The empowering potential of AI for neurodivergent individuals

Written by George Eckton, Citizens Advice Scotland , & Angela Prentner-Smith Entrepreneur and Business Owner, This is Milk

Last month we marked Neurodiversity Week, sparking a conversation about the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and concerns regarding bias. Amidst these discussions, the focus turns to how AI holds significant potential to empower neurodivergent individuals by offering tailored support and tools. This potential is not just theoretical, as neurodivergent people ourselves, we have undertaken big projects to help others with the following real-world applications:

  •   At This is Milk, Angela has developed and delivered a ‘neurodiverse first’ online learning platform, Neve Learning, which will meet the needs of people with learning challenges such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and by doing so, means learning is more impactful for everyone.
  •   At CAS, Angela and George have worked together in the CivTech 8 process to solve a challenge using AI to help improve safeguarding for vulnerable consumers. This has improved staff wellbeing, has potential for the same on consumers, and acts as a safeguard for all whilst always keeping a human in the loop.


Creating inclusive environments

Neurodivergent individuals often face challenges in communication and navigation of societal norms. AI can serve as a bridge across these gaps, enabling them to participate and contribute more effectively.

The perspective gained from our professional experience emphasizes the role of AI-driven adaptations led by neurodivergent minds. Such initiatives can foster inclusive workplaces, educational settings, and communities. AI can automate tasks, adjust workspaces to accommodate sensory sensitivities, and improve communication clarity. Moreover, AI can provide personalised support in education, creating immersive environments for skills development and academic success. This approach, centred on unique perspectives and experiences, often results in services and products that benefit everyone.


Ethical considerations

While embracing the potential of AI, it’s crucial to navigate its use with ethical considerations in mind. This includes addressing privacy, consent, and algorithmic biases to ensure responsible and equitable use. Additionally, there’s a call to develop and nurture neurodivergent individuals within the workforce, recognising their diverse strengths..


Unlocking potential through inclusion

These strengths could be encouraged still further through the potential of AI to unlock the brilliance of neurodivergent minds, who often approach problems from unique angles. With approximately 20% of the population falling under the ‘neurodiverse umbrella’, existing solutions to learning delivery usually fall short. Imagine the impact of this population segment having equitable access to education and opportunities. AI can offer stepping stones to equity, assisting with navigation, drafting, memory aids, and more. These solutions are not just hypothetical; they already exist and are within reach.


Overcoming fear and bias

Addressing the fear around AI, especially in aiding neurodiverse communities, is crucial. Society, as it stands, is not always accommodating to those with differences. Bias exists within education systems and society at large. However, AI, when used thoughtfully, can help eliminate these injustices. The conversation must shift towards finding the balance between fear and progress, leveraging AI to create a more inclusive and equitable society.


AI and neurodivergent minds: A perfect match

For neurodivergent individuals like ourselves, AI represents a canvas upon which we can design and deliver functions that cater to diverse needs. AI networks and neurodivergent minds excel at identifying patterns and solving problems outside conventional frameworks. This synergy presents immense possibilities for innovation and problem-solving.


Choosing optimism and potential

In conclusion, the discussion advocates deploying new technologies like AI to create a better society and address contemporary challenges. While change can be daunting, the authors choose optimism and potential over fear. AI, in collaboration with neurodivergent minds, can lead humanity into the next stage of the human experience. As we navigate this evolving landscape, the emphasis remains on inclusivity, ethics, and leveraging technology for the collective good.

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