Our Team at NovaVapes
- NovaVapes is a naturally Neurodiverse workplace – championing for equality
- Equality and Neurodiversity are important to us. Affects many of us personally
- Taking an opportunity to share our experience and hopefully inspire others
We’re a small team of 7, from contractors to staff, we aren’t a very big company. What we are, is a group of uniquely talented individuals with a broad range of skills which have been invaluable to our success. We’re a solid team – but half us also have Neurodevelopmental Disorders, yet you see the result when we produce our fantastic and affordable UK eliquids.
Neurodevelopmental Disorders are often misunderstood. Some believe these are simply childhood conditions and you can grow out of them. Not only is this not true, but it’s harmful to the many adults who struggle every day with a Neurodevelopmental Disorder.
What is Neurodiversity and Neurodiversity Celebration Week?
Neurodiversity simply means there is more than one kind of human brain. In fact, there’s quite a lot of them. It’s the view that there is no ‘normal’ brain and these variations are just that; variations. It includes labels such as: Autism, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, Dyslexia, etc.
Neurodiversity Celebration Week was founded by Siena Castellon, a young woman with learning differences who wants to change the current view of what it means to have Special Education Needs and help schools & work to be more inclusive. By getting involved, we also hope to help encourage people with these conditions to recognise their natural talents.
“When 99 neurologically identical people fail to solve a problem, it’s often the 1% fellow who’s different who holds the key.” – John Elder Robison
NovaVapes and Neurodiversity
We are in a world which is built for the Neurotypical. This isn’t a bad word, or even bad at all. Neurotypical simply means ‘somebody without a Neurodevelopmental Disorder’. Somebody who would be considered ‘normal’ by society’s standards.
Within the NovaVapes workforce, we have 2 members with Autism, one of which also has ADHD and a Director who also has ADHD. Unfortunately in today’s world, these labels are often seen as a weakness. That people with these conditions are less capable than a neurotypical person. Special Education Needs and the many disabilities included, are widely misunderstood and have many harmful stereotypes attached to them. Like having this disability means the person cannot function, cannot decide or cannot enjoy personhood.
This is so fundamentally wrong.
In fact what you find is a person, when nurtured in the right environment, can flourish as an asset. When given the right support and treatment, they can provide a unique insight and skill set which is often overlooked and missed.
Now to be clear, this is not the case for all Neurodivergent people or necessarily due to the condition. Not all autistic people are Savant’s, just as some people will have more severe levels of dysfunction and do require different treatment.
Why Neurodiversity Week is Important
It’s simple, really. Although there’s a sea of knowledge out there, there’s too much noise. Currently, things aren’t in great shape for people who are a little different.
- The Office of National Statistics published new data that shows just 22% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment.
- One study in the US found that in general, fewer people with ADHD are employed than those without.
- The Office of National Statistics reported disabled people are 28.6% less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people
Is there any wonder why so many people with Special Education Needs feel so lost and frustrated? Many are struggling in both education and in work because they’re so misunderstood and are forced into an environment which isn’t suitable.
Which is why we feel it’s important to take this week to share our experience and guide our thoughts towards the small changes that can be made and encourage a shift towards a more inclusive world.
Perspective – As an Employer
Achieving such a diverse workforce didn’t happen on purpose. Due to the fast paced nature of the industry and the unique problems which we often face, we look for people with outside-the-box thinking when we add to our team.
Naturally, the team built up to include Neurodiverse people. Once time was taken to fully understand how we can support them, along with any adjustments we can make to help them feel more comfortable, we were able utilise their full range of skills.
Personal Perspective – Rob
I started NovaVapes in 2015, initially I was a sole trader doing my thing with flavours. I was completely fixated over how this all works. The thing is, with ADHD there’s a unique reward system in play. You don’t function based on things like urgency, money, consequence, etc your drive ends up coming from interest, challenge and niche. Although this in reality is an executive dysfunction.
