Shattering Stereotypes: Embracing Neurodiversity in the Workplace

    [fa icon="calendar"] Mar 19, 2024 11:00:00 AM / by Sam Stockman

    Sam Stockman



    Neurodiversity, a term coined in the 1990s, shines a light on those whose learning or behavior development differs from their peers. Neurodiversity focuses on how people navigate and engage with the world in different ways, rejecting the idea of a singular correct way of thinking or learning. Neurodiversity is understanding that differences are not deficits. This inclusive term highlights those identifying as Autistic (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexic, and more.

    In recognition of Neurodiversity Celebration Week, Sam Lowe gave us his perspective on what it means to be neurodivergent in the work place. Sam, who identifies as Autistic and ADHD, became aware of his autism in fifth grade, thanks to the observations of his parents and teachers. 

    "Before I learned I was autistic, I was having a really hard time in life,” said Sam. “When my parents and teachers brought it up, things started making more sense to me."

    Sam would go on to earn a bachelor's degree in graphic design from Vincennes University. However, post-graduation, he encountered barriers in securing employment with a stable schedule and income. When the opportunity to work at Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana came, Sam applied to the retail eCommerce division, eventually becoming an Online Merchandise Poster and supporting

    "Being an Online Merchandise Poster, it’s my job to make sure that auctions are as accurate as possible,” said Sam. “I make sure the customers get all the information they need when bidding on auctions. I also prepare the auction items for the customer service and shipping departments, ensuring auctions reach the customers as safely as possible."

    Over the next five years, Sam expanded his expertise at Goodwill by cross-training in departments such as photography and eBooks. His consistency and keen attention to detail established him as a reliable team member. Sam also mentored peers, offering advice for success in their roles.

    Sam attributes his job satisfaction to his role's predictability. Goodwill’s uniform policy and structured work schedule allows him to collaborate with his counselor outside of work, holding regular meetings and setting goals. 

    "I’ve already met some of the goals I set out for myself. I now live in my own apartment that is close to my family, and I have a cat named Suzy," Sam said.

    For Sam, being both autistic and living with ADHD means viewing the world differently from his peers. Often, there are negative stereotypes associated with autism and emotional detachment, but Sam believes that his autism enhances his empathy.

    "Autistic people feel very deeply; some of us are just not as good at showing it. I have many personal systems in place to help me. I’m like everyone else in many ways, but in some ways, I’m just different," Sam said. 

    Interested in working at Goodwill? Check out our website for current job openings.

    Topics: Employment, ClickGoodwill, Retail, Mission Awareness, DEI

    Sam Stockman

    Written by Sam Stockman

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