Most of the time, when we think about autistic children, we worry if they will be able to function in a corporate and work atmosphere. Joining Jen Du Plessis on today’s show to dispel the misconceptions and incorrect stereotypes about autism and autistic people is Jude Morrow. Jude is an autistic author, social worker, motivational speaker, and advocate for all things autism and neurodiversity. Together, they tackle why companies shouldn’t shy away from hiring someone who’s autistic. Everyone, whether autistic or not, brings their own special talents to the table. We need to make sure that we’re exploring and exploiting all of those talents.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
Autism And Neurodiversity In The Workplace With Jude Morrow
I am so delighted to have our guest with us, Jude Morrow. I met him on Clubhouse. Here’s another Clubhouse podcast connection. I’m loving Clubhouse as long as I’m doing it strategically and not hurting myself by being swallowed in. Jude, welcome to the show. I’m happy to have you.
Thank you so much, Jen. I’m delighted to be here. It was lovely to meet you on Clubhouse. I’ve been so excited to continue our conversation off the app and I’m glad that we’ve met.
Me too. This is going to be about breaking through glass ceilings. There’s no question about it in this particular episode. Hang in with us. It’s interesting information and if you’re in business and we now know that we have multi-generations in our workforces. We’ve got five generations working all at the same time and never before we had this but wait until you learn about Jude because we also have a unique spectrum of individuals as well. We were filled with tons of different personalities.Being autistic is an identity. It’s an integral part of who a person is. Click To Tweet
What he talks about and what he is sharing and making an impact in the world is special. Jude is an autistic author, social worker, motivational speaker, and advocate for all things autism and neurodiversity, which I’ve never heard of. I can’t wait to understand what it is. Jude, is the author of the globally acclaimed, Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad? It was published by Beyond Words, which is the publisher of The Secret, which many of us have read. He’s toured groups locally and internationally to show that autistic people can grow to live happy and successful lives. This is his quote, “As someone who people spent their time trying to change, I see it as my turn now. Attitudes, perceptions, and prejudices need to change, not us.”
Jude, welcome to our show. This touches home because I have a couple of cousins who are autistic. One of the first things that people think about is children being autistic, not so much on the adult side. I know that you work with children and you also work on the adult side. When we think about autistic children, we worry if they are going to be able to function in a corporate atmosphere and the work atmosphere. That’s what we’re going to talk about because you’ve shown that success.
I know that there are misconceptions, incorrect stereotypes about autism and autistic people. I want to make sure that people that own companies, people that have companies don’t shy away from hiring someone who’s autistic. There’s a lot of special talents that everyone brings to the table and we need to make sure that we’re exploring and exploiting all of those talents. Tell us a little bit about your childhood and how you got to this point where you could take this situation that you have been given as a gift from God and taken out into the big bad world.
My story of growing up as an autistic child in a mainstream school, it’s nothing more fascinating, to be honest. I faced the same challenge as every autistic child faces now and has ever faced and the fact that I wasn’t accepted for who I was. I would have repeated things under my breath to learn to communicate more effectively. I don’t like sitting down on chairs for too long and working in groups. I was often told that I didn’t have the proper social skills or communication skills, whatever they are.
I grew up feeling much like a broken version of everybody else because if you’re autistic, the advice, “Be yourself,” doesn’t apply because being autistic in the scary world that we live in is not acceptable in the eyes of many people. There are a lot of businesses, individuals who seek to diagnose, treat, and care only. In my early adulthood, I became a social worker and a dad. I had to come to terms with being autistic in adulthood. I did, eventually, after a lot of hard work, reflection, and thought, and speaking with other people. I was looking after my mind and my mental health.
