause anxiety and “it takes me longer to adapt to new situations” – but these are counterbalanced by her analytical, admin, data and IT skills, she says. With organisations like the civil service waking up to the opportunities of a more neurodiverse workforce, Walker is optimistic that things will get easier for autistic jobseekers. She’s even developed a website, neurodiversityworks.uk, to collate and disseminate opportunities for neurodivergent people. ‘Embrace difference’ David Buck, a member of the One Team Government movement who works at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (which has launched a neurodiversity staff network of its own), believes the civil service has come a long way since he joined in 2000. Back then his manager, “unbeknownst to me at the time, had an objective to improve my spelling”, Buck says. His manager didn’t know that he was dyslexic. “What can I say… they didn’t do well on that objective.” Buck remembers disclosing his dyslexia and his type 2 bipolar disorder at the same time. “I was advised not to mention it, not to bring it up,” he says. “And for me, at that time this was the right thing, not just because of the prevailing culture of the civil service at the time – which reflected how things were in 2000 – but also for me personally. It meant that I could just get on with things.” It had only been a few years since Buck’s condition led to him being hospitalised three times while at university. In around 2010, he began to tell more people at work, opening up first to close colleagues and eventually getting to the point where, “I don’t mind chatting about what happened to me and my journey”, he says, adding that it was “a massive relief”. Buck joined Defra’s mental health staff network, Break the Stigma, where he volunteers as a “buddy” for people who need support. He has also now starting ticking “the diversity box on the internal staff system”, something which – like many people with disabilities – he avoided doing for a long time. Buck says the civil service’s commitment to diversity can only be a good thing, but he fears that an over-concentration on measurements and targets may sideline real efforts to make change. “It seems to be simple to me – just embrace difference, look for it, actively seek it out, listen to it, and keep working out what privileges you have,” he says. He adds that the “pace of work in the civil service can be quite astounding”, making it difficult for neurodivergent people to settle, but also that there are “thousands of people out there to support you”. Buck recently responded to a call from Shafee’s network to lead a session on neurodiversity for an audience of Fast Streamers. “I’ll be talking about difference, about how we’re all individuals and how the more comfortable we can get in explaining our difference the better,” he says. “Understanding and appreciating different people’s perspectives is what makes a good civil servant.” Source: Civil Service World
  3. Luke

    Any audiophiles?

    EqualizerAPO: https://sourceforge.net/projects/equalizerapo/ Here's the same EQ profile, but with a flat bass response instead: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1I4qhqsBS93QL0VpRqdYs0VwKDV1jPYeK
  4. Peridot

    More or less autistic at differnt times

    There's this thing some refer to as a "bitchy resting face" where people's natural facial expression can easily be interpreted as mean. When I walk through the supermarket I sometimes wonder if I come across as a grumpy guy as I often have a somewhat expressionless face.
  5. ancus

    ethics of conversation?

    I thought I'd responded to this but apparently not. Oh well. So anyway. She lives in New York and wants me to come visit her. She kind of offered to buy me plane tickets? I don't know if she was serious. That's a lot of money. It's kind of funny to be asked by someone to get on a plane, when I'm also considering fleeing the country if things get really bad. (really, I'm getting my passport renewed soon, and there's a program for teaching English as a second language potentially in Spain that I'm going to sniff out at my next opportunity). If Trump wins reelection in 2020, I'm very frightened of what will happen. I already have reams of medical documents showing I am autistic and I have ADHD, and I'm part of a small local trans community and I rarely hide the fact I'm bisexual except when I'm around my dad. So it's pretty easy the likes of Mike Pence to find me, if he decides it's time for the electroshocks to begin.
  6. LyssApie

    More or less autistic at differnt times

    In my experience with asperger's, I find that my speach is fine. I can talk to customers at work and I have an out going personality. My only speach problem is that I often sound sarcastic and snarky without meaning to, this can be a problem when talking to customer.
  7. Last week
  8. HalfFull

    More or less autistic at differnt times

    I guess there's a very strong correlation between my energy and relaxation levels and how Autistic/not so Autistic I seem coupled to some extent with my environment. If all the cards are aligned in my favour I probably seem relatively normal, but if you start to remove a few of them from the deck, I might start to 'wobble' a bit like the cards. If I was placed under severe stress and was totally exhausted then the mask would slip. I think I always seem a bit different to most people but only sometimes enough to appear Autistic. I do falter with eye contact quite often though and that's probably the most outward clue.
  9. LyssApie

