Welcome to Crazy and the King!!
Oct. 20, 2022

CATK NDEAM TAKEOVER: Theo Smith and Amanda Kirby

CATK NDEAM TAKEOVER: Theo Smith and Amanda Kirby

CATK Disability NDEAM Takeover continues from the other side of the pond!

This week it is all about neurodiversity!

Theo Smith, once upon a time a professional actor, then a leading expert in the field of recruitment. He now uses his thespian skills to entertain his daughter and son and to inspire organisations and the world to the idea that neurodiversity is the future of work and beyond.

Amanda Kirby is the founder and CEO of Do-IT Solutions, a tech for good company that provides tools, training and consultancy in the area of neurodiversity and wellbeing. She has written 9 books and more than 100 research papers in the field and her latest book published in 2021:'Neurodiversity at Work, Drive Innovation, Performance and Productivity with a Neurodiverse Workforce' has won the Business Book Awards 2022 for EDI. Amanda has a new book on Neurodiversity in Education coming out in first quarter of 2023.

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Production and Music: DJ Cellz


0:00:00.0 Speaker 1: We've been about this work, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, shared through the voices of a white woman and a black man. We bring lived experiences. We have pursued D&I Progress for most of our professional lives. We use Crazy And The King to cover news, tips from colleagues and host incredible guests. Listeners count on Julie and I to transparently drive the conversation. We thank you for rocking with us. Check it, Julie, kick off the show.






0:00:39.0 Julie: Crazy And The King.


0:00:42.1 Theo Smith: Take over. Amanda and Theo are in the house.


0:00:47.8 S?: Woo, Woo, woo.


0:00:49.3 Theo Smith: What a pleasure and a privilege. So I'm just gonna hit it right over to Amanda so that Amanda can introduce herself and share with you a little bit about our background experience and why we're taking over this show today.


0:01:05.7 Amanda Kirby: So, great. Thank you so much. I'm really... It's great to be here. So I'm an odd ball. I don't fit into a neat basket or a box and you can't really define me. I am a neurodivergent adult coming from a neurodivergent family where we've got my parents and grandchildren and children. We're all neurodiverse. We're the epitome of neurodiversity. We also are... I'm a doctor, medical doctor and I've worked in the field of neurodiversity for 25, 30 years and done research and ran a clinical center. So, I really am an odd book 'cause I don't fit into nice, neat boxes. And I'm a CEO of a tech for good company as well. So there you go. And co-author with Theo.


0:01:51.6 Theo Smith: Amazing. Exactly. Co-author of this incredible book written by a couple of odd balls, Neurodiversity at Work. And we won an award for the book, award. Woo. And we're up for the European award for the book this week as well, which we're very excited about. Cross your fingers. But the reason why we're here, well, first of all, because we've had the blessing of being invited, which is always nice when you get asked into the room. But 'cause we wanna talk about our passion of neurodiversity and Amanda intro'd beautifully there around her background and experience. And in many respects, we have many similarities, Amanda and I. We are both neurodiverse, we are both odd balls. We are both made up of wonderful, weird and wonderful cognitive variations...


0:02:42.0 Amanda Kirby: We do.


0:02:45.5 Theo Smith: And that make us who we are. But that's the subject today that we are focusing on, one that we're passionate about and that subject is neurodiversity. And for those who may not have come across the term, this maybe new to them, hopefully, you know there are not many people left on all four corners of the earth that haven't heard it at least once. But for those people who haven't, let's maybe give you a brief introduction. Amanda, do you wanna give listeners today an idea of what exactly neurodiversity is?


0:03:18.2 Amanda Kirby: I can. So neurodiversity is the way we think, move, process, act, and communicate differently. And neurodiversity is the variations in the way that we all do that. We've got 84 billion brain cells connected in billions of different ways. So why would we not have various ways we communicate, think, move, and process. But the world's made up of doing things in a sort of average sort of way. So at school you're expected to sit and listen and write and you're expected to be quite good at sport, but not everybody is. Some people are really good at it and some people have got real challenges in that way. So neurodiversity is respecting those differences. It doesn't mean autism, it means a variety of different ways that we process information. And some people have conditions like ADHD and dyslexia and dyspraxia and autism, but not everybody does. And it means that some people have got spiky profiles with really good strengths and some people will have challenges as well.


0:04:20.8 Theo Smith: Brilliant, lovely explanation. And you know, I'm Theo Smith, for those of you that don't know, and I'm a recruiter by trade. And neurodiversity came to me as a passion only around four or five years ago. And today we're gonna enlighten you, we're gonna surprise you. We're gonna discuss some of the news, some of the key topics around neurodiversity. And we're gonna do it in, well, I say true Crazy And The King style. Maybe we'll follow some of the kind of structure, but beyond that, you are going to get Amanda and Theo today, which hopefully will blow your doors off. Well and truly. So let's get in, let's get at it, right? So, first of all, we're gonna talk, we're gonna have a chat, we are gonna have a conversation and we're gonna focus on some of the news and some of the news that's going around neurodiversity at the moment is really fascinating. Because I mean, Amanda, you'll probably agree, year two, year three years ago we were still getting news that was pretty kind of, I don't know, toxic...


