Neurodiversity: Why Is It So Hard To Ask for Help?

Taking the Leap of Faith


Asking for help can be a very vulnerable thing to do. It’s often drummed into us from an early age (particularly in men) that asking for help is a sign of weakness.


During the early days of Lexxic, I worked as an assessor and would work on a one-to-one basis with people with a neurodiverse condition, such as dyslexia. The people I spoke to would tell their story of how they’d gotten to this moment, how they’d finally brought themselves to undergo a neurodiversity assessment, and, as I expected, the reasons were varied. Sometimes the drive came from the fact their child had just been diagnosed with a neurodiverse condition, and they recognised these traits in themselves. Other times, they may have read an article about a famous person with a neurodiverse condition and recognised familiarity with their traits.


What became a big ‘oh’ moment for me as an assessor though, and this moment came all far too often, was when I’d ask people how long they had known about their traits, versus how long it had taken them to finally ask for help. On average, women seemed to say around six months, but men would respond with timelines of around five years! I was shocked.

The Power of Stereotypes


I got thinking. Perhaps the stereotypes associated with gender played a large role as to why some people took longer to seek a neurodiversity diagnosis than others (I relate back to my previous point around the stereotype of men asking for help being seen as a sign of weakness). Or was it just built into women to ask for help more easily? The YouGov survey, the largest of its kind, polled more than 2,500 people who have had mental health difficulties, showing 28% of men admitting that they had not sought medical help, compared to just 19% of women.

A Harsh Truth


I remember one assessment that really stood out to me. A Muslim man came to me and expressed that he could not tell anyone about his dyslexia assessment. I was curious as to why, and he explained that if he told anyone in his family about his diagnosis, this could impact the prospect of his family being able to select a suitable marriage partner. I was so saddened to hear this. Our biggest desire or deepest vulnerability could also be the one thing we may never be able to share; it is the one thing that may take us years to ask for support with. Perhaps we feel shame or perceive that others may judge us in a certain way.

Unlock Your Superpowers


It takes a lot of courage to ask for help. If you are not sure on how to ask for help, try speaking to someone who has been on the journey already. You could also speak in confidence to a specialist. Do not suffer in silence – a problem shared is a problem halved! Remember, being neurodivergent brings many superpowers, so once you understand yourself and the strategies that support you, it can really help you fly!


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This article was originally published on Lexxic.


Open Minds Silicon Valley provides platforms to elevate the voices of diverse students, professionals, and families. We encourage writing submissions to be emailed to eric@openmindschool.org. We look forward to being in touch about possible feature options.

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