Episode 10

Published on:

19th Jan 2021

Neurodiversity in Cybersecurity – Tiffany Jameson

People who are Neurodiverse often struggle working at organizations that are not always friendly and often need to wear masks to fit in. Nathan Chung interviews Tiffany Jameson, Managing partner at Grit & Flow, Co-Founder at the NDGiFTS Movement, and Managing Partner at Cognitive Diversity. She shares her personal stories, insights on Neurodiversity at companies and society, and her initiatives to fight for change. Listen and be inspired.

"What's gonna feel better is you hired me because of everything I have in me and what I've been through."



Hi, welcome to the NeuroSec podcast where we unite people and organization to support and advance Neurodiverse people in cybersecurity and beyond to make the world more diverse and inclusive. My name is Nathan Chung and today my special guest is Tiffany Jameson. She is managing partner at Grit & Flow, Co-Founder at the NDGiFTS Movement, and Managing Partner at Cognitive Diversity. Welcome Tiffany.


Thank you. Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.


Yep. Great. First, tell me more about Grit & Flow, the NDGiFTS Movement, and the Cognitive Diversity.


Well, Grit & Flow is my company. I started it about three years ago when I was finishing up my master's. And when I was finishing my master's, I was doing a capstone program on, a new business plan. So I ended up doing it on something related to Autism since I have an Autistic son. And I found out about the 85% unemployment rate and I literally fell off my chair and I was like, holy bleep bleep bleep. This is not okay. I am still not okay with this. So what am I going to do about it? And at that point, I researched and I realized there, there are no answers, no one knows anything. So I started Grit & Flow without really knowing what it was going to end up being, but really just wanting to improve the employment outcomes for individuals with Autism. So I did that and then I also decided to get into a PhD program in Organizational Psychology. So the Organizational Psychology and research really fuels Grit & Flow, because we're all research based on trying to help companies change the way they're pretty much the way they're, they're working. We don't want to do a hiring initiative, we want to say, okay, how are we going to change our onboarding, our processes, everything else? So people can come to work, be themselves. Our big thing is how do you work best? So we want employers to go: hey, Tiffany, how do you work best? Let's give you what you need to work best. And I feel it takes away the need to disclose, or the way need to put everybody in a bucket about, you know, they need this because they're Autistic, they need this because they're a female in technology, or whatever it may be. So that's kind of where our passion goes. So with NDGiFTS Movement, I was recruited by Ronan McGovern, who is a Stanford graduate school graduate. He decided to take this eight week sprint, they were calling it at the Stanford Rebuild, which was a project they started to get people thinking it in differently when it came to COVID. So anybody can be involved. So Ronan took about 10 weeks off of his banking job in Ireland and started talking to everybody in the world regarding Neurodiversity. And that point, he eventually talked to me one day, and he said, You're the Yin to my Yang, and those are my words. But we, we have complementary skills. I knew more of the Neurodiversity population, and he focused more on kind of the the passion, he was very passionate about it. And we went from trying to come up with a product to deciding to do a paper. And the paper ended up having 27 authors around the country that never knew each other working together. And we created. Yeah, it was, it was like probably my most exciting experience of my life. Because we, we, we decided to write it in three voices. So we'd have a business case, then we had a lot of people that were Neurodivergent that we're writing. And then we had, I led a team that wrote about the research that we think can be done to really show the innovative brain of Neurodivergence. But my favorite part of the process was these townhall reviews we had, so we would throw you know, something we were writing about intersectionality. We'd invite anybody to come that was in this big network that we created. And we would go through the paper. And we would go through the sections. And we would talk and say I don't agree with that, or I don't like that you use people of color. I want to be called Black. There's a lot of, you know, stuff in the, you know, culture. So we would talk with all this diverse stakeholders from all over the world, with all different, you know, opinions, and we would walk through each issue, and at least we could address them and pull them together. But how often can you get a group of international people being frank and honest. I mean, it was it was lovely that we did this. So we got the paper out. Bank of America supported the paper, so did AIB bank in Ireland. And from there, it was kind of what do we do next? So we've broken into regions to allow us to have a you know, all the different time zones we're dealing with to have meetings where they can be more quaint. So we have a European chapter, we have an Asia Pacific chapter, a North American chapter, and we are just starting South America. So they put on their own kind of education series and talk. But we still have a global effort to do more. So what we're doing is starting projects, and they're not going to be like a big paper like we did, they're going to be smaller projects. So what I'm leading is called Contextual Factors. So we're looking at the leadership, leadership of Neurodivergent, including Neurodivergence between leaders. We're looking at not going from hiring initiatives, but looking for more systemic systemic change within the process. So kind of things like that we have some people are looking at Neurodivergence in academia. We have others that are looking for or looking at environmental factors, like physical environmental factors that impact workplaces, such as building designs and things like that.


So it's interesting.


Yeah, it's, it's, it's pretty cool. So if you go to NDGiFTSmovement.com, you can find out all about it. And my last little gig I'm doing this Cognitive Diversity is, is a company I started with Larry Rothman. We met through the Stanford design thinking workshop hosted by Lawrence Fung and the Stanford Neurodiversity project. Our team won this whole design thinking peer review in we had come up with a Neurodiversity inclusion index. So we're finding ways to take that and really make it a product product that can be relied upon. So it would allow individuals who are neurodivergent to rate companies on certain factors that are deemed successful. So for things that are important to someone who's Neurodivergent, you don't usually find if you go to indeed.com. You know, but we had, we have different needs are that way you guys have different needs. But I consider myself adopted. So he would be able to look and say, hey, I need a company that's got flexible work policy, and offers accommodations to interviews easily. Who's had this experience that's been good? And we would be able to rate them and be like, okay, I want to go apply at that company, because they seem to already have their act together for the things I need to be successful. Instead of trying to break down barriers. And we are hoping that they will create a way for companies to want to be an inclusive want to score high on this index. And that will hopefully lead to really big change. So we're working on all that right now with some partners, and we're hoping to get something kind of figured out by the end of the year. Where we have a baseline to to use, and then we can kind of grow off of that. So those are, those are some of the projects I'm in.


