Cognitive needs - for understanding, curiosity, exploration, knowledge - are strong in the technical communities. We are also known for the high prevalence of diverse neurotypes. This article celebrates the inclusion and care of all our quirks.
Session Layer and Cognitive Needs
This article is NOT about:
- Jam session
- Session IPA
- Login session
- "Session layer”
Except that the Layer 5 of the OSI model corresponds to the “cognitive needs” in the extended version of Maslow’s pyramid , according to my metaphorical mapping that this series of articles is based on.
“Maslow believed that humans chase knowledge to increase their intelligence, so he added cognitive needs in his hierarchy of needs pyramid that focuses on learning, discovering, and creating a better understanding of the world. The motive behind this need is to learn, explore, and welcome experiences in life; needs for meaning and predictability, knowledge and understanding."
Embracing Neurodiversity in Tech
The RIPE community is very strong when it comes to cognition. We are also very rich with people “belonging to the neurodiversity spectrum”, as defined in 1998 by Judy Singer:
“The neurologically different represent a new addition to the familiar political categories of class/gender/race and will augment the insights of the social model of (non-pathological) disability.”
“Neurodiversity (ND) may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general." — Harvey Blume, The Atlantic, 1998
Adjacent technical communities have been covering this topic for a long time; here are my favourite resources that might be helpful to you when dealing with neurodiverse colleagues in your teams, organisations, communities, and/or families and friends:
- SHA2017 lecture: “Nerd-Wrangling 101: Managing Neurodiversity with Cognitive Empathy”, by Meredith L. Patterson and Julian Finn (video)
The term "Nerd" broadly describes very many of the quirks that come with neurodiversity. While not all nerds are neurologically diverse, many are. ADHD and Asperger's, as well as mood disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety, and personality disorders such as OCD are very common within the hacker scene.
- Adding “neurotype” to the D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) / Code of Conduct statements by Ryan Boren #ActuallyAutistic parent and retired tech worker at Automattic (2017).
- “Failed Empathy” CCC lecture (in German) and video about the representation of autism in the media by Beta Lars: a happy autistic 3D artist, game designer and Tinkerer ( 2020).
- Creating equitable digital spaces for neurodivergent individuals talk at MozFest, by Rin Oliver (March 2021).
- "Things Every Software Engineer Should Know About Neurodiversity" Talk on EggHead.io by Myk Bilokonsky. Course Notes on GitHub, by Lauro Silva.
- RIPE Labs articleThe Microphone is the Devil Some Know - Embracing Neurodiversity at RIPE Meetings , by Amanda Gowland — 11 Jun 2019
- "Neurodiversity HCI" (human-computer interaction) in the magazine “Interactions”, by Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI) talks about the importance of considering all ways of cognition when designing interfaces (2013).
Pandemic Brain at Work
As if life wasn't difficult enough for non-typical people, in the last year we have also had to deal with the extra load of the pandemic. Here are some useful resources to boost your resilience:
- Pandemic Brain (comic about editors) by Eva Cheung
- "How Exceptional Individuals and Companies They Have Worked with Are Responding to COVID-19"
- Finding meaning by Caitlin Johnstone
- Using “cognitive empathy” at work
- Accessible Teaching In the Time of COVID-19
- Pandemic and Privilege: how much of an option is working from home?
- COVID-19 Brain Fog inspires search for causes and treatments (April 2021)
- "Black like Me with ADHD"
- "Let’s Get Together! Book Clubs for Neurodivergent Adults"
- Pandemic fatigue is tangible and persistent: “surge capacity depletion” how to restore energy and mood Additude magazine is a WONDERFUL resource, this is one typical article.
- Gratis Masterclass and handbooks, for educating young and adult learners by CognAssist
- Cognitive load: privilege, disability and Maslow’s pyramid
- "Spoon Theory", by Christine Miserandino in 2003 (about life with a chronicle illness)
- The Science of Well-Being a gratis Coursera course, started on 3rd May 2021, and The Happiness Lab podcast - both by psychology professor Laurie Santos from Yale University
ND Brain at Play
In 2000, the Canadian Medical Association published a paper that analysed characters from Winnie the Pooh novels and mapped them on the ND spectrum.
Read the review of "Neurocomic",'A Graphic Novel About How the Brain Works' by Brain Pickings.
And in 2016, Jace Harr made an interactive online game for algorithmic self-care, for those of us who have problems with Executive Function, or have trouble reading internal signals. By answering questions you can find out which of your needs is not met, and continue through the "if-then-else" branchings, until you are satisfied with your care. Or, "you may want to go through this routine as soon as you wake up, as a preventative measure."
If you'd like, you can copy or modify this project on GitHub (in Russian), you can translate it into your own language or add other questions & answers!!! I just love how geeky that is!
Recognise - Normalise - Embrace (Neurodiversity)
Calls to action:
- Please fill in the survey about RIPE Community Wellbeing (before 11 May)
- Join the event "Downloadable Brain" on 12 May, by Cognitive Sensations
- Register for the webinar "Covid and Mental Health", on 13 May, organised by the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Bristol
- Register to attend RIPE82 (14-21 May)
- Celebrate (Dutch) Neurodiversity Pride Day on 18 June!
- and/or look back at the "Neurodiversity Celebration Week" that was in March