    Asperger's and autism memes

    These are awesome
  10. Dr-David-Banner

    Defending Hans Asperger

    Some small point that struck me hard: Did anyone ever wonder why Asperger asked his patients to describe how they perceived differences between a butterfly and a caterpillar? This is one rare case of reincarnation during a life span and has interested Budhists for centuries. The question also tests a student in a very non rigid way but an answer can indicate power of imagination and abstract approach. Also he asks to describe differences between a ladder and stairway. All designed to test in unorthodox ways.
  11. Dr-David-Banner

    Defending Hans Asperger

    I sometimes wonder if Asperger's essays are available in English in the UK. Quick searches failed to locate more than fragments but surely they must be out there? They are not complex to read. You can get to the heart of it by skipping most of essay 1 and wading into essay 2. This gives about three case studies with added headings that explain how all the behaviour patterns fit in. The patients boarded at the clinic so assessment was ongoing. The emphasis on education and testing makes Asperger's approach better than his rivals. It's a far wider perspective with points other specialists never grasped. In truth dropping Asperger and his work in Vienna would be like trying, to launch rockets while ignoring the knowledge of the V2 rocket scientists from Germany (after the war who migrated to work for NASA). Who wants to return to the pre eighties era when psychology was behind?
  12. Dr-David-Banner

    Defending Hans Asperger

    I referenced dates yesterday and discovered USSR specialist V. Kagan published a thorough outline of ASD around 1976. This at least in theory was similar to Kanner's and Asperger's take on the subject. In the UK it wasn't till the early eighties Lorna Wing brought the same information to Brits, Australians and Americans. So USSR countries such as Lithuania, Ukraine, Estonia were ahead. The source would have been in German language which had to be translated for English speakers. Probably the USSR had East German texts to help their own psychiatrists. I can only assume the sciences of psychology and psychiatry in the UK lagged Germany. Lorna Wing stated nothing was known of Asperger in the UK before 1980 but he is quoted as A.S. Sperger in some USSR texts.
  13. Wow I've never seen the a bow used on the marumba? Vibes? Can't remember what they are called. Very interesting
  14. Aspergolfer

    Music

    I know that in Christ I have eternal life. One day, my Savior is going to split the sky and return in great power and glory. Whether alive or dead, that is my blessed hope. "For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain will not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend with a shout, the voice of the archangel and the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
  15. Ace

    Music

    Just know that everything will come to pass eventually. There are people that love you, they just show it different than we would. Hopefully you have someone like in the second part of the video who would come after you in a situation like that. Sometimes I will listen to sad music to amplify the sad moments in my life. I feel like it really helps me get through them rather than dwell on it. Like for example this song Kinda repetitive at the beginning but when the male vocals start it really hits me
  16. Dr-David-Banner

    Defending Hans Asperger

    Just to add to Steve's analysis: In the video Steve stated how Asperger's Clinic was so different to what you would have expected. There was a different angle to it altogether. This is definitely what I picked up in Asperger's essays. Let me explain: These days I read a lot of high quality essays by highly qualified USSR psychiatrists and neurologists but "all" of them come from a direction of autistic people as being "defective", "ill", "socially inept". There is no looking at the subject as a bigger picture. Whereas the USSR doctors accurately record the symptoms and contemplate which drugs to use or how to "normalise" the patients, Asperger asks some very searching much broader questions: (1) How come these kids perform so badly socially (and at school) but their parents tend to be intellectual or a history of intellectualism (as well as aloofness) in the family? (2) What does it mean that the kids tend to perform better than average kids in cases where tests switch to "abstract problems"? (3) Individuality. Asperger understood and pointed out that we "need" individuality to be able to reject mass belief and opinion while we strive for truth. Too much individuality and we are unable to assimilate knowledge passed on by others. Too little individuality and we become like a herd mentality, blindly following popular opinion. Asperger realised individuality was often an asset. And finally, I also have this belief when Lorna Wing back in the late eighties borrowed from Asperger's work to develop her Asperger Syndrome diagnosis, I think she didn't have the same grasp of Asperger as Steve above in the video. I think she missed the point of what Asperger was trying to do and I always figured she cherry picked his work.
  17. Dr-David-Banner

    Defending Hans Asperger

    I think you'll find if you Google something like "Hans Asperger discredited", you will find countless examples of people expressing their shock and horror. Unfortunately, all these people are assuming what they've been told is undisputed and a proven fact. Fortunately, I'm not the only one to be sceptical. Already someone has written a solid argument defending Asperger in light of the reality of the Fascist occupation of Austria (where Asperger's clinic was located). Here we have to be careful not to apply seemingly rational gut reactions to a time in history when thousands were dying in the war with Nazism. Some high profile people like Asperger needed to bide for time and wait it out. Besides that, Asperger's written essays and studies on autism simply don't hold any common ground with Nazi philosophy or the idea human beings were supposed to be blond-haired and blue-eyed as well as psychologically "perfect". Asperger's work is the exact opposite. The question to ask is why did the accusations against Asperger become public at the very time the Asperger diagnosis was to be scrapped and replaced by A.S.D.? Really it strikes me as an attempt to wipe the blackboard clean and start afresh. Steve Silberman here weighs in on defending Asperger and we seem to see eye-to-eye totally (first time I just saw this video by recommendation)
  18. Peridot