0:05:28.5 Amanda Kirby: [0:05:28.5] ____.


0:05:29.9 Theo Smith: Yeah, it didn't really fit our viewpoint and the direction of where neurodiversity was going. Would you agree?


0:05:36.7 Amanda Kirby: Yeah, definitely. And when I think what's been great over the last couple of years, the framing around neurodiversity is becoming a much more positive one. It's like how can we be inclusive? How do we capture the talent from people that are out there, that we're missing at the moment? So real change in framing away from sort of the deficit and disability and disorder, that's not minimizing challenges that people have. 'Cause some people have significant challenges, navigating education, navigating employment can be really challenging. But the great things on the news, we are starting to talk about people's strengths and why it's really important to identify strengths, as well as minimize those challenges. So yeah, I think so. I think there's been a real change in the sort of stories that are in the press.


0:06:21.2 Theo Smith: Brilliant. And on that note, we're gonna hit right into the press. So you focused on something that you and I are really passionate about, and that's the lens of strengths, right? Fed up of three, four years ago reading business psychologists, occupational psychologists, psychologists and GPs, and I don't know, professors.


0:06:42.3 Amanda Kirby: People like me. People like me.


0:06:44.4 Theo Smith: Yeah, people like you, Amanda, argh. Well, no, exactly the polar opposite to you. But you know, there's different aspects of people in all areas of life, right? But the reality is, I read these long lists of what was wrong with people and it really used to do my head in like, here's the 20 things that's wrong with somebody who's autistic. Now go and hire them. Well, no, nobody's gonna go and hire them 'cause you've got a long list of what's wrong with them, right? We've all got stuff wrong with us. We're all a bit quirky and a bit odd. Like, we don't walk into a room and tell everybody all the things wrong with us. We go in and we try and look like we know what we're doing and we're competent. So, I love that that's the direction we're going. But one of the key areas that have, that's been talked about, especially in the last 12 months, and that's relayed into this article here, there's been many articles across the globe, I'd say more probably US, UK, some areas of Europe if we are honest.


0:07:38.6 Theo Smith: And that's around women and women getting representation, especially around the diagnosis of ADHD, autism, basically women getting lost and you've written a ton of stuff around this, but we're now seeing the... I mean, this one's from the conversation.com, they've highlighted an article, I think I have ADHD. How do I get a diagnosis? What might it mean for me? And the reality is, only like, what is it like? One in four women who are ND only one... One in four people who have like a label are women, I think was the stat. And that's the kind of the sad reality of where we are, right?


0:08:21.3 Amanda Kirby: It is. But the problem has been till now, really, for years and years and years, we thought that neurodivergent traits and conditions were much, much more common in men. The problem with that was, we were looking through a male lens. So if you look like, you are looking for zebras, you'll find zebras. But actually when there's horses around, you need to look for the horses as well. There's similarities, but there's differences. And what we've recognized that females often say with ADHD are... Can be more dreamy, more inattentive, not disruptive, not very fidgety, overtly fidgety, so they are very helpful. I'm like that, in the classroom, in school I was the one at the back who would be whispering to the girl next door would be doodling endlessly but helpful, getting up and moving around. So, girls got missed because often they would be getting anxious and they would end up going to see their doctor, maybe getting a diagnosis of anxiety and depression and being treated for it.


0:09:17.2 Amanda Kirby: Now the problem with that is, okay, you might be anxious or depressed, but maybe you've got ADHD and it's not being diagnosed. Where you're given a diagnosis but you've been given the wrong one and you're given an antidepressant, it doesn't work. So what happens? You go back again and you're given another antidepressant, you go back again, you're really bad now, we're going back to the strengths thing, so you must be really bad, you're given another one and it doesn't work. So, what happens is often females don't get the right diagnosis. They get a psychiatric diagnosis, but they don't actually get the diagnosis of ADHD and autism's the same. There's lots of overlap in autism. Females who are on the autism spectrum or are autistic, whichever you prefer, different people like different ways to frame this. Well, they often fit in, they mask, they camouflage, they can mimic everybody around them to be like everybody else, and they get lost again, so they don't get identified.


0:10:14.9 Amanda Kirby: So one of the key things that we're finding now with diagnosis, which is so important, is that we have to train different people to know about this. That's really important. So family doctors, psychiatrists, people who are in the community to recognize and women themselves to go, do you know what, you may have ADHD, autism or dyspraxia or developmental coordination disorder, but you may have been missed. And so, there's lots of women popping up now. And the other bit is, we're recognizing now that things like your hormones have an effect on how you are. So, different times of the month you could behave differently, but it could be affecting your ADHD trait. So we're learning loads. So this is such an exciting area to see people being appropriately diagnosed if they wanted.