I was fortunate enough to craft an environment around myself which allowed the flexibility I needed and the challenging stimulations I craved by building a company, which presents new challenges and more importantly, a variance on things I can turn my hand to. Seeing the benefit it brought to me I know I could benefit others.
It isn’t all hunky-dorey though, I didn’t receive a diagnosis until I was an adult. Looking back, I didn’t hit the stereotype expected at the time. I was just… different. Thankfully, nowadays it is more fully understood, and thanks to things like the Neurodiversity Movement, the works of professionals doing research and driving the message it became incredibly apparent.
However, the message isn’t all there. Discrimination is rife in the professional world. I am 27 years old and run a company, people are usually impressed by that, they see a young go-getter and are warm, welcoming and nurture it. They give advice, contacts, networks, etc.
The second ADHD is mentioned, suddenly my capacity to do my work gets called into question. My ability, what they were impressed by previously, is suddenly up for discussion. I dont think its fair that this can happen as openly as it does, it’s not something you think about really and just take it on the chin. But I always reflect and think ‘If it wasn’t me, who else would it be?’. That right there is the reason why I think we should talk about it more, and call it out when we see it.
So neurodiversity is an important part of my identity, because it shows not only what can be achieved despite a disability, but also helping others realise the untapped potential in people who are just a bit different.
Personal Perspective – Nicholas
School was especially challenging; it is even without a neurodiverse condition. So much pressure rests on us as teenagers – the expectations from school and family, figuring out who we are, how to navigate the world and all of its complexities, along with seemingly important decisions which will determine our entire future and working life – we were so naive. Adding undiagnosed Autism and ADHD to the mix gives a unique flavour to these challenges.
Growing up, I had no idea what autism was, let alone that I was autistic. I knew I was different from the other kids but I didn’t know why, so I did what every school kid does… I tried to fit in. Masking allowed me to watch what other people were doing so I could mimic and try to behave like them; the nuances to social interactions that I didn’t understand.
I still don’t.
It was only when I left college that I decided to drop the mask and be be myself – rather than pushing against my natural phobias and displeasures. Quite quickly, people started suggesting that “I wasn’t quite right” and I may have autism. I was curious and decided to look into it. I finally received a diagnosis when I was 21 years old and I was immediately equipped with the tools I needed to better understand and communicate why I function so differently.
Adulthood and the professional world has presented just as many challenges as school. It seems people expect me to be less capable when they learn that I’m on the spectrum. I often receive remarks such as “you don’t look autistic”. But what does autism look like?
It has been very clear the world isn’t built for people like me. Lack of education surrounding neurodiversity along with anachronistic information being spread means many people have poor preconceived ideas about what autism is. Heck, I don’t even know enough. Our understanding of these conditions is always evolving. Apparently, we’re not all like Rain Man.
Since learning more about the autism spectrum and finding ways to manage it’s unique challenges, I also learned the things which once made me feel so alien are actually very common. That instead of masking which stunted me, I should own who I am. Nurturing the differences and allowing myself to excel in the areas where I’m a naturally better fit.
We’re wired differently. Just like everyone, we have our strengths and weaknesses. I may struggle to look at your eyes when talking to you, and I’m terrible at reading body language. But I excel in understanding complex ideas and problems, and I will talk your ears off about Marine Biology – especially Octopuses!
I was fortunate enough to be able to understand and communicate how my condition affects me. It’s important to me that I help people to better understand what autism actually is, and do what I can to shatter the current, outdated perception that keeps spreading.
Neurodiversity Week is very special to us here at NovaVapes. We believe people can achieve anything under the right conditions, regardless of any neurodevelopmental disorder. Nurturing these conditions will help being out the best in people, and you end up with a resilient person who succeeds in spite of their perceived disability. If you want to try some of our fantastic UK vape juice manufactured by our fantastic team, please check them out on our website!
Find out more about Neurodiversity Celebration Week: https://www.neurodiversity-celebration-week.com/