10 ways neurodivergent thinking can help us adapt to an unusual world

We are all adjusting our lives in these unprecedented times, and you cannot help but think: are we in a movie where a superhero comes in and saves the world? 

A man putting different colored sticky notes on a wall

The reality is far from a movie, but we have been able to see the heroes amongst our NHS staff and key workers that have kept essential services running during the pandemic. Currently, we are living in an unusual world, and the way we adapt can help us to persevere and even grow within these times. This unusual time calls for unusual thinking. So, instead of looking for the hero or superhero from a movie for support, let’s look at how we can learn from each other. Here, we’ve identified 10 ways neurodiverse thinking can help us to adapt to an unusual world. 

1. Creativity 

Many neurodivergent people have a keen sense of curiosity and can be very imaginative. Many artists, actors and authors are known to be neurodivergent and have been able to make great use of their imagination. This unique thinking style can be harnessed during lockdown by unleashing your creative side. Try painting a picture (a great way to start is to look at paint by number kits), candle making, pottery and calligraphy writing. These are things we can all learn. Let your inner Picasso come through! 

2. Resilience 

Many neurodivergent individuals have faced obstacles and setbacks through their life, meaning that they have developed strategies to help them become more resilient and move forward. “Look at the positives” was suggested by a dyslexic employee at Lexxic when they were adapting to lockdown. Individuals with a neurodivergent condition implement strategies to help them become more resilient by doing things like mindfulness, yoga, or starting a journal and writing down 3 things they are grateful for. 

3. Innovation

Many successful entrepreneurs are neurodivergent. It has been speculated that social distancing and being in lockdown could result in many more innovative ideas and new businesses forming. Some individuals have switched their attention to marketing their ideas in this new world by using technology and social media. Why are so many entrepreneurs neurodivergent? They are proactive and let their ideas flow. They have flexibility to let their passion come through and enjoy talking through their ideas with others. Some find using a mind map can be very helpful to break their ideas down, which can help translate the idea into actions. Use this free time to think about your ideas, get them down into a mind map and set some actions for yourself.

4. Routine

Many individuals with Autism Spectrum condition (ASC) have a real strength for punctuality. Developing a clear, structured routine can really help with managing life under lockdown restrictions. Some individuals with a neurodivergent condition struggle with organization but have implemented highly effective coping mechanisms. These include having a set routine for when to start/end the day and when to take a lunch break. Working from home can sometimes result in not taking enough breaks, so adding lunch breaks in your calendar can help with sticking to a routine. Going for a walk before you start work can help you feel more energized, and it could create time for exercise. Having a routine can be very helpful to those that need to share childcare and other responsibilities while working.

5. Problem solving

One thing that Covid-19 has taught us is that we need to think differently, and neurodivergent individuals are skilled at identifying issues and developing a plan to solve problems. People with Dyslexia and ADHD, for example, are often out-of-the box thinkers with the ability to see the bigger picture, and that’s beneficial in times of uncertainty. On the other hand, people with Autism often have superb attention to detail, and when it comes to problem-solving, that’s beneficial to businesses adapting to change. 

6. Hyperfocus

A lot of people with a neurodivergent condition have the ability of hyperfocus, a strength that allows them to really focus on something that interests them. The ability to remain focused, and not become distracted by what is going on around you, can really help with productivity. It allows individuals to engage in activities that offer enjoyment and psychological reward. If there is a task that you are particularly interested in at work, ask to participate in more of these. When at home, if you have an interest in things like astronomy, or have a home DIY project, use this interest to focus your attention, and try not get distracted by things outside of your control. Planning your time can also really help with focus. 

7. Empathy

Empathy can be a strength some neurodivergent individuals possess. During this uncertain time, many people may be feeling overwhelmed, therefore practicing empathy could be beneficial for yourself and others. Promoting work-life balance can reduce undue burden and being flexible with deadlines during this period can really help. Offering emotional support to others, where possible, can help them feel cared about and it shows that you are considerate of their challenges. 

8. Social Interaction

Some neurodivergent individuals can have good verbal communication skills and are more inclined to build cohesiveness and bring people together. They organize more communication through phone or via video conferencing, as some can have difficulty composing emails and prefer using their verbal strengths. A positive impact that people with a neurodivergent condition have reported during this pandemic is that they are socializing more with colleagues than they ever did before. For example, they have taken part in team quizzes and family game nights. This can help us all with social interaction and connection at a time where we are required to socially distance ourselves in person. 

9. Logical Thinking 

Another thing the pandemic has taught us is that we need to think logically and rationally about decisions. Some individuals that are neurodivergent, such as those with ASC, can be logical thinkers and tend to think systematically by using data. This can be helpful for those that need to make decisions that are free from confirmation bias. 

10. Honesty

A trait that many neurodivergent individuals possess is honesty. This should always be encouraged, particularly during the pandemic, for people to reach out and ask for help and support if they are feeling overwhelmed or finding it difficult to adapt to working under restricted conditions. Being honest with others about things like project deadlines or the impact of Covid-19 on the business can bring in authenticity and respect.

Hear more from Lexxic in our video series partnership. Across three short videos, we explore neurodivergent conditions in detail, and offer advice on what organizations can do to support neurodivergent employees.

About Lexxic

Lexxic are leaders in empowering neurodiversity in the workplace. A specialist psychological consultancy, they believe all minds belong, so it is their mission to inspire a working world that supports and values the talents of neurodivergent minds, empowering individuals to be their best selves at work.