0:11:07.1 Theo Smith: Great. And the other thing that I'm seeing here is prominent women standing up and going, That might be me. People in the media, whoever, whatever job or role they're doing, people start to stand up and go, "That's me. I'm getting the diagnosis and then I'm publicizing that via a particular channel", which is powerful, because a lot of people are going, "well, she doesn't look autistic or ADHD", which is rubbish, right? But that is the reality. People need to see somebody and go, "Oh, that's what autism can look like in a woman."


0:11:41.5 Amanda Kirby: Absolutely. So really important. So we're seeing people like the Simone Biles and comedians standing up. People who are leaders in industry who are confident. You have to be confident. Usually you've gotta be successful in your own rights, so you can stand there and go, this is me, warts and all, this is the whole of me. All the good bits and the other bits. So we're starting to see women coming to the fore being talked about and described and being able to tell their stories so powerful, because they say what it's like for a woman to have ADHD or autism, which is different. And that's how we're starting to do the research in this field, 'cause we're starting to understand what are the differences? And there are, there's similarities as well, but there's also differences. And leaders in... Whether it's in sports or in industry, having female leaders means other women can come forward and go, "Do you know what? I think that's me too." And that's exactly what is happening.


0:12:35.8 Theo Smith: Brilliant. And I mean, this is important, right? Because I think my daughter and her experiences already, I feel like we're empowering her so much at the age of nine, because there's so much I can do for understanding, I can look to women who are talking out and people in our network. You, Amanda, you know, and that empowers me as a dad as well. So it doesn't just stop at the individual who's impacted. Like, how much help it is for us parents, for dads who wanna like, help their daughters, but don't... Need to kinda figure out what that looks like. Let me just go onto the next article, because it linked into what you were mentioning a second ago, which was around care. We think about healthcare, social care, we are talking about psychiatrists, like who... [chuckle] Who cares for the carer? Who nurses the nurse?


0:13:29.3 Theo Smith: And what this article focuses on at www.communitycare.co.uk, neurodivergent social workers exhausted workplace lack of understanding. Now, Wow. And this... And when we think around a lot of neurodiverse people may have high levels of empathy, for example, they may fit really well into these caring roles, yet we are not considering them as part of that environment and structure. And we've just gone through COVID, like these people need our help and support. Well, what's going on here, Amanda, like...


0:14:10.4 Amanda Kirby: Well, I know this study a lot because I was one of the people who did the study.


0:14:14.3 Theo Smith: Yay!


0:14:15.6 Amanda Kirby: So, I think first of all, really important, yeah, we don't care for the carers. And this is a really important role. So, this is carers who are parents, carers who are working and what we know, two pieces of work I've done. So one was with the social workers and one was looking at empathy levels. So, if you care too much, you have a high emotional empathy, it can become overwhelming. You worry about the world, you worry about everything's going... Gosh, you think about everything's going on in the world at the moment, that's pretty overwhelming. And what we see is that some people have high levels of emotional level, empathy and lower levels of cognitive empathy. And the cognitive bit allows you to put it in to sort of scale it go. I can't deal with the world, but I can deal with my child in school. So if you have too much of one and not the other and you're a carer, then you can become really overwhelmed and it can... You could get burnout, you get anxious, 'cause you are really taking it home with you.


0:15:08.8 Amanda Kirby: Now if you are a parent and you're trying to care for your children and lots of parents are neurodivergent who have children who are neurodivergent, like both of us, is that, that can be really hard. Because actually navigating school systems and healthcare systems and worrying about the future of your child and what they're going to be doing really can be really exhausting. And lots of parents we see also end up... Some of them end up taking jobs which are lesser paid because they need to be at home more. And we don't think about those secondary consequences or not going for, perhaps not going for a good job or going for promotion, 'cause they need to have that stability to be at home, to pick up their kids and to take them places. So this is really important. We forget the parents of children and we forget the carers of those who are caring for others. And the social workers, particularly as you said, they've had a really hard time and we should really be more caring and supporting and recognizing you are going to have neurodiverse people who are social workers and nurses and doctors. Ta-da, you really are. So we need to look after them too.


0:16:17.0 Theo Smith: Absolutely, brilliant. Yeah. And like my wife is not ND, well, maybe she is who knows, right? But we've not got that label for her yet. But she has to put up with me and she has to deal with the house, the people in the house, and my daughter and everything else. So like, she still has to go to work. She still has to do a job. So you're right, it's not... Sometimes we just get too focused on maybe an individual whereas it's much bigger than that. It's much more complex. We're talking about 20%, 30%, 40% of the population and then more if we think about families and networks and environments.


0:16:52.3 Amanda Kirby: Ramifications of that. Absolutely. It ripples through the family. And navigating systems can be really difficult for people as well to get them the health services that they require.


