What we wish our employers knew about ND Fatigue

Fatigue is something everyone experiences – especially working adults. Feeling tired, not being able to sleep -neurodivergent or not, we’ve all had to go through a day with very little energy. And what would an 8 am meeting be without jokes about guzzling coffee and letting folks know that you’re just “not a morning person?” But for many neurodivergents, the everyday human experiences that make everyone tired are only the beginning of the story. Today marks the first in an irregular series – “What we wish our employers knew about Neurodivergent Fatigue.”

The first thing to know is – our fatigue can come out of NOWHERE. How our bodies feel and process things like pain, hunger, or fatigue can be really out of whack. This is due to challenges with interoception – which is a human’s sense of what is happening in their bodies physiologically. (That’s right – interoception is a sense! Contrary to what your kindergarten teacher told you, we have way more than five senses.) We can literally be in the middle of an activity, feeling fine, and suddenly, our brains and bodies are just drained of all energy. This isn’t a little tired – it’s sudden exhaustion that makes it physically hard to think or speak. Those with ADHD often refer to these as crashes. Crashes can’t be predicted. They might not come at the same time every day, they might not happen every day at all, or they could happen once in the morning and another in the afternoon. This is one of the reasons working from home and being able to do our work on a flexible schedule is so important. I might desperately need to lay down for a nap at 1:47 pm on a Friday. But my boss knows I’ll get my work done some other time I have energy. This could be in the middle of the night or on the weekend. So even if I sneak away for a nap, my Monday morning deadline is no problem. It’s not like any work I generate during a crash is usable anyway. Fun fact: I have twice misspelled my own name on large presentations while trying to work through a crash. There is a group out there to this day that has a document from “Jeffica.” Forcing someone in a crash to sit at work just so they are physically there is as helpful as propping up a puppy in the cockpit of a plane, though not as cute.

One thing you hear a lot in my videos is the phrase “We aren’t lazy.” This random fatigue we experience is one of the reasons people can assume we are – or that we’re not dedicated, we don’t listen, we’re not professional, we don’t pay attention, we slack off. None of those conclusions is fair. We just may have energy at times of day that don’t fall into a standard 8-5. For us, flexibility is essential. In fact, it’s better for everyone.

#Neurodiversity #Neurodivergent #Tired #Fatigue #Autism #ADHD #Dyslexia #Dyspraxia #Discalculia #NeurodiversityAtWork #TheNeurodiverseWorkplace #CoachJessicaMichaels