Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. Its purpose is to help the world to understand, value and celebrate the talents of neurodiverse minds. With a mission to change the narrative, the aim of the week is to increase acceptance and understanding, provide education and celebrate neurodiversity.


Rosie’s Story

I am so excited that the world is starting to pay attention to neurodiversity! I am one of those folks who is only getting into learning about it this last 10 months, despite having been diagnosed as neurodiverse for 12 years. I now spend my spare time gobbling up anything I can about neurodiversity – podcasts, books, discussions, articles etc. The more I learn, the more hopeful I get.

I am hopeful because I am meeting other people who are just like me; I am hopeful because my LinkedIn posts resonate with people and they go out of their way to contact me just to drop in a thank you, or share their own stories; selfishly, I am hopeful that I have found a purpose outside of being a mum and my day job; but mostly, I am hopeful that the next generation will not have to go through the struggles mine are because every day there are more and more people opening up their eyes to the idea that being neurodiverse isn’t a bad thing!

I’ll start my story when I was 20. There is a lot more I could talk about before that, which includes a lot of being called “weird”, but they are stories for another day. In my second year of university, I got diagnosed as dyspraxic/dyslexic – “Great”, I thought, “I can use that to get some accommodations for my exams and then forget all about it forever.” So I went ahead and got my free software for my free laptop and extra time in exams, got my 2.1 in my Chemistry degree and put my diagnosis to the back of my mind. I was now in the real world, with real people and I had to be exactly the same as them.

I was still dyslexic/dyspraxic in the real world.

I became a primary school teacher and taught loads of children with special educational needs: a 10-year-old girl whose stories and paintings were mind bogglingly beautiful, but who was dyscalculic and couldn’t add 4 and 5; a little dyslexic boy, whose handwriting was all over the place, but his way of thinking made him the best scientist in the class. The fact that I think in a different way made me an amazing teacher – I could reach some of these kids in a way that some neurotypical teachers might not, and I was killing it. Unfortunately, I am not cut out for the intense 60-hour work week of teaching life, so after getting ill, I moved on to engineering. 

I went back to university to do a masters and I only revisited my diagnosis for that private exam room. I was still telling myself that I am super normal and not paying attention to the fact that I have a different brain that I should work with, rather than against. In one module I only just scraped through (my brain genuinely cannot remember more than about 3 instructions and computational fluid dynamics has about 40,000). Overall though, I managed to get the best result on my whole course; I now recognise this was due to my Spikey Profile shining through. A Spikey Profile basically means your brain is far above average at some things, and absolutely appalling at other things.

One of the things I was appalling at was driving. You need to remember wayyy more than 3 instructions just to get into second gear so I kept failing tests. I told myself that everyone can drive and I just had to keep doing what I had been doing and expect different results. After 10 failed tests over many years, I was ready to give up. “What is wrong with me?” I remember asking a lot. 

“Nothing is wrong with you, but you are dyspraxic remember,” my sister would tell me “Take a test in an automatic car.” Eventually I listened and passed first time! (Well, 11th overall, but who is counting?) After this, I started to accept that I am actually dyspraxic and I’m not just some fraud. And I was still getting from A to B in my car; the outcome was still the same. I just now have some space in my working memory to remind myself which way is right as I approach a roundabout because I’m not reminding myself what position I need to put the gear stick into.   

After that, I began to secretly accept being neurodiverse as part of my identity. I still told myself I could pretend to be “normal” and just use tricks to get round it. I went into the world of engineering, ready to excel. And in some places I absolutely have – you get a person who struggles to remember a sequence, they can design a wonderful “idiot proof” logistics system that makes sense and does not rely on memory. They can identify areas for human error everywhere and invent creative ways to solve them! However, you ask them to do a longwinded but pretty simple admin task, with a lot of steps, using multiple systems, you’re gonna have a bad time. 

Some time into one of my engineering positions, I was still struggling with a weekly admin task and a leader asked me, “Why are you still making mistakes with this?” So I finally plucked up the courage to tell someone at work the truth. I explained everything – that dyspraxic people have a smaller working memory than other groups of people and some of the sequences didn’t make sense to me. His response to my honesty? “You probably shouldn’t be in this team then”.

“You probably shouldn’t be in this team…” 

After years of trying and failing to be like everyone else, I had started to accept that I should just try to be like me. I had told all the people I knew cared for me that I am dyslexic/dyspraxic and everyone was loving and supportive. This was the first time telling someone who cared more about my results than my emotions and it did not go well. After nipping to the toilet for a little cry, I vowed to keep quiet about it in future, then I shrivelled into an unconfident version of my former self at work.  My creativity vanished. I had removed the “probably” from his words and was convinced I didn’t belong.

This feeling stayed with me for a long time and I never opened up to anyone at work again. I only really started to find myself again 10 months ago, once I had gone on maternity leave. Being somewhere I could belong again allowed me the space to reflect. I did a “coming out” post on LinkedIn and people actually messaged me to thank me and tell me their stories! It feels incredible to be part of this huge community I had been hiding myself away from. 

Now I have made myself two promises: 

  1. Once my maternity leave ends, I will disclose my neurodiversity at work formally.
  2. I will join the fight to help neurodiverse people in the workplace feel like they belong so that one day, no one has to go through what I did. 

I spent 12 years learning to accept my condition and I responded to it terribly on loads of occasions so I don’t blame that manager for his ignorance. Although maybe if he had understood it, rather than suggesting I didn’t belong, he could have harnessed my strengths rather than shattered my confidence. 

The key to change is education and acceptance and I’m so ready for it. We have so much to give!


You can connect with Rosie on LinkedIn here

On 11th May, Rosie will be joining 50:50 Future at The People & Culture Form Event – Inclusive Leadership & Neurodiversity. Rosie Brighty will be sharing her lived experience of being neuro-divergent exploring what that means and including some top tips on inclusive practices and ways to support from leadership positions, when it comes to neurodiversity specifically.

Register to join us on 11th May by clicking here.