Realising hidden potential

About neurodiversity.

The range of differences in individual brain function and behavioural traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population
— Wikipedia

Autism Spectrum Disorder in the population

  • It is estimated that 1-1.5% of the population are on the spectrum: around 1 in 42 males and 1 in 189 females

  • In 2015, there were 164,000 Australians with autism

  • 31% of participants in the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are autistic 

  • Around 1 in 50 Australian school children has a formal autism diagnosis and are registered to receive Carer Allowance

  • In the US, prevalence amongst children is estimated at 1 in 45


Source: Australia Bureau of Statistics (2017), NDIS Quarterly Report (June 2015), A4 Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (2015) and US Dept of Health and Human Services, National Health Statistics Report (Nov 2015)

These differences can include those labelled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome and others.
— Syracuse University, National Symposium on Neurodiversity 2011

Neurodiversity is a combination of traits that are seen as both strengths and challenges. Depending on the neurodiverse condition and its severity, individuals can display strengths in different areas, including:


  • high levels of concentration on areas of interest
  • long-term memory skills
  • detail oriented
  • ability to see patterns and think visually
  • enhanced perceptual functioning
  • reliability and punctuality
  • technical ability
  • loyalty and honesty
  • non-judgemental listening


  • spatial intelligence and pattern recognition
  • 3-D, holistic, ‘big picture’ thinking
  • mechanical aptitude
  • creativity and entrepreneurial proclivities
  • 50% of NASA employees are dyslexic


  • hyper-focused
  • higher levels of creativity, inventiveness, spontaneity and energy


  • humour and creativity
  • determination


  • creativity
  • problem solving
  • strategic thinking



The facts.

JPMorganChase completed a side-by-side comparison of a neurodiverse team with a neurotypical team, which indicated the neurodiverse team achieved 48% higher productivity.

The 30 participants in the Dandelion Programme in software-testing roles at Australia’s Federal Government Department of Human Services have demonstrated 30% higher productivity over other teams.

A study by Curtin University in 2016 found that employing adults with ASD benefited employees, employers and their organisations without incurring additional costs.

A survey of co-workers of those in the Dandelion Programme in Australia indicated strong conviction about the importance and value of the programme.

They’ve actually helped sharpen up some of the thought processes amongst the teams. They’ll ask questions where others fear to tread...
— from survey of co-workers - by darren hedley, OTARC, Latrobe University

In March 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that 85% of autistic people in the US are unemployed or underemployed and 60% of them have cognitive abilities at or above those of neurotypical people. A 2016 study by the National Autistic Society in the UK arrived at a similar conclusion. A United Nations proclamation on World Autism Day 2016 estimated that more than 80% of adults with autism around the world are unemployed.

In Australia, participation in the workforce for people of working age with ASD was only 40.8%, compared with 53.4% for people with a disability and 83.2% of those without a disability.

Reducing the employment gap between people with and without disabilities by one-third would result in a rise in Australia's GDP of 0.85% over the longer term. 

The estimated annual cost of autism in Australia in 2010 was AUD8.1-11.2bn.

In Australia, people with autism are less likely to achieve an educational qualification beyond school.  People with other disabilities were 2.3 times more likely to have a tertiary qualification, whilst people with no disability were 4.4 times more likely to have one.