Whenever I became accepting of the fact that I was autistic, I read into it a little bit more. The vast majority of information out there is deficits based on what we can’t do rather than what we can do. Instead of being a Facebook keyboard warrior and challenging everybody, I decided to start my movement, which was Neurodiversity Training International. It’s become the world’s fastest–growing autistic-led movement for autism education, training, and consultancy. Autistic people can work with people, be social workers, become CEOs, entrepreneurs, run businesses, and form relationships all over the world. Even on Clubhouse, I’ve met many other autistic entrepreneurs there too and be upscaled 6, 7, 8–figure businesses and have remarkable lives and defied the stereotypes that exist out there and that we’re working together on removing.
I love the work that you’re doing. Tell me about neurodiversity. Is this a word that you created saying, “We want the diversity of the neurological acceptance of whatever someone has?” Maybe it’s someone who stutters or maybe has autism. What is behind that terminology so I have clarity around that?
Neurodiversity was a word coined by the lovely Judy Singer. Neurodiversity is a movement, so to speak, between autistic ADHD, ADD, dyslexia, where it’s more of a social model. What we try to champion is understanding and acceptance rather than diagnosing, treating, and curing. Being autistic, for me, is an identity. It’s an integral part of who I am. That’s how I see, feel, and interact with the world and everyone around me. It’s something to be proud of. That’s something I’m extremely proud of with the Neurodiversity movement as a whole.
The model of acceptance and understanding what we all want together as for a wave of children growing up happy, proud, and confident of who they are. Whenever more closely is the majority of people that they get to decide who’s disordered in comparison to them. What we like to do, politely and diplomatically, is to say, “Absolutely not. We are not a distorted version of you. We view the world differently than you and that’s fine and that’s okay.” That’s what neurodiversity is in a nutshell.
Go back to when you were breaking out. I don’t know what you were when you were younger as an autistic person. I’ve got a couple of cousins, so I know how they act and it’s funny because they act different but they’re both autistic. They’re different in the way that they act. I wonder if some of this is coddling, because autistic or not, he will always live at home. The other is vibrant. I could talk about any of my 37 cousins this way about that.Neurodiversity, in a nutshell says, “We are not a distorted version of you. We view the world differently than you, and that's okay.” Click To Tweet
I wonder if there’s a coddling effect because he’s older than my other younger cousin. Is there a coddling effect that was introduced to autistic children back then saying, “Keep them coveted. Keep them in a bubble. They’re special. They need to have certain things?” Do you think that exploited, on the reverse side, his ability to grow that he could have grown much more in that particular case? Not knowing how you were, how did you start? One of the first things that I know about both of them is they don’t look me in the eye. Did you have to train yourself to do that? There was a double question in there. What are the impacts of the social surroundings they have? What did you do to change some of your behavior? I hate saying change. What did you do? As I’m talking to you, I would never know you’re autistic based on my knowledge.
The thing with autistic people, we’re all different. That’s why it’s called on an autistic spectrum. It’s not a scale of severity that goes from left to right as in less autistics down here and more autistic up here. They are somewhere in between. We’re all completely different. Some of us are outgoing. Some of us can look people in the eye while some can’t. Some function highly. Some have different care needs and some have different support needs. At the same time, overall, if put together, we’re all autistic. We are different that’s why it is a spectrum, not a continuum, so to speak.
It’s interesting that you did mention that whenever it comes to the coddling effect, it’s difficult to say but think of it this way. This is what I always say, as time has gone on, there has been more of the coddling effect that you are alluding to where there’s more of an emphasis on therapy, diagnosing, treating, and care. We don’t want to change for anybody. For me, the only behavior that I exhibited was that I suppressed who I was to try and have fun with my peers. That’s called masking. I adopted another personality to become what society would deem to be socially acceptable because that’s what my existence was like.
That had to be draining.
It was draining. The bottom line is that a lot of people will do. I have to admit a lot of well-meaning people that maybe don’t know the impact is if you behave a certain way, you will be acceptable to them. That’s sad. It’s all done in the name of inclusion and trying to have these kids or adults. I suppose the main behavior change either is that I stopped doing that and I had to become proud and happy in my skin and become content and happy in my skin. I’m not going to say, “Society doesn’t accept me. Society pummeled me and put their foot on my hand to keep me down.” I was my own worst enemy a lot of the time. I clawed my hands up.
