Search This Blog

Saturday, 19 March 2022

Time to change the understanding about Neurodiversity amongst medical professionals

The March 2022 issue of "The Psychologist" magazine featured a BRILLIANT article entitled "Neurodiversity is not just for those we work with".

It was written by British Psychologist Joshua Muggleton (who is Autistic) and 33 other Neurodivergent (people with Neurodiverse conditions) colleagues, who drew attention to the negative affect that ineptitude can have on both professionals and patients.

Muggleton et al gave examples of how they'd been poorly treated by some colleagues upon discovering that they were Neurodivergent, and how it had affected their own mental health.   

I suspect this may perhaps be the first time (to my knowledge) that Neurodivergent medical professionals in the UK have aired their views so publicly directly to colleagues within their own profession, as the magazine is published by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

I wholeheartedly applaud and support Muggleton and the other authors of the article for "unmasking" themselves publicly, and diplomatically and unpretentiously laying down the gauntlet for the BPS to transform its attitude towards Neurodiversity in general.

Because many people with hidden disabilities encounter these types of issues - for some it can be easier (and require less energy) to mask who we are than be honest and transparent with our employer...

Regular followers of Rainbow Red (my company) and the Hoarding Icebreaker Form (that I created) will know that I’ve said on numerous occasions how I’ve come across many people with Executive Dysfunction who have issues related to clutter, disorganisation and hoarding behaviours who have been let down or abused by professionals - not just psychologists, and not just medical professionals.

Even now, in the 21st century, far too many of the most vulnerable members of our society are still being abused by or allowed to slip through "the system".  

Some may be diagnosed with (and potentially prescribed medication and/or therapy for) mental health conditions they don't actually have - most commonly the one with possibly the worst name:  Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), also knowns as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Whereas conditions such as Autism and/or ADHD (co-morbidity is common) are far more likely to have explained the underlying root causes of a person's anxiety, and often some of the surprising - and what some might say are irrational - lifestyle choices they may have made along the way.  

Individuals with hidden disabilities are unfortunately vulnerable to abuse, manipulation and exploitation, and serious mis-treatment and/or abuse by (so-called) professionals happens far too frequently.

Some (like me) may not be granted shared care by their GP once they've receive a private diagnosis (because it wasn't done by the NHS), and end up paying hundreds of pounds a year for prescription medication whilst waiting years for an NHS diagnosis because of the ever-increasing waiting lists.  

Tragically, some might be victims of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or other traumas.  How many exactly we will probably never know.  Nor will we ever know how many went undiagnosed or felt so violated, unsupported, and broken that they chose to end their misery by taking their own lives.

In the case of Joshua and his Neurodiverse colleagues , had all medical professionals (not just psychologists) received more in-depth training about impaired Executive Functioning and Neurodevelopmental conditions (which now includes Long COVID), there would have been:

  • a far greater chance of them being diagnosed, treated and receiving appropriate support and reasonable adjustments/ adaptations as children, instead of as adults
  • a reduced risk of being stigmatised and bullied (especially as children/teenagers), leading to low-esteem issues and having to try and mask their symptoms in order to fit in
  • a far greater chance of them being offered reasonable adjustments by their employers, and applauded by them (plus colleagues, employees and clients) for the special insight they have into the types of difficulties experienced by others with hidden disabilities
  • far greater likelihood that they'd develop a stronger connection with their Neurodiverse clients, and achieve quicker, longer lasting outcomes for them as a result

In most cases, professionals genuinely believe they are doing the right thing in order to improve a person’s quality of life.  

However, they – like everyone else – are restricted by the training they have received.  Training that is flawed, inadequate, out-dated or recommends obsolete best practices that don't take into consideration people the challenges associated with activities of daily living experienced by people with impaired Executive Functioning and Neurodiverse conditions, and are proven to have done more harm than good.  

All of which begs some fundamental questions for BPS and other medical bodies responsible for training future generations:

  • How long will it be before ALL professional medical bodies (not just the BPS) make in-depth customer-focused training  about Executive Functioning and Neurodiversity part of the core curriculum?
  • How long will it be before Neurodiverse individuals can feel confident that their health and care needs will be  met (promptly and appropriately) by legitimate law-abiding professionals who have a good understanding of Neurodiverse conditions and the types of reasonable adjustments required to accommodate individuals with hidden disabilities?
  • How long will it be before Neurodiversity is being discussed in the way that mental health is now, thanks to fantastic campaigns such as Time to Change and The Royal Foundation?  It took about 10 years for the Time to Change campaign to really make an impact, let's hope conversations about Neurodiversity are common-place a lot quicker than that....
  • How long will it be before ALL public and professional organisations (including schools, hospitals, solicitors, etc)  catch up with some of the most famous IT companies in the World and recognise that employing individuals with Neurodiverse conditions such as ADHD and Autism HAS to be part of their future if it's to be sustainable.
  • How long will it be before discussions about the potential need for reasonable adjustments become an integral part of an induction process for new staff?
    • How long will it be before hospitals, care homes and nursing homes revise their business models and strategies so that ALL medical and care facilities are specifically designed to meet the needs of our aging Neurodivergent population?
    • How long will it be before we see and hear media and social media coverage damning organisations that DON'T embrace Neurodiversity?

    THANK YOU Joshua et al for giving the BPS (and the World) an insight into what success could/should look like for Neurodivergent medical professionals.  

    Now is the time for the leadership and training teams at BPS and ALL the other professional bodies (not just medical ones) to stop avoiding the elephants in the room and:

    • accept that Neurodevelopmental conditions are not going away (they're genetic), and that making people with hidden disabilities fit in with out-dated broken processes and environments that are too overwhelming for them doesn't work - it makes things worse. 
    • make people like Muggleton et al and myself (ie. people with ADHD and/or Autism etc) part of the process of change.

    It's the common-sense, best-practice, customer-focused way to run a sustainable business.  

    So please BPS and other professional organisations responsible for training future generations - please take the hint that Muggleton et al have given you, and start re-training mental health professionals to become specialists in Neurodiverse conditions instead. 

    Start creating processes and environments that are Neurodivergent friendly, not Neurodiverse minefields.  

    An empowered workforce is generally more productive, more energised, more dedicated and healthier - all of which has a direct effect on the local communities around them, and the nation. 

    With staff needing less time off work due to less work-related stress, people will need fewer appointments with health professionals, and psychologists and other professionals who haven't embraced Neurodiversity will end up out of work!

    Let's watch this space with interest and see how long it takes.....

    Cherry Rudge is a Professional Hoarding Practitionertrainer, mentor, consultant, activist, campaigner and creator of the Hoarding Icebreaker Form.

    Her late father had hoarding behaviours, which is why she now specialises in working with people with hoarding behaviours and complex needs.

    She has been:

    For further information please contact Cherry Rudge - Phone/Text: 07931 303310 - Email:

    No comments:

    Post a Comment