0:17:01.2 Theo Smith: So, final story, and I think this is just to show that it's not yet hit the dizzy heights that we need it to in terms of leadership. So this is a www.london.edu think neurodiversity article and it highlights Charlotte Valeur showing us that there is still a lot of work to removing stigma and barriers. And you know what, if leaders don't share their experiences, how can we expect employees to unmask? And that's kinda my thought around this article, which is, she's able to see at that level, and it's just not enough representation.


0:17:41.6 Amanda Kirby: No, and I think Charlotte's a really good representation of somebody who has been in a leadership position. She's been a leader of leaders, so she also knows what it takes to be a leader. But she's actually recognizing she's a compassionate leader. So she's trying to make sure that people understand that you can do that. You can be highly effective. And having somebody like that stand up and talk and tell her story, she only got diagnosed later in life as well, so she's very good and reflective about her early experiences. And she was head of the art institute of directors in the UK. So she really understands leadership. And I think if we're gonna make sure that people can progress into leader roles, we need to have compassionate leaders. We need to have leaders who care and we need to have leaders who deliver leadership in lots of different styles. We don't have to have the dogmatic leader. We can have the caring, the reflective. We need lots of different sorts of leaders around for a more diverse world. More now than ever before, I would say.


0:18:42.0 Theo Smith: Brilliant. I like that more. I'll lean towards the more caring leader. That's where I see my place and the type of leader that I wanna be inspired to. So we're gonna be off for a short while, but we'll be back soon.


0:18:58.4 Amanda Kirby: See you soon.


0:19:03.4 Theo Smith: Welcome back. Haha. I know. It felt like a million years waiting to hear from us again. Well, here we are and we're gonna get deep into the conversation. We started wide, we're going deep. So, it's all good and well, right? This is starting to get out in the news. We're starting to hear more about it. But let's face the reality, Amanda. Still, we are a drop in the ocean in terms of where we need to be with the concept of neurodiversity. Am I right or wrong?


0:19:35.8 Amanda Kirby: You are right. I mean, I've been working in this field for 25, 30 years and somebody said to me the other day, "Oh, it's great, this new thing called neurodiversity." I'm thinking, "It's been around a while, but conceptually, good thing we're talking about neurodiversity", and more people are talking about neurodiversity and we talk about neurodiversity every day. We sleep it, we eat it, we write it. We really believe this is really important. However, when you go out into the wider world, then actually the reality of that is not the same. And I think sometimes people are thinking, What's that? And who are they? And there is a bit of that othering that those people, what do we need to do for those people? And so we still have got a way to go to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to do their best in education and to be their best in employment all the way through, you know, all the way through. And I think we've got a long way to go before we see, actually we don't need this conversation because the world is an inclusive place.


0:20:43.4 Amanda Kirby: I love that. But I think we've still got a way to go because I think lots of employers are really anxious. How much do I need to know? What do I need to do? What do I need to do first? I don't know what to say, I won't have any conversation with them and then shut down. So I think, you know, we've gotta make it easier for people to understand. You don't need to be a specialist. You don't need to be hugely knowledgeable, but what you do need to be is curious. And you need to be respectful and you need to be exploring what can we do to make that person be their best self? And that's an easier conversation to have, perhaps.


0:21:16.2 Theo Smith: Yeah, we need to be human, right? That is kind of what it boils down to, which people kind of forget. And, one of the issues that I have is even though, you know, we can both get excited about this, we can talk about it, we can get others excited about it, but you are right, it's still kind of in this bubble. And what I tend to find is that, you can go onto the school yard and, you know, thinking about me or my daughter being neurodiverse and how many labels and autistic and ADHD and, dyslexic, and you know, she has them all. She could probably have more, you know, if we looked for them.


0:21:53.2 Amanda Kirby: Like my kids, and my grandkids the same thing. [chuckle]


0:21:56.1 Theo Smith: Exactly, exactly. Right. But the problem is, when you start to listen, when you start to mention things like maybe to people about this, you still hear a lot of kind of confusion and negativity. Like, Oh, they're autistic. I'm so sorry. Or, or oh...


0:22:12.0 Amanda Kirby: They're suffering. Are they suffering? Are they suffering? They're suffering from ADHD. No, they're not suffering from ADHD. They have ADHD, but they're not suffering from ADHD. So the language is, yeah, really hard, doesn't it?


0:22:26.1 Theo Smith: Exactly. And it's because of the stuff that we see on the news, right? So you'll watch the news and you'll still see, you know, somebody mistreated who's autistic in a center where they've had 24/7 there for the last 10 years, and they've been locked in a white room in a white jacket, right? And, so then everybody just goes, Right? Somebody with autism, or somebody's autistic or somebody's on the spectrum, is this, that's what they are. Or they can't communicate or they need to be in a special school if they can't go to normal mainstream school. Like, and it's just, it ignores like the whole rest of some of these life, their experiences, where they come from, what they're about, how their brain works, You know, there's so much else that comes into it. But they, if what I gotta, the challenge I've got is when I'm on that school yard, and I'm hearing that, those people are the same people who go into organizations and manage other people.