I do see my cousin saying, “Joey, don’t do that.” That concerns me for his well-being. As I’m thinking through this, I’m thinking, “There’s a spectrum of alcoholism.” It’s the same thing. There’s this whole thing about alcoholism. You can have a functioning alcoholic and you can have a mess of an alcoholic. You can have a drug addict. You can have a sex-addicted person. You could have all these things in society. I also think that, as a whole, we all mask. Don’t you think we all mask to a certain extent?
You see me and I’ve been doing not just this show but other podcasts for so long that there’s no mask on me. I am who I am. This is who I am when I turn off the camera and everything. I am who I am but there is a certain amount of masking that happens in society. I’m going to use weird words. I’m going to use normal people. The normal people go, “You’re different. You’re not whatever.” If I’m also that person who feels I’m masking, what is some advice that you can give to all of us to unmask?
It’s not as simple as saying, “Unmask,” where people take off their mask, so to speak. This is the whole point of the Neurodiversity Movement, in particular. Society should be so accepting and understanding that the need to mask shouldn’t happen anyway. That puts the onus on us to remove a mask, rather than putting the onus on everybody else to be understanding, so we don’t even need to have them. The difference is there’s a spectrum of variations and a lot of pathologies, whether that is alcoholism, cancer, or anything else.
For me, whenever I worked as a social worker, which I did for a long time, there is little to nothing meaningful about alcoholism or having cancer. The difference with autism is that there is something meaningful about being autistic and that it makes Jude Morrow, Jude Morrow. I’m extremely proud of that. For so long, I wasn’t allowed to be proud of that. Everybody should be proud of their identity, who they are, and shouldn’t feel the need to cover that for anybody. That’s what the problem is. The problem isn’t that we mask, the problem is that we fail and we have to in order to fit in with everybody the way society says right now.
It’s exasperated in autism, as opposed to something else. I still think the masks still exist. I’m curious and I apologize for some of my questions. I hope they’re not hurting anybody’s feelings. I need to ask these questions because it’s part of the unknown for me. This is anything. If you see someone who’s in a wheelchair, people tend to, “Ew,” because we don’t know how to approach. It’s not that they’re horrible or think anything. It’s the uncomfortableness of knowing how to approach. Help us understand how to be accepting of someone who is autistic. We’re talking specifically about that for this show. If I know that someone’s autistic, instead of backing up, how do I move forward? How do we engage with them? How do we ensure that they know that they’re comfortable around me so that uneasiness doesn’t happen?Everybody should be proud of their identity and who they are and shouldn't feel the need to cover that for anybody. Click To Tweet
I’m not a big believer in energies or anything like that but whenever I see people staring at me or I have any quirks because I’m quite fidgety. I pace up and down. I pack up myself and I notice that people can often look at me whenever I’m doing that.
I’m fidgety too. I get fidgety because I sit here all day in this cockamamie chair.
There needs to be an understanding that people are different. If you see someone and they are different, that doesn’t necessarily meet the facts. That’s who they are. Understand that people are undirected and see the world in a different way than you do. Find peace within yourself with that as a reality. I know that so many people have their hearts in the right place, whenever it comes to them to help people to make people fit in or to cure things that they may be unsettling for them to look at. It’s not true. It’s not the mindset to have because some people do the things they do and it shouldn’t need a cure because people like different sports teams. I don’t think, “Did I support the wrong sports team? I need to put something in the DSM and get a cure for them.” That’s the same concept.
Let’s make a shift over to what you do for businesses. I’m going to read what you have here as well, “Autism–based businesses and nonprofits are suffering greatly. As both an autistic person and a qualified social worker, I transform autism-based nonprofits and businesses with my professional and personal experience.” One, tell us why are they suffering greatly? Two, what do you do to help them grow?
