The Power of Change: learning to live as a “weirdo” [talk notes]

This is a talk I gave at the Meetup Tester Gathering in Liverpool and Barcamp and Oggcamp in Manchester. I am giving a longer version at the Ministry of Testing meetup. Here you can find all the sources and resources I used to prepare it, mental health help, and the list of people who helped me.

Short version slides are on Slideshare.

Long version slides are on Slideshare

If you’d like to book me for your event, or you want to have a chat about what I can do for you, please drop me an email.

Facts and figures

15-20% of people are neurodivergent – cited in this HOK article.

Two-thirds of people with ADHD have co-occurring conditions – CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). Infographic on co-occurring conditions.

95% of children with autism also have at least one co-morbid (co-existing) condition, and over half have at least 4. Very serious academic article quoted in Spectrum News.

Autistics are 9 times more likely to die by suicide and autistic kids are 28 times more likely to think about or attempt suicide. Autistica

Total suicide figures (for comparison) can be found from the Samaritans.

Autistics are 5 or 7 times more likely to die by suicide in the US and Sweden, respectively. IAN community.

75% of autistics are bullied at school (this rises to 82% of high-functioning autistics) Anti-bullying alliance [pdf]. Rates of bullying for all kids can be found in this UK government report on bullying [pdf].

Black autistic kids are more likely to be diagnosed with an intellectual disability. Prevalence and Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children

Half of autistics suffer from depression (and it’s more common in clever autistics, whereas in the general population it’s more common amongst those with a lower IQ). Prevalence of Depressive Disorders in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Meta-Analysis

Unemployment [amongst neurodivergents] runs as high as 80% (this figure includes people with more severe disorders, who are not candidates for neurodiversity programmes). Harvard Business Review

Preliminary results suggest that Australia’s Department of Human Services’ neurodiverse testing teams are 30% more productive than the others. Harvard Business Review


Self-care map for you to download, print and fill in [PDF]

Care Labels for Humans

A range of worksheets that I have produced for my clients

Mental health help

If you need help with your mental health, your GP is a good place to start. They can refer you to both private and NHS services, plus with the NHS there is a good level of quality control. There are also these services:

Self Help Services (Manchester)

Talk Liverpool and The Live Well Directory (Liverpool)

If you want to go private, and are looking at CBT therapy (there’s a lot of evidence that it works), make sure your therapist is on The CBT Register.

If you want to try mindfulness (I have found it very helpful), make sure your teacher is registered with this organisation.

Special thanks to:

My amazing client Iris, who inspired the “labels” theme of this talk (name used with permission).

Thanks to:

Joe Coleman of, Ben Grubert of Inevitable and Gem Hill of InnerPod, all of whom helped me develop this talk.

Infosec Hoppers

Theo Smith of NICE

Siena Castellon for sourcing the bullying and suicide stats at my request.

Samantha Crowe of Make it Be PR

Rosemary Kay

Ellie Kortland of The Mindful Smile Company, who provided the links to the above registries.

Duncan Nisbet

Amy Newton

2 thoughts on “The Power of Change: learning to live as a “weirdo” [talk notes]

  1. Pete says:

    Rachel, thank you for your excellent presentation. I found it fascinating, insightful and fun. As someone who recognises that they are somewhere on the spectrum, I found the graphic illustrating the various traits really helpful. The part where you mentioned the Christmas card particularly resonated, because it put into context times in the past over similar – seemingly minor – situations and (despite realising that I shouldn’t dwell on them) couldn’t understand why I they had made me so upset. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Darryl Kennedy says:

    Thank you Rachel for delivering an amazing talk at the MOT event in Manchester on 11th February. Thoroughly engaging and a superb presentation style mixed with well-timed and well-chosen humor. If you get the chance to hear Rachel speak take the opportunity!

    Liked by 1 person

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