0:23:23.8 Theo Smith: They're the same people who work alongside you. They're the same people. They're no different, but they'd also parents. So if we can't communicate that at a school level, an education level, which you would hope that we would, we start to get to a point where we can, whoa. And then I start to go, Whoa. Like how are we gonna, how are we gonna come into organizations to be able to start to really think about this properly?


0:23:50.3 Amanda Kirby: But, you know, I think it's about... I think as human beings, we like to categorize. So we like to say, you're tall or you're short, or you're in or you're out, you're sporty or you're not. Right? And I think that we do this as human beings. And actually on the school yard, that's exactly what parents are doing. And that's what's actually happening when we go into employment as well. So do we want to have somebody like us or do we want to have our diversity of ways of thinking and doing things that may sometimes be more challenging because you're gonna have to check your communication and understanding. And there's a fear factor that, but I don't know what to do. And this might be harder, but what you gain is a whole way of society not throwing away talent, You know? So like your daughter, like my grandson, you know, I want him to have the best life. He's bright and he's capable, and he should be...


0:24:43.9 Amanda Kirby: I was gonna say, should be Prime Minister, but he shouldn't be prime minister. But he, could be a lot of other... No. But he could be a lot of other things, you know, But he needs to be included in parties after school and he needs to be included by other kids in the classroom. Parents still do... What lots of people do is go like, not like, Right? Rather than actually celebrating the differences that children have. And you're absolutely right. It starts, I remember 30 plus years ago with my son and you know, people would go, "And so what has he got", You know, in a sort of rather condescending manner. And, it was difficult. It was difficult because you didn't always have the words. These days, I think we've got more vocabulary to say, Look, these are your strengths. This is what you can do. And that's really important for our children growing up, whatever age they are, that they go into the workplace going, This is me. This is what I can do. Not feeling apologetic about, I'm telling you I've got, I'm really sorry, you want me because I can do these things and these are my training or support needs I've got. And that's a different language. So we have to change the language. I think really do.


0:25:52.7 Theo Smith: So on that basis, like do we think that companies really are starting to consider this properly in some kind of meaningful way now? Are we starting to see changes within organizational structures and processes and systems?


0:26:09.9 Amanda Kirby: Yeah, I think we are to an extent. I am an eternal optimist. So I think, you know, we're doing this today. This is brilliant, isn't it? We wouldn't have done this two or three years ago. I'm seeing awareness raising in organizations, some big organizations, however, many people are small and medium enterprises. They're small organizations. I don't think it's filtering down to smaller organizations very much because it's harder perhaps to do that. So I think there is awareness, but we've gotta be careful that people are not doing this year's thing. So it's neurodiversity this year and it's gender next year, you know, done... We've done because that's not where we're going. We have to build this into business as usual. That your recruitment strategies, your onboarding strategies, just part of having inclusive processes, you don't even need to think about it. It's in the fabric of what everything you do. Now, what's happened, I think we've done a little bit of an autism hiring program, a dyslexia hiring program. And I'm concerned about that in some ways, although it can be great for some people, but you have to have a diagnosis. What happens if you're not quite autistic enough to get a diagnosis of autism, but you've got a diagnosis of ADHD, Can you get on the hiring program? Is there one for you?


0:27:21.2 Amanda Kirby: So is that going to be an inclusive lasting process? It may help a few. I don't think it's going to get out to the many. So I think we have to move from awareness to action and we've really gotta have universal design. We need inclusive processes that say, let's just imagine because it is true, 20% of people at least are going to be neurodivergent or neurodiverse, whichever framing you want. So we've gotta make sure we don't lose that talent. What business would throw away 20% of potential talent. And that changes the framework. We go wow, we got a talent shortage, These are people who are going to be in the workplace and really good at some of the jobs that we want. And then you start designing things to say, okay, let's imagine that some people won't be able to use IT. Let's imagine that some people might find it hard to do a CV, and let's try and look at the jobs they're going to be doing and align it to the jobs they want to do and test those skills. So it's changing how we're gonna do things. It really is. But great that we can and great, we're talking about it.


0:28:30.9 Theo Smith: Brilliant. And I think one of the things that I've noticed now is that organizations are struggling so much for particular groups of talent, right? That they're having to look at this, they're having to go... Well actually, we've lost all idea of how we're gonna encourage people into these roles. So we've gotta look at all different types of approaches and programs and that gives us a window of opportunity, I think, where... If we can get organizations to focus on it with a positive mindset, strength based.


0:29:03.8 Amanda Kirby: Yeah.


0:29:04.2 Theo Smith: And to see that actually you've got incredible people who otherwise perhaps have been struggling for work. I mean, the amount of people I get contacting me, going, my son or daughter has recently come out of university with a first class degree. They've gone on and got a masters or whatever it is and whatever other qualifications I didn't get, right? They've got it all. They've got all these qualifications and then they're saying but Theo, they can't get past the grad program.