The first thing is if a business has things like offensive symbols and terminology like a puzzle piece, that’s rejected by the autistic community. That Light it Up Blue thing is rejected.
What is that Light it Up Blue thing?
There’s a campaign every year around April and you’ll probably see it everywhere. Light It Up Blue or Autism Awareness month.
It’s a subtle inequality. I fit the perfect stereotype for autism, me being a white, middle-class voice, so there’s a lot of autistic women who are fighting to be recognized because there is a gap and diagnoses. It’s something that I do want to champion and I will mention it whenever I’m seated at the table because it’s a big issue, but there’s a medical model whenever it comes to the autism and autistic people.
A lot of businesses do have that medical model because as time is going on, there are more and more proud autistic voices saying, “We don’t accept what you’re standing for.” Mainly along with therapy-based centers or therapy-based movements, which is a huge lobby in the US. It’s worth about $15 billion a year. Instead of having an ethos of diagnosis treatment here, move businesses under the neurodiversity marketplace with careful branding, strategy, social media outreach. Ultimately having a service that has at the core of their being to promote acceptance and understanding rather than children still growing up feeling they’re a broken version of everyone else. That’s what it was like for me years ago, it shouldn’t be that for children now.
Moving under this new and lucrative neurodiversity market space is going to benefit them greatly because there are two forms of revenue. I say this all the time. There’s your financial revenue and your reputation revenue. If you have a medicalized treatment program, center, or business, your reputation revenues are going down over time than more people there are like me in the world voicing our concerns. Also, the concerns of the autistic community, but moving into the neurodiversity space, it’s going to massively increase people’s reputation revenue, which will then monetize itself.
Everything will start going up. Can you give us an example of a client, leave them unnamed, that you help that was an entrepreneur struggling because there was this prejudice against their company? People say, “Don’t go there because he might maybe mess up your accounting.” They think, “Whatever.” My whole perspective is changing but there’s a prejudice that happens there. I imagine this person felt low and felt beat down personally. What did you do to help them get through that and what did that transformation look like now?
The first one I can think of, one, in particular, is an autism coach that champions autistic women and girls. He came through my door because her programs weren’t selling. She couldn’t get herself out there in such a way that people would take notice of her programs while she was doing endless by–day challenges. What we did together was we got the program. After that, careful branding that social media strategy. What we started to do then was to post-webinar classes on the Neurodiversity Training International event break channels, so people were coming in the back.Understand that people are undirected and see the world in a different way than you do. Find peace within yourself with that. Click To Tweet
We allowed her to talk about her experience to give a warmer, free masterclass. Instead of the old medicalized market that she was targeting, she’s targeting the neurodiversity market now. It’s been a success story of mine. We’re still in great contact. I love seeing her grow and grow. That’s been wonderful. There’s a couple of coaches and mentors now and even businesses as well. They’re helping them design courses that are accredited so they could sell these courses and put them out there with the understanding and acceptance ethos radiating through their training on their brand rather than autistic people need to be and paying dividends for them.
To be clear on this, she’s autistic and she was trying to attract other autistic business owners to coach them. Is that correct? Was she trying to attract anyone interested in neurodiversity so they could have that in their practice as well?
Initially, we bought her program. It was like a counseling program for autistic teenage girls and young women but what we did was we kept the pillars of the program that she had. We almost engineered it, tweaked it, and made it a little bit sexier from a marketing and branding point of view so it would have the most impact. Her clientele would be the parents of autistic teenage girls, or even some younger girls and young women who have received a diagnosis or this new identity and agreeing to come to terms with that as her marketspace.
What’s left on your bucket list?
My ultimate aim in life is to have a world where neurodiversity is at the forefront of all of the horrible stereotypes and judgments are passed and this new progressive way of saying autistic people as gifted rather than having deficits is going to be the way forward. We have the best team ever. If you look back over history, some of the most intelligent minds of our time we’re all autistic. Einstein, Stanley Kubrick, even Christa Holmans, Marie Curie, Jude Morrow, the list is endless.
