This blog is devoted to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, employees with autism or ASD, and organizational development. I respect and appreciate the efforts of others, the words that they have used, and their interest in advancing opportunities for people who are different.
Today, it is my privilege to introduce a new word into our lexicon which is relevant to organizations interested in the power of neurodiversity in the workplace. This new word is especially meaningful for people that it refers to whether they are diagnosed or not, regarded by others as such, or simply wonder about themselves and their interactions at work. I realize that by its very nature this word sounds intriguing and exotic. If the word evokes a desire to explore that is fine. However, the primary reason for using it is to reset an outdated term and the sometimes toxic attitudes which are associated with this word. Words that describe people should be more refined and edifying.
The new word for 2019 is Asperian. Use it and impress everyone!
Asperian takes the place of Asperger’s Syndrome, high functioning Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder also sometimes referred to as ASD. An Asperian specifically is a person with one of these disabilities or other sensory processing disorders who can hold employment in some capacity. Asperian is not intended to refer to all people with ASD nor does it suggest that Asperians no longer have ASD by simply making a declaration. But the word “Autism” has occasionally been a source of social hegemony and it is time for a fresh beginning. So, in the spirit of self-determination and interpersonal sensitivity please join me in adopting Asperian for the new year and beyond and be the first to share it with people around you.
Asperian is a positive term that focuses on human possibility. No two Asperians are the same. Just like no two neurotypical people are the same as to their mindset, skills, and behaviors. As a group, Asperians process information differently and they can act as a catalyst for the entire team to improve the experience of colleagues, and customers.
This new word comes with none of the social baggage of the last seventy years. Researchers and providers have never been more interested in ASD and they should be credited for their good effort to advance society’s understanding. Even though ASD emerged as the dominant term in the last several years, this also is somewhat problematic because spectrums are inherently broad. Also, most things in the human experience happens along spectrums whether they are mental, social, economic, political etc. Spectrums are imprecise.
Some organizations have rigorous mechanisms to exclude people who think differently or possess unique abilities because they are hostage to a misguided view of what is in the organization’s best interest. Despite this Asperians are in every occupation and at all levels of the workplace but are usually unseen and undervalued for their productive capability.
Because business is hotly competitive and ever more complex; Asperians represent a human resource that is well suited to solve our most pressing problems. Unfortunately, most organizations have not thought about Asperians in their midst while others have been satisfied with a lame “paint by numbers” approach to diversity and inclusion that does just enough to keep the EEOC away. When decision makers choose compliance as their primary objective for their diversity program, most of the economic benefits of real diversity and inclusion don’t materialize.
Asperian Nation® provides neurodiverse business strategies to help businesses crush their goals.