0:29:31.0 Amanda Kirby: Yeah. I know.


0:29:31.6 Theo Smith: They cannot get into organizations to do these jobs, yet they have all the positive labels of qualifications that you could want. But, so this then creates this one opportunity because we then see where the blocker is, the problem. But two, until we start to remove the blocker, we're still not gonna... We're no matter what we... Even if organizations go, Yeah, we wanna hire more neurodiverse talent, but unless we move this little blocker, we're just not gonna get them. Right?


0:30:03.7 Amanda Kirby: No, we're not. And I think we've gotta recognize that not everybody has an active parent to check your CV, to help you with your application form, to look for jobs. Not everybody knows how to use applicant tracking systems and knows how to work them and be able to complete things online. So we've gotta recognize that the systems, we have to have a variety of systems to attract people and that not everybody knows the pathway to get into jobs. You know, so I had somebody the other day who the organization was throwing away CVs of people with spelling errors. Now, what talent have you just lost? And the job didn't require, you could use a spell checker. So it didn't matter. So why are you scoring somebody on bad spelling when actually, it really makes no different to the job they're going to do. So we've gotta change our sort of mindset, which is, what am I recruiting for? Don't start doing interviews on communication skills when they're not even important.


0:31:01.4 Amanda Kirby: You might have somebody who's an amazing researcher, who's got time to reflect and kind of with the answers to the all the problems of the world, right? Why do we want them to answer quickly? We don't. We want them to be thoughtful, not thoughtless. So give them time to see if they come up with some solutions. If you choose a route that tests something they're never going to need, you're gonna get somebody who can do that but can't do the job. And I think, you know, we recognize it costs a lot to recruit people. Why would you lose the talent that's out there? You know? And just small tweaks can make such a big difference. And I, like you, I get calls every day from people who have got amazing qualifications but can't get to the interview or have had loads of bad interview experiences, which drives anxiety. Then they go to the next one and they're even more anxious. So it's just gonna like standing back and saying, How do we open the doors? What do we do?


0:31:58.6 Theo Smith: Brilliant. Thank you. And I think, yeah, there's something around as well, Amanda, and I'd like to hear your thoughts about this, about the employee resource groups because for some organizations, they've kind of locked neurodiversity out as kind of not important enough or I don't know, like, it needs to go under disability, but disability by a category in itself is almost smaller than neurodiversity as a category depending on how you define it. So then it's like, okay, where does people within that community then have a voice, if they're locked into a subset of another category. Do you know what I mean?


[overlapping conversation]


0:32:40.8 Amanda Kirby: I agree. Well, in our book Neurodiversity at Work, we've got lots of things around that that tell you about ERGs, tell you about other parts of the recruitment, the onboarding and the supporting process. So Neurodiversity at Work by Theo and I is a good book to read 'cause you can find out all about that. What we don't want is to separate people out into smaller and smaller groups, 'cause actually, we want to have that conversation amongst managers, amongst people who are experiencing, think parents, leaders that there is psychologically safe to do so. And that's not about small groups, that's about, because we all come from lots of different experiences and backgrounds that we can share. We want to share what we've got in common as well as what is different as well.


0:33:28.2 Theo Smith: Brilliant. And so that's fascinating. I've been thinking about this quite a bit. So effectively ERGs, right? Employee resource groups will have neurodiverse people on every different aspect of that group anyway. So just empowers people to have that conversation and that's where people can bring, I guess their whole selves to work. They can bring their whole selves to work in a safe environment at a point of where it's right and ready because you don't wanna see the whole of me all the time. That's all I'm gonna say right now.


0:34:02.1 Amanda Kirby: Definitely not.


0:34:03.0 Theo Smith: Now, we're gonna head into break and we'll see you again shortly.




0:34:10.7 Theo Smith: Welcome back. You don't want this to end, neither do we. Right? But it has to end at some point. So we're into the final furlong, the final bit of this Crazy And The King takeover. So Amanda...


0:34:20.9 Amanda Kirby: What's a furlong?


0:34:21.4 Theo Smith: I don't know, [laughter]


0:34:21.8 Amanda Kirby: Longer than a foot and less than a meter maybe. I don't know.


0:34:29.5 Theo Smith: Yeah, yeah. I don't know. A horse. It's something a horse races, a length that a horse would race against, right? I don't know. I just say these things. Brilliant. There's stuff in there I've never understood, but it's still in there. And every now and again, it peeks its little head out [laughter] So there's a good example. So Amanda, any key points you'd just like to highlight from what we've said so far today that you just like to pick up and remind the listeners of?


