Navigating the workplace as a neurodivergent individual has been a journey of self-discovery, challenges, and triumphs. Neurodiversity encompasses a range of cognitive variations such as autism, ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Down Syndrome, dyslexia, and dyspraxia.

After being diagnosed with autism and ADHD at 38, I spent years concealing my true self in a world that often misunderstands neurodiversity. Despite the obstacles, this journey has empowered me to embrace my neurodivergent identity as a strength in both my personal and professional life.

Inspired by my son, who has an intellectual disability and autism, I pursued a career as a speech-language pathologist assistant. His challenges and abilities motivated me to help individuals like him find their voices and navigate their environments. This journey led me to roles as a nonprofit leader and advocate for neurodiversity in education.

Developing strategies to manage stress and maintain balance, including routines, rituals, stimming, and sensory equipment, has been crucial. As a speech therapist with Arizona Advanced Therapy, I’ve formed strong connections with my clients, assisting them in communication and self-expression.

In 2021, I co-founded EPIC Disability Advocacy, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering neurodiverse individuals and driving societal change. Our leadership development program, EmpowerU, equips neurodiverse individuals with essential skills and self-determination. Additionally, we offer consulting and training to enhance interactions and outcomes for the neurodiverse population.

Employers must support individuals with autism by recognizing their needs and strengths, providing accommodations, flexibility, and valuing employees for their work. Recognizing diversity in needs and abilities is essential for inclusivity and success.

Finding solutions that allow effective participation, such as coloring during meetings and wearing earplugs in loud environments, has been critical for me. Being elected to the Tempe Union High School Governing Board in 2022, I advocate for inclusivity and support for all learners, ensuring equity and appropriate resources for every student.

Despite ongoing challenges, I remain hopeful for a future where neurodivergent individuals can thrive. My diverse experiences have prepared me to advocate for a world where everyone, regardless of neurodivergent traits, has the opportunity to succeed.

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