Vesna Manojlovic

RIPE Community Resilience: Embracing Neurodiversity

Vesna Manojlovic
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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."
by Dani Donovan at

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:

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.
Cognitive Spectrum

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:

General resources:

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:

Been There, Done That, Got a T-shirt
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About the author

Vesna Manojlovic is Community Builder at RIPE NCC. Vesna joined the RIPE NCC as a Trainer in 1999. In 2003, she took responsibility for developing and delivering advanced courses, such as RPSL, Routing Registry, DNSSEC and IPv6. In 2008, she lead efforts to establish IPv6 RIPEness as a measure of IPv6 deployment among LIRs. In 2011, she joined the Science Division as Manager of the Measurements Community Building team; in 2015 she moved to Communications Department as Senior Community Builder, with a focus on organising hackathons. Vesna gives presentations at many technical conferences and workshops, and enjoys visiting hackerspaces. Vesna received a Batchelor of Sciences Degree in Computer Science and Informatics from the School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade. She has three children.

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