0:34:56.4 Amanda Kirby: Yeah, so I think what's really important, language is important. The words we use and how we use it to be respectful. And often, we don't have a conversation 'cause we're worried about getting it wrong, but no conversation is no good either. So actually, if you're respectful and you're curious and you ask somebody about themselves, and tell me more about yourself and your experience, that means we understand the individual, the person in the context of their lives and their experiences. And we don't make assumptions. So we gotta move away from saying people with look like this. I heard somebody was had was autistic. They're like this. So we mustn't make assumptions. So in society, we see people who've got all sorts of talents, but also have challenges and they'll vary throughout their lives. So I really think language is important, but don't not have the conversation because you're worried about getting it wrong. If you're respectful, you will get on okay. Nobody minds if you stumble a bit, as long as you're open to say, I don't know, tell me more. You can't go too wrong for that.


0:36:08.5 Theo Smith: Excellent. Thank you. And just something I'd like to pick up on is that representation matters, right? And the problem is, often we have representation that does not represent us, right? We have people who have put people on the news or the way they write about fictional people. It is not representative of real life. And I'd say that matters, right? So we need to make sure that we educate ourselves and we know what it is we are looking at and we are reading and we're understanding, don't take Google, Wikipedia or TikTok or whatever as this single point of reference for anything...


0:36:43.8 Amanda Kirby: But it also moves on to females that we've been talking about today, which is, in the past, we viewed this stuff through a male lens of this is what males look like. So again, it goes, don't make assumptions. Find out, because people's experiences of getting a diagnosis, not getting a diagnosis, a pathway to help and support their experiences in work or in school will vary hugely. And we've gotta respect that somebody's personal experiences is true and real, and that's really important. And females are only just starting to tell what it's been like and understanding that, and we've gotta listen, we really do.


0:37:21.3 Theo Smith: Brilliant transition could not be better into her voice segment, and true to Crazy And The King style, we are living and breathing it. So we are amplifying women making moves in the world. And first of all, I wanna tell you something, I cannot remember names, I struggle with names and I struggle to pronounce them, so I'm probably gonna get this wrong. Ugh. Which is bad, but it's me, right? And I can't remember my kids' birthdays and dates and all kinds of stuff like that.


0:37:52.5 Amanda Kirby: Neither can I.


0:37:53.3 Theo Smith: Understand the struggle that I'm going through. But first of all, right, Estelle Brachlianoff. I've got that wrong, but I'm Welsh, right? I'm sure she'll forgive me because she's doing okay. Right? The reason why we're shouting Estelle out is because she's become the chief executive officer of Veolia, right? And Veolia is a very important organization globally. It's the world's leading environmental services company, right? So has a female CEO and not only that, her background is very much focused around sustainability. And she was the previous special advisor to the French Ministry of Infrastructure. So...


0:38:33.0 Amanda Kirby: Amazing.


0:38:33.8 Theo Smith: Who knows what she's doing, hopefully.


0:38:37.1 Amanda Kirby: Oh, amazing.


0:38:39.1 Theo Smith: So we wanna shout that out because that is a key role. That's a woman taking a key role in an organization that has power around the future of this planet.


0:38:51.1 Amanda Kirby: Fantastic.


0:38:52.0 Theo Smith: So take that [laughter] and secondly, there's been a recent appointment, Monica Gill, she's taken a director's role at Nike board of directors. And she's massively respected by peers. Now, the things that are said by her is a commitment and dedication to excellence, but also a commitment to community and a professional drive. She's an absolute inspiration based on those people who've worked with her and they say she's a fierce supporter for Latinas and supporting their growing careers. So that's a big appointment by Nike. And a great role for her in a key director's role.


0:39:42.5 Amanda Kirby: Brilliant. Great to see.


0:39:44.1 Amanda Kirby: Clothing organizations in the world. That's good. Finally, I wanted to do a curveball, which is Emma, [laughter] Emma Stones. She's not gonna be pleased with that either and made me get an A mum. [laughter] She's chief executive of Young Enterprise, Scotland, then you're gonna be going, Young Enterprise, Scotland, is the reason why I mentioned it. Because when I was at school, they wouldn't let me do the young enterprise, they kept me out. Right? I wasn't good enough.


0:40:13.2 Amanda Kirby: No, I can't believe it.


0:40:14.7 Amanda Kirby: They would let me do it. Well, I was at the back of the class, I stopped showing up, they wanted me to be the tambourine player or whatever. If you know what I mean. As it turned out when I left school, I went to college, and I did young enterprise awards at college, and I won Business Manager of the Year, and I was in the newspapers, and I won.


0:40:32.6 Amanda Kirby: Well done.


0:40:33.9 Theo Smith: Right? So Young Enterprise holds a special place in my heart, and it's good to see a female CEO of Your Enterprise, Scotland. But this is important, right? Female leaders in key roles that are driving positive change and transformation in this world, both at a local level of young people in school and in colleges, right through to environmental services around the future of this planet.


0:41:03.0 Amanda Kirby: No, really important. We need to see people. Young women need to see women in leadership roles across all areas of their lives to go, "That's possible for me."