    Music is the language of emotion

    Yeah, you could look at music as a language. Someone once said it's the "sound of the soul" which I thought was interesting. In art you've got form due to content. When I write music I guess an aim is to write something which evokes a similar set of emotions in the listener as those I focus on during the writing. What the listener associates that music and that emotional impact with in their minds may be different than what the original inspiration for the music was though. There's a piece called "Sextet" by Steve Reich which makes me think of sleep. Of how you kind of refuel during sleep. But what Reich was thinking about when he wrote it was probably something else.
  19. Aspergolfer

    Music

    I can relate to the girl in the video.
  20. So a short story to get this started: back maybe a year ago I was applying for jobs to sustain myself in college. While applying, there were a couple of the applications that asked how many languages I was fluent in. Of coarse I reluctantly said 1 because I have almost entirely forgot Spanish from high school. But it got me thinking, if I don't limit to spoken language (the type with words and pronounsiations and grammar rules etc) I guess I could say I knew 3ish languages. And what I mean by that is, 1 I know English (one of the languages of meaning?), 2 I know math pretty well (the language of quantitative value and calculation), 3 I know music (both read/write music but also listening to it) (the language of emotion), and I say 3ish because I've picked up a little bit of coding languages over the years but by no means have I become good at any one coding language. My thoughts about the music as the language of emotion can be fairly simply explained. If you take any song with or without lyrics and show it to anyone in the world, weather they understand the language the lyrics are in or not, they will feel the emotion that the music portrays. Now of course actually listening to the lyrics and knowing what they say can add a whole new layer or more depth of emotion but generally the music's emotion and the lyrics emotion line up. Also another layer/depth of emotion is added when it has an accompaning video or album cover. So my conclusion is that music has an associated emotion that people generally feel the same for each song (ie most people will know when they are listening to sad music). Now that doesn't work when the person is annoyed by the genre or whatever but that's a personal preference thing. Just as I might be annoyed at different types of math or that I like the way Japanese sounds even though I can't understand it. What are your thoughts on this? This is an idea I came up with on my own and I'm open to constructive criticism. So have at it
  21. Ace

    ethics of conversation?

    Oh apparently I underlined stuff? Not sure how
  22. Ace

    ethics of conversation?

    Sometimes with close friends I'll just put a "disclaimer" of sorts saying something like "hey I hope you don't mind, I'm going to blaber on about " but only to the friends that are good listeners.
  23. Ace

    ethics of conversation?

    Honestly I think it depends on the person. If they are the good listener type then they probably won't mind. Although I've found some people say they are good listeners or "if you ever need to talk I'm here" but then end up butting in and interjecting their own conversation into yours. These types also don't mind much but it annoyed me more than just having an awkward silence instead. Then I imagine there are the type that might be annoyed by it and are probably self absorbed, which I am not friends with people like that so couldn't tell you much about them.
  24. Ace

    Asperger's and autism memes

    Yea, my family always remarks that I am very sarcastic and I'd agree with that but I also have some weird humor I hide from them just because they get confused or don't get it. I know these aren't memes about Asperger's or autism but they are memes. Enjoy, if you can I guess
  25. A few weeks ago I was having flashbacks and I wanted to feel better so I messaged a friend of mine and told her that she was beautiful and cool and we had a nice conversation. I didn't talk about my flashbacks though. And I wonder if it would have been okay for me to do so. I just don't want to pressure her into talking to me if she don't want to, I don't want her to feel like, oh no, she has to chat with me right now or else I'm gonna do something drastic or whatever. She knows that I have them, I just didn't mention I'd been going through one for about a day or two.
  26. Ace

    Next poster must listen to...

    Actually really like the first song. The others were good but the video seemed nicely put together. Haven't watched much anime but would consider it if I wasn't already invested in YouTube subscriptions and going to school to be a mechanical engineer. I like found this song more recently:
  27. Ace

    Any audiophiles?

    Thanks! I was looking at the EQ you mentioned. I personally do like a little more bass which is why I chose the 58x but I also would like to try the flat EQ sometimes. Do you know what software could do an EQ like that? I'll be using these with windows 10 so I'm sure there is something I can download. Just wasn't sure what they used.
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