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Neurodiversity Celebration Week 2024 - Selena's Story

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To celebrate Neurodiversity Celebration Week this week, we asked colleagues if they would feel comfortable sharing their stories with us to help educate and encourage conversations around neurodiversity, including celebrating strengths and squashing misconceptions.

Today, we hear from Selena, Director of Operations at Opus, as she shares her story on navigating the workplace with Dyslexia.

What type of neurodiversity do you have?


How have you found navigating the workplace as neurodivergent?

Navigating the workplace as someone with Dyslexia has certainly presented its challenges, especially when it comes to written work. When I was younger, I struggled with written tasks, which could have been a hindrance to my progress. However, I've always maintained a "can-do" attitude, which has allowed me to compensate for these difficulties.

Over the years, I've noticed that there's often a bias towards certain skills, particularly in written communication, which can overshadow other strengths. It sometimes feels like you have to fit into a specific mould to progress, and individual strengths and talents aren’t accounted for. Despite this, I've been fortunate to work with understanding colleagues and employers who recognise the value of hard work, dedication, and, more importantly, playing to your strengths.

Overall, I've learned that having a positive attitude and being willing to put in the effort can overcome many challenges. While I may have wished for different abilities in the past, I've come to appreciate the unique perspective and skills that my Dyslexia brings to the table.

What strengths and skills do you feel your neurodiversity has enhanced for you in the workplace?

While some individuals may excel academically, they can struggle with emotional intelligence, this is something I've found Dyslexia gives me in abundance. Because I may shy away to an extent with regards to sending emails as a main form of communication, it’s meant that actually, by me picking up the phone to people (in this world of emails/Teams messages etc.), I’ve been able to build and maintain really effective relationships. I’m able to really understand the people I work with, not only in our team but also with our clients and other partnerships and I do feel quite strongly that this has led to my success within my role.

It’s also enhanced several strengths and skills that have been invaluable such as a natural inclination towards blue sky thinking and thinking outside of the box. This ability allows me to approach problems and tasks from unique perspectives and the ability to simplify complex concepts.

I've learned to value efficiency and effectiveness and I understand firsthand the challenges that individuals may face in certain areas. This empathy enables me to support and coach others with patience and understanding. I believe in empowering people to leverage their strengths and talents, rather than focusing solely on conforming to what some see as ‘tick box’ requirements within skill sets/roles.

Are there any common misconceptions or stereotypes you would like to address?

There is a stereotypical idea that individuals who are neurodivergent are not putting in enough effort and that success in certain fields is unattainable. Surprisingly, statistics indicate that approximately 40% of self-made millionaires are Dyslexic! Not that I’m putting myself in this bracket, but people such as Richard Branson, Jeffry Bezos, Steve Jobs, and Stephen Hawking are prime examples of individuals who have thrived despite their Dyslexia.

In the last 5-10 years, there have been so many ambassadors behind this, and in an evolving world, the skills such as creative thinking and the ability to streamline processes that neurodivergence brings, are increasingly desirable.

Do you have any advice or insights you would like to share with others who may have a similar neurodiversity?

It's essential to recognise that neurodiversity is a core part of who you are. It’s ingrained in your DNA. So rather than trying to change it, embracing it can be incredibly empowering. Trusting your instincts and intuition is crucial; they often lead you toward your strengths and unique perspectives.

Never underestimate your ability to recognise and nurture the strengths of others. Building confidence in yourself and those around you can be incredibly rewarding. Nobody possesses a perfect skill set and it’s important to draw upon the strengths of those around you to complement your own.

I wasn’t diagnosed with Dyslexia until later in life, so don't let a late diagnosis hold you back as it can still open doors to self-awareness and growth. Embrace your journey and the unique perspectives it brings.

​Thank you for sharing your story with us, Selena.