0:41:13.9 Theo Smith: Yeah, and that's been a theme today, I think, Amanda, which is an important one, it's where I come from, in terms of my the, reason for me doing this was like, I'm getting to a stage in my life where I think F it, Right? It doesn't matter. I like to... What will be will be, but when I look at my nine-year-old daughter, that, you know...


0:41:35.3 Amanda Kirby: We've got to prepare a better world.


0:41:37.1 Theo Smith: Exactly. Exactly. And all women of this world who currently have been underrepresented, have not had the support, not had the recognition, not have the guidance. Today, this is for you, right? This is for you, Some recognition and appreciation for where the world needs to go and how it needs to change. So we're just gonna drop into disability, Twitter. So this is an area where we highlight tweets that matter, right? So there's just two that I'm going to pull out here, based on time, ADHD Babes, is the first one. And the reason why I'm highlighting ADHD Babes is for a very simple quote where Black Morticia said, "We appreciate you babes." And effectively. ADHD Babes are a support group for Black women and Black nonbinary people with ADHD. No clinical diagnosis required. And it's @ADHDBabes on Twitter, go follow them. It's led by Black women, for Black women, Black nonbinary people with ADHD, which is really important.


0:42:58.1 Theo Smith: If you think about the lack of representation for women with ADHD. Wow, let's just think around the complexity if we start to look at other diverse communities. So finally, Taverns, I wanted to call this out, because he says, "The ADHD, I have loads of time. Pipeline." He's creating tons of content on TikTok, it's @getonworks. All different social channels. He's taking a fun look interesting look at just a writer, somebody who's focused on trans rights. And just a neurodiversity advocate that I think deserves people's views.


0:43:46.3 Amanda Kirby: Great. Brilliant, good. So and also,  what's your social handle there for everybody to follow you?


0:43:53.8 Theo Smith: @TheoSmithUK. Wow, that was a challenge. I use it for everything 'cause you know, like, otherwise I'd forget it.


0:44:03.7 Amanda Kirby: And mine's @ProfAmandaKirby 'cause I am a prof, I haven't made it up. The CV is up to date. So @ProfAmandaKirby, and our book Neurodiversity at Work, go out and find it. It's really practical, tells you lots of stories as well, and helps people who are trying to ensure we have a neuro-inclusive workspace and places globally.


0:44:27.6 Theo Smith: Incredible. Go get it, come follow us. Thank you for joining us. This has been a Crazy And The King takeover.

Professor Amanda Kirby MBBS MRCGP PhDProfile Photo

Professor Amanda Kirby MBBS MRCGP PhD


Amanda is the founder and CEO of Do-IT Solutions, a tech for good company that provides tools, training and consultancy in the area of neurodiversity and wellbeing

Amanda is an emeritus professor at the University of South Wales and an honorary professor at Cardiff University. She has clinical and research experience and founded and ran a transdisciplinary clinical and research team for 20 years relating to neurodiversity. She is a qualified GP and has a Ph.D. relating to emerging adulthood and neurodiversity.

Amanda has been on government advisory boards (e.g., Hidden Impairment National Group) as well as advising UK and international charities in the field of neurodiversity. This includes being a patron of the Dyspraxia Association in New Zealand, and Chair of Movement Matters UK. She is also the current chair of the ADHD Foundation and works closely with many other charities working in this area

She has written 9 books and more than 100 research papers in the field and her latest book published in 2021:'Neurodiversity at Work, Drive Innovation, Performance and Productivity with a Neurodiverse Workforce' has won the Business Book Awards 2022 for EDI.

Amanda has a new book on Neurodiversity in Education coming out in first quarter of 2023.

Raising standards are important to Amanda and Do-IT Solutions were the first company in Wales to gain Disability Confident Leader status. She has delivered more than 23 webinars with DWP to raise awareness of neurodiversity, disability and Disability Confident campaign,

Amanda has lived experience of neurodiversity first hand, as she sees herself as neurodivergent as well as being a parent of neurodivergent children, and grandchildren. Amanda’s passion to make changes in society and increase the chances of showcasing talents for neurodivergent children and adults especially in work settings remains as strong as it was 30 years ago.

Theo SmithProfile Photo

Theo Smith


I’m a leading Neurodiversity advocate, founder of Neurodiversity at Work Ltd, Neurodiversity Evangelist at Dynamis Group, author of the award winning book ‘Neurodiversity at Work: Drive Innovation, Performance and Productivity with a Neurodiverse Workforce’ and podcast host of Neurodiversity – Eliminating Kryptonite & Enabling Superheroes!

Once upon a time I was a professional actor, then a leading expert in the field of recruitment. I now use my thespian skills to entertain my daughter and son and to inspire organisations and the world to the idea that neurodiversity is the future of work and beyond.

I'm on a mission to remove the barriers to employment for over 1 billion Neurodiverse talent,
empowering innovation and transformation in business and the world.