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Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 08/18/2019 in all areas

  1. 1 point
    (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
  2. 1 point
    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.
  3. 1 point
    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.
  4. 1 point
    I can relate to the girl in the video.
  5. 1 point
    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.
  6. 1 point
    Nice, the HD58X is a great headphone There's an acoustic engineer on Reddit who measures headphones and he has an EQ profile for the HD58X: https://www.dropbox.com/s/lr0t5bm0g9h167t/Sennheiser HD58X.pdf?dl=0 I have an HD800 and an HD600, I run them out of an audio interface. "audiophile" DACs are borderline snake oil IMO, but it's nice to have a well-measuring DAC for the peace of mind. Audio Science Review is a good place to start: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?reviews/
  7. 1 point
    I have neighbors with awful taste and huge speakers. Luckily they don't throw parties so often but I can hear it in my parents' house and it's usually not anything good like sabbath or priest. I don't know what the hell they listen to, but it's real cruddy.
  8. 1 point
    That's cool. Hope you enjoy those. I have Sennheiser headphones which are meant for mixing music. They have a "flat frequency response" which enables you to hear what it is you're doing as a musician. No attenuating or boosting of particular frequencies like is in general the case with "consumer" headphones. For listening though I've just got some Sony earbuds… I couldn't enjoy a set of good speakers in my living room as I live in an apartment and it would drive my neighbours crazy also as I often listen to the same song over and over.
  9. 1 point
  10. 1 point
    I made one got a bit bored what do you think?
  11. 1 point
    I actually never really understood this one, but now that I read it, it makes sense. I do excel at being aspie. I think it's cute as well. I never really understood what a meme exactly is, either. I just think of them as a picture with some words on it that go along with it and usually the stuff said on it (picture and words) is supposed to be true in a funny way =edit: or just a truth=. There probably is a better definition for it out there though.
  12. 1 point
    I listen to a lot of electronic stuff (like everything from chilled out to dubstep - not just because I enjoy it anyway, but at times its like i feel the neurons in my head firing. the baselines and "noises" in that kind of music really really get into my head. I also listen to a lot of music people would consider sad, for me though it doesn't feel particularly sad, it just seems to hit the spot. This is mostly electronic music too. Its strange because i know i don't have superhuman hearing, i.e i'm not hearing sounds that other people don't, but i am pretty sure my brain does something different with it than usual. I quite often get a tingling in my head that spreads to my shoulders and back followed by goose bumps. I think if i put my head in a scanner and compared to NT it would be lit up more in some areas. I love it. My son does too, his headphones are nearly always on and he is super protective over his iPod.
  13. 0 points
    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


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