Q&A with Claire Cook
In honour of Neurodiversity Celebration week, our proprietor Claire, sat down to discuss her experiences with neurodiversity!
Can you tell us about your experience with Neurodiversity and your diagnosis?
I identify as an autistic woman with a formal diagnosis of ADHD which came only last year in December of 2022.
I find the co-morbidity of the two conditions challenging at times yet, they have not prevented me from achieving anything I have set my mind to.
How does it generally affect you and the way you experience the world?
I work hard to manage the areas of my condition that affect me the most, such as forgetfulness, by using practical strategies at home and at work – particularly with things like organisation and routines. This includes dedicating homes for items like keys and credit cards. Also, having robust filing systems for work and wardrobes is a must!
I can exhaust people with my need to know everything and I tend to plan things in detail to provide me the certainty I need to feel reassured. On the flip side, I can be impulsive and whimsical – I sometimes make decisions without always considering the consequences.
However, I am very resourceful and have learned how to build a team of incredible talent around me who support me to plug the gaps, understand my needs and celebrate and appreciate my strengths.
Employability Solutions truly is an inclusive organisation, with 17% of staff employed declaring some form of neurodiversity – what would you like other business leaders/employers to know about employing a neurodiverse workforce?
Get educated and discover the untapped potential of employing people with a broad range of neurodiverse brains and the benefits to the business and the bottom line.
My Nan used to say “It takes all sorts to make the world go round” so diversity really is key to a fulfilled and vibrant workforce.
I advise employees to really get to know themselves too and don’t shy away from bringing their whole selves to work.
We bring so much to the workplace too!
From those of us who love to follow instructions and routines and have excellent attendance at work to those of us who are free, creative, outside-the-box thinkers who bring new ideas and solutions to benefit the business.
With more understanding employers, some reasonable adjustments, and an open mind we can build better opportunities for young people entering the workforce for the first time.
I’m Glad to see in the spring budget 2023 additional resources being earmarked for supported employment opportunities for those young people with and without EHCP’s.
What would you consider your strengths to be, thanks to your neurodivergence and do you think this sets you apart from other people?
I can come up with creative solutions to problems quickly and can hold many ideas at once in my mind. I am relentless and rarely give up once I commit to something or someone.
I really understand the needs of the young people we serve, which helps me shape an inclusive organisation in which young people can learn to be themselves as soon as they begin their journey with us. For too long society had forced people like me to “fit in” and “comply” – I like to
I am honest (some might say too honest) but I don’t shy away from speaking my mind and although when I was younger this outspokenness got me into trouble and lots of it, it serves me now in the work I do to advocate for those whose voices are overlooked and needs aren’t met.