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Neurodiversity Celebration Week

March 18 - 24, 2024

”Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences while creating more inclusive and equitable cultures that celebrate differences and empower every individual.” [1]

This year’s theme is “Empowering Neurodiverse Voices - Building a Culture of Inclusion”.

With this theme in mind, we at Calltime Mental Health want to introduce ways the film and entertainment sector can help to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions, and how neurodivergent and neurotypical people can work together to increase inclusion and empowerment.

What is Neurodiversity & Inclusion?

Neurodiversity refers to a world where neurological differences are not only recognized but also respected as natural variations in the human experience. Essentially, it's about embracing the idea that our brains are wired differently, leading to diverse ways of thinking, moving, processing information, and communicating.

Neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of alternative thinking styles, including conditions such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia (DCD), Dyscalculia, Autism, and ADHD. However, it's important to recognize that neurodiversity is not limited to specific labels or diagnoses. Instead, it's about acknowledging and valuing the unique perspectives of individuals who think differently.

Research suggests that approximately 15-20% of the population has a neurological difference. Rather than viewing these differences as deficits or disorders, the concept of neurodiversity encourages us to take a more balanced approach, focusing on an individual's strengths as well as their challenges.

What’s It Like Working in the Entertainment Industry as a Neurodivergent Person?

A lot of the social and situational challenges neurodiverse people face are not caused by the condition itself, but by the processes and environments they have to deal with. Most of the time, the industry is made with the neurotypical majority population in mind, which makes it hard for people with different neurological profiles to function.

Neurodivergent individuals often feel they have to put on a mask to “fit in”. They tend to push aside their needs and examples of this could include:

  • Suppressing calming behaviors which are natural ways of self-regulation and expression for many neurodivergent people. They may avoid engaging in these behaviors in professional settings to avoid drawing attention or appearing "different."

  • Masking social difficulties such as challenges with eye contact, small talk, or interpreting social cues. They may mimic neurotypical behavior in social interactions, even if it feels unnatural or exhausting, in order to avoid stigma or rejection.

  • Hiding sensory sensitivities such as sensitivity to light, noise, or textures. In the film industry, where sensory-rich environments are common on sets and during production, neurodivergent individuals may feel pressure to conceal their sensitivities to avoid disrupting the workflow or being perceived as difficult.

  • Downplaying communication differences such as difficulty with verbal expression, processing speed, or nonverbal cues. 

With the right support, neurodivergent individuals can thrive in their roles and are invaluable team members, bringing their unique perspectives and skills to work. For example, a filmmaker with ADHD may bring a hyperfocus and creative energy to their work, leading to innovative storytelling techniques and visually captivating productions. Similarly, a scriptwriter with dyslexia may offer a fresh perspective on character development and dialogue, enriching the storytelling experience for audiences. 

By creating an inclusive environment that welcomes neurodiverse talent, the film industry not only cultivates creativity and innovation but also reflects the rich diversity of human experience on screen.

How Can Film Sets Challenge Stereotypes and Misconceptions?

Embracing neurodiversity in the film industry means recognizing the valuable contributions of people who think in different ways and making a space that values different ways of thinking and experiencing things. Not only will this make sets more welcoming, but it will also help our industry as a whole reach its full potential. 

Research has continually shown that positive interactions between members of different groups reduce negative perceptions and stereotypes and increase empathy. A study (meta-analysis) looking at the results of 515 studies concluded that:

"Greater intergroup contact typically corresponds with lower levels of intergroup prejudice, and 94% of the studies reveal an inverse relationship between contact and prejudices of many types"

Therefore, to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions, the film industry should include and hire neurodivergent people. The more people in the industry get to work with a diverse workforce, the more normal it becomes.

Working with people from all walks of life means the industry benefits from the skills and creative power of a wide spectrum of people, including those who are neurodivergent.

How Can This Be Achieved?

  • Make the hiring and on-boarding process more inclusive. Currently, it’s often conducted in a way that excludes people who don’t conform to the norm.

  • Offer training on neurodiversity to people working in the industry. Training should be created and presented by neurodivergent individuals.

How Can the Film Industry Be More Supportive?

  • Allow people to be themselves and to express themselves freely so neurodivergent individuals don’t have to use all their energy masking (trying to seem neurotypical).

  • Connect with the community to find the best ways to hire, support, and train neurodivergent individuals and encourage collaborations between studios, unions, government agencies, non-profits, vocational rehab centers, educational institutions, or offices for disabilities.

  • Hire a neurodivergent “Access Coordinator” (or similar). They can approach neurodivergent individuals, assess their needs, and ensure accommodations are being provided. This is someone they can come to when there’s an issue.

  • Everyone is different and therefore has different needs. However, having tools such as noise-canceling headphones, private rooms, and flexible work schedules can help the workforce be their most productive.

  • Co-production, where everyone is working towards common goals and those involved have equal power in designing and implementing changes and improvements.

Tips for Self-Management

Everyone has different needs, strengths, and challenges, but here are some general points of advice if you identify as neurodivergent:

  • Work out your strengths and challenges and what helps you be the best version of yourself.

  • Take sensory breaks by identifying a quiet space on set where you can retreat for a few minutes to recalibrate.

  • Bring to work anything that helps you manage.

  • Be confident in, and offer, the gifts and contributions you bring to your work

  • Communicate your needs and seek appropriate accommodations.

  • Build a support network with other neurodivergent individuals as well as neurotypical allies.

  • Seek out training opportunities that align with your interests and career goals.

Peer-to-Peer Support

Peer support means people with shared experiences support each other to thrive. They have a better understanding of each other and can therefore be open about their struggles, ask questions, encourage and root for one another, and advocate on each other’s behalf. 

Workplace peers can play a crucial role in supporting neurodivergent individuals in film by fostering a culture of acceptance, understanding, and inclusion. Here are some ways you can help as a workplace peer:

  • Educate yourself about neurodiversity and common neurodivergent traits, behaviors, and challenges. 

  • Foster open communication and create an environment where neurodivergent individuals feel comfortable discussing their needs, preferences, and challenges openly and without fear of judgment. 

  • Offer support and accommodation which could include providing flexible work arrangements, offering assistance with sensory accommodations, or simply lending a supportive ear when needed.

  • Respect boundaries and preferences including their need for personal space, sensory accommodations, or communication preferences. 

  • Be an ally and advocate and challenge stereotypes, misconceptions, and discriminatory behaviors, and actively promote diversity and acceptance.

  • Collaborate and celebrate the unique strengths, talents, and contributions of neurodivergent colleagues. 

Final Word

Neurodiversity Week celebrates different minds, our uniqueness as individuals, and our oneness as humans. How will you support the cause and celebrate neurodiversity this week? 

Check out the list of free webinar events between 18 and 24 March, which will include inspirational speakers, focus groups, and discussions. All events are free of charge and open to all - follow the link below to sign up:

For more information and resources, visit the Neurodiversity Celebration Week homepage and resources page, where you will find lots of information about the week, neurodiversity, and how to ensure workplaces are inclusive and fair:

Neurodiversity Celebration Week Homepage: 

Free online Autism and Neurodiversity in the Workplace course through UBC


Abrams, D. (2010) Processes of prejudice: Theory, evidence and intervention, Equality and Human Rights Commission Research Report 56.

BAFTA (2023, August 16). A Practical Guide to Neurodiversity in the Entertainment Industry [Video]. YouTube.

Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. (2006). A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 90: 5), 751-783.


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