We all knew that about him. We knew that about Albert Einstein. What keeps you going every day?
Every day, the world’s getting a little bit better but the future is getting a little bit brighter for autistic people in the world. It’s sad because going back to Einstein, given the way society is known, if Albert Einstein was born today, we wouldn’t have special and general relativity. We wouldn’t have the space tenure and we wouldn’t have any of those core understanding of the universe.
We wouldn’t compound interest.
Someone probably would have told Albert Einstein to stop obsessing about the universe because autistic people apparently have obsessive and repetitive behaviors. Somebody would probably have told Albert Einstein to stop doing that but back then he was able to be unapologetically himself and look at the results. Whenever autistic people are allowed to be unapologetically themselves, wonderful things happen, so stop suppressing them.
I love the way that you phrase that and that is a perfect way for us to end. What can we do to help you? If someone’s reading this, one, if they’re autistic, they need to get in touch with you. We know that but if they know someone who’s autistic, or they have an autistic person in their lives, how can we help? What can we do?
As for me, I’m a person all adding value and serving other people. If I were to give a real nugget of gold to end this show on is that being autistic is okay. That’s nothing to be fearful of because even whenever people say to someone else, “My child is autistic.“ It’s almost like, “I’m so sorry.” Instead of saying that, say, “Congratulations, some of the most gifted people the human race has ever produced have been autistic. Congratulations. What a great club for your child to belong to. Well done.”
That is a 180-degree turn and it’s something that we all need to be doing in nowadays world. Everyone’s more open to it now. We’re open to the diversity that’s happening and we’re experiencing it in the whole world. The timing couldn’t be better. I’m glad that you’re at the forefront. I’m glad that you’re doing this. I love that you became a social worker because there’s so much of the psyche of people in this as well on both sides.
That makes you a unique and special person and being able to stick your neck out the way you do to speak on behalf of an entire group of individuals in the world is impressive. I want to honor and acknowledge you for that for the work that you’re doing. It is important and I appreciate that you were doing it for everybody and for me, too. It’s not only for the autistic world but for everybody. Thank you so much. What is the best way for everyone to get in touch with you? How do we open those doors?
You can get in touch with me, whether that’s on LinkedIn or Facebook. I have the most open DMs on the platform. You can reach out to me through my website, which is Neurodiversity-Training.com, so my door is always open. I am a black belt in responding to people, so I’m easily obtained.
We’ll make sure that everyone can get in touch with you and that we can start following you. I know I’ve already started following you. I tend to do that before my interviews to make sure I can start following. I’m excited to see what’s part of that. I want to let you know that if there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know what I can do to help you with this movement and move everything forward. It’s so great to have the opportunity to meet with you and I thank you for being on our show.
Thank you, Jen and I promise the pleasure was mine. I can’t thank you enough. Thank you so much.
You’re welcome. Everybody, thank you so much for joining us and taking time out of your day to read to what we have to say about cracking and breaking through glass ceilings whatever they may be for you or other people. I remind you again if you would, please give us a great five-star rating and write a review about what you learned or the thoughts that you had, or the one word that you took away with it. They’ve graded us a five-star review. We don’t ask for one star. We want a five-star. I appreciate everybody’s time and we’ll catch you next time on the next episode. Make it a great week.
- Jude Morrow
- Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad?
- The Secret
- Neurodiversity Training International
- Christa Holmans
- LinkedIn – Jude Morrow
- Facebook – Jude Morrow
- @JudeMorrow – Instagram
- @JudeMorrow10 – Twitter
- Neurodiversity Training International – Facebook
About Jude Morrow
Jude Morrow is an autistic author, social worker, motivational speaker and advocate for all things Autism and Neurodiversity. Jude is the author of the globally acclaimed “Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad?” –published by Beyond Words, publisher of The Secret. Jude has toured groups locally and internationally to show that autistic people can grow to live happy and successful lives.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Success to Significance Community today: