Autism, ADHD and gorillas in the workplace

Updated: 4 days ago

I have four sons between ages nine and fourteen. My house is very loud and very smelly.

Our amazing boys are a veritable smorgasbord of neurodiversity. In the mix we have ASD, ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome and OCD as the main actors. As is often the case with ND stories, there are a host of minor actors on the stage too, but the diagnoses mentioned are the headliners that most shape life and routine in our little home.

A quick note for those who haven’t come across the term neurodiversity before. The word popped up mostly in the online autism community in the 1990’s. It has now spread quite widely on and off-line. The neurodiversity movement is basically about understanding that neuronal variances such as autism are not defects or illnesses to be fixed and cured. Rather they are a part of natural variation in brain structures and development that exists within any human population.

There are many things that I struggle to understand about my sons. Little things like why they can’t hang a towel up and why memes are a thing, but big things too.

They all have a strength of character that utterly befuddles me. Every day I see them work harder than most of us will need to in a life-time just to understand their way in the world. It must be utterly exhausting. I remember how awkward and fearful I was as a teenager, how alone I felt at times and how angry it made me. Yet every day they face a barrage of challenges that I readily admit to scarcely even being able to fully come to terms with. Yet somehow, they remain gentle and kind. I am baffled at how much courage can exist in the fibre of something that seems so fragile. I know that sons should look up to their fathers and I’m sure they do, but the truth is that I admire them all enormously.

Anyhow, the title of this blog promised you gorillas, not just sappy dad stuff. I must offer a “spoiler alert” here. I’m about to ruin a great little learning tool for you, in fact I probably already have just with the title. Some of you will be familiar with “The Invisible Gorilla”, a world-famous lesson in selective awareness by Daniel Simmons and Christopher Chabris. A quick google search will pull up the video if you’d like to check it out.

Many years ago, a much