Blog Post

AI and Me: Navigating Neurodiversity and Technology’s New Frontier

By Krista Lindsey
April 1, 2024
Topics AI, Neurodiversity

Many of my colleagues are aware that I was diagnosed with ADHD during my initial days as an evening law student, a period that coincided with the rise of generative AI into the mainstream. Fascinated by the parallels between navigating my diagnosis and the advent of this groundbreaking technology, I quickly immersed myself in the world of generative AI. Today, as a marketer, a student, and a Millennial navigating the nuances of “adulting,” I find generative AI integrated into nearly every aspect of my daily life. But before we explore further and discuss the transformative impact of generative AI, let’s take a moment to understand what generative AI truly is, and what better way to do so than by interviewing ChatGPT 4.0.

Krista Lindsey [KL]: Is it okay if I interview you for a blog I am working on? If so, what can I call you?

ChatGPT [CG]: Of course, I’d be happy to help with your interview for the blog! You can refer to me simply as ChatGPT, your AI collaborator. What do you want to talk about?

[KL]: Thank you! Can you explain in plain language what generative AI is for our audience?

[CG]: Absolutely! Imagine you have a really smart assistant who’s not just good at answering questions but can also create new things—like writing a story, drawing a picture, or even composing music. Generative AI is like that assistant. It’s a type of artificial intelligence that can generate new content, something that didn’t exist before, after learning from a lot of examples.

For instance, if you’ve seen beautiful artwork or read an article that was created by AI, that’s generative AI at work. It learns from lots of data—like thousands of paintings or countless books—and then it can create something on its own that feels new and original. So, in simple terms, generative AI is a tool that helps create new things based on what it has learned from existing information.

[KL]: Thank you for setting that foundation. Do you believe that gen AI can be beneficial to those who are neurodivergent?

[CG]: Absolutely, generative AI holds significant potential benefits for individuals who are neurodivergent. Neurodivergent people, including those with ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and other neurocognitive variations, often have unique learning styles, communication preferences, and ways of interacting with the world. Generative AI can be tailored to support these diverse needs in several impactful ways:

  1. Customized Learning: Tailors educational content to learning styles
  2. Assistive Tools: Aids in writing, organizing, and communicating
  3. Social Interaction: Enhances social skills through virtual practice
  4. Sensory Processing: Adjusts digital environments for sensory needs
  5. Routine and Organization: Designs personalized schedules and reminders
  6. Employment and Creativity: Supports creativity and automates routine tasks

Harnessing AI for Neurodiversity: Practical Prompts for Professional Success

In the enlightening article “AI, Generative Production, & Accessibility,” authors Melissa A. Clark and Melanie E. Gagich explore the use of AI and generative production by students with various neurotypes. A standout feature of this piece is the showcase of diverse sample prompts and the outputs generated by ChatGPT, tailored for students. Building on this innovative approach and continuing my interview with gen AI, here are several prompts designed to assist professionals in advancing their projects.

[KL]:  Pretend you’re supporting neurodivergent employees in their daily work tasks. What are some sample prompts that tailor assistance to accommodate the unique needs associated with various aspects of neurodiversity?

ChatGPT 4.0 Response:

For Employees with ADHD:

  1. “Can you suggest a tool that breaks my projects into smaller, actionable tasks and reminds me of deadlines?”
  2. “What’s the best way to minimize distractions in my digital workspace?”
  3. “How can I effectively prioritize my tasks when everything feels urgent?”

For Autistic Employees:

  1. “How can I create a predictable work schedule that accommodates unexpected tasks or changes?”
  2. “What tools can help me manage sensory overload while working?”
  3. “How can I leverage technology to streamline team collaboration in a way that aligns with my communication strengths?”

For Dyslexic Employees:

  1. “What are the best tools for converting text to speech or for helping with reading and writing tasks?”
  2. “How can I organize digital files for easy retrieval when text labels are challenging?”
  3. “Can you provide tips for making detailed reports or presentations more manageable?”

For Employees with Dyspraxia:

  1. “What strategies can help me organize my physical and digital workspace for efficiency?”
  2. “How can I use technology to streamline tasks that require fine motor skills?”
  3. “What’s the best way to plan my day to accommodate physical movement and rest?”

For Employees with Social Anxiety:

  1. “What are the most effective ways to prepare for meetings or presentations to reduce anxiety?”
  2. “How can I set boundaries in digital communication to manage my workload and social interactions?”
  3. “Can you recommend tools that facilitate asynchronous communication with my team?”

For Employees with Sensory Processing Sensitivities:

  1. “What are the best noise-canceling tools or apps to use in an open office or public setting?”
  2. “How can I adjust my virtual meeting setup to reduce sensory overload?”
  3. “What workspace adjustments can reduce the impact of harsh lighting or screen glare?”

Navigating Generative AI Bias

In the exploration of generative AI and its intersection with neurodiversity, the challenge of bias within AI systems emerges as a critical concern. Even within this article, I have adjusted some of ChatGPT’s responses to eliminate dialogue that does not align with Seramount’s inclusive language principles. Insights from the article “Shedding light on AI bias with real world examples” by the IBM Data and AI Team highlight the complexity of this issue. Biases, embedded in data and algorithms, can amplify negative outcomes, particularly affecting neurodivergent individuals who may face misrepresentation or exclusion in AI-generated content. This underscores the necessity for ethical AI development that actively includes and values diverse cognitive profiles, ensuring that AI supports rather than sidelines neurodivergent individuals.

To navigate and mitigate these biases, robust AI governance focused on compliance, transparency, and fairness is paramount. Drawing on IBM’s advocacy for ethical AI practices, including thorough evaluation processes and secure deployment, it becomes evident that generative AI must be developed with a deep understanding of and commitment to inclusivity. By adopting such an approach, we can guide generative AI toward being a force for positive change, fostering an environment where technology celebrates and amplifies the richness of human diversity, making the digital realm accessible and empowering for everyone.

Interested In Learning More?

Generative AI is just one of the many subjects that can affect neurodivergent folks in the workplace, and we recognize that. With a commitment to fostering inclusivity and understanding, we have consistently organized events tailored to address these crucial issues. Leading these initiatives is Jess Kramer, our Associate Director of Events Programming, who has been instrumental in bringing insightful discussions on neurodiversity to the forefront. Our April 9 Member Webinar on neurodiversity promises to keep the discussion going.

What will this program entail? We’re excited to feature an enlightening keynote by Haley Moss, a renowned neurodiversity expert, attorney, advocate, thought leader, and author. Haley’s presentation will highlight the value of neurodiversity in the workplace, offer practical advice on navigating common challenges in the job-seeking process, and provide guidance on supporting neurodivergent individuals through disclosure and accommodations. Additionally, attendees will gain insights into encouraging open communication for successful employment and an introduction to universal design principles. This event will also include sessions that communicate the success of Goldman Sachs Neurodiversity Hiring Initiative and KPMG will showcase their inclusive neurodivergent training models.

All our Diversity Best Practice partners are invited to register. If you’re not yet a partner, this is the perfect time to join us on this important journey.

About the Author

Krista Lindsey
Krista Lindsey
Associate Director, Product Marketing