Wow, that's incredible. Where do you find the energy?


I'm very energetic. I don't, I don't sit still very well. I like I like to think I'm very curious and I love to learn and I love people. So it just kind of comes naturally


Incredible. And taking it to the next point. Cybersecurity is often cited as being a great potential career fit for people who are who have Neurodiverse conditions. What are your thoughts?


Yes, I mean, I think any job is good for somebody with Neurodivergent conditions. Cybersecurity, I think it's attractive because. I think the Neurodivergence are are extremely curious. And I'm, it's more from an Artistic standpoint. And with my son with Autism and my dissertations on Autism. I mean, I focus on Neurodiversity in general, but Autism, I know really, really well. And not everybody is going to fit into that. But there are groups and there could just look at problems so well, and look at the big picture and process things. And I think you need that type of unique perspective, because you're trying to guess what people may be doing in the future now. And so I think you need that innovation of thought, which I think a lot of Neurodivergence have. So I do think it's a great career. I don't think it's a career for everybody. I know so many people who are Neurodivergent that are, we have one technology phobic, you know, or, or, you know, they're artistic, you know, things like that. So I'm, I'm careful not to stigmatize that people, only people that are Neurodivergent are cybersecurity, but I do think there are many that find happiness in doing that because there are some innate skills in many Autistics that that make that popular.


And I agree with that point because when I heard how heard at first, how great a fit it is. For how Cybersecurity can really fit for people who are Neurodiverse. I thought the same as you eventually because many of our fellow advocates in the Neurodiversity space. They say that yep. Some people who are Neurodiverse can be really good at Cybersecurity, but at the same time, we should not pigeonhole them, so to speak. It's like a wide range. Some people can might be good at things like art or music much better.


Yeah, I think it's like how can you any human being or class of humans, we all have multiple dimensions. You can't pigeonhole. Let's see, I'm a Hispanic, white-ish female. Don't pigeonhole me into something. I was a programmer, you know, in high school, you know, and I went to high school in the, gosh, I don't want to tell you, but I graduated in the early 90s. I was probably the only varsity song leader going to take the AP Computer Science test. You know, people are looking at me, and this is like Turbo Pascal days.


I remember Pascal,


Yeah I love Turbo Pascal, why can't Turbo Pascal come back?


But um, you know, I mean, it was it was, people were stereotyping me, they expected a certain thing out of me. And when I, you know, walked away in my little cheerleader skirt to go take an AP Computer Science exam. I was like: don't don't put me in a bucket you know.


I went to high school back in the 90s as well. So.


Okay, I feel better.


So next question. One of the biggest barriers facing Neurodiverse workers today is the negative stigma and it makes it makes it a difficult decision to disclose one's condition or not? How do you feel about about disclosure?


I think disclosure is the number one issue, the number one issue. So I always talk about three things that I in most of my presentations that I think are really causing the complexity of the employment equality equation. One is disclosure. But because of the consealable nature of Neurodivergent people, and you know, a lot of most disabilities, even 96% of disabilities are also concealable. So you just put all that together. I think that creates a challenge, because people don't, you know, assume they, they need help. So a lot of the research I'm doing right now, is showing that employers would rather hire somebody with a physical disability than a mental disability.


Hmm. I've never heard of that before.


A ton are psychiatric, and I think it's because it's what they don't know. And so when someone just needs, you know, not just but someone needs a ramp, or someone's low vision, those things are easier, I think, for someone to process in their head, on how they can help and how to talk to it. But what do you run into things such as the way someone thinks differently or applies a problem. It's scary for people because they don't know.


Yeah, I totally agree with that. Because it it's like tangible versus intangible.


Totally, totally. It's like, how do you put your and and, you know, I think that creates a challenge to concealable with disclosures because it really does end up being on the individual to disclose. And right now, the education, there's so much education that needs to be done in the employment area, on on really the range of Neurodivergent people. The Koch occurring, we talk a lot about, you know, you know, ADHD is this, but a lot of people with ADHD have anxiety. And, you know, we try to talk about, you know, you're looking at somebody and you're making conclusions, not about their ADHD. You're making conclusions about their anxiety. But do you know, that the environment you're putting them in, or is making them be disabled. They would be fine in the right environment, they wouldn't become disabled because of their ADHD. They're becoming disabled because of the world they're trying to work in, which is causing their system to overload, which is causing their resources to get drained, which is causing anxiety and burnout. So if we can get people creating environments, where we don't have to, to burn out, and we don't, you know, we can kind of embrace more of those way with we work, we all work different then I think we're going to have, you know, people who don't have to disclose then. And then at the same time, I think identity is an important thing. Right now, the way the laws are written for the ADA and the ADAA, it falls under disability. And I know a number of people and research that tells me, I do not identify as being disabled. I am not broken. I don't have, you know, something wrong with me that I need to be accommodated. I have, you know, a different way I think of things which is not something that's wrong with me. So that's kind of the Neurodiversity Movement, but if you don't identify as being, you know, Autistic, and you don't identify as having a disability, are you going to go say I need accommodation through the ADA? I think it just it's so complex in those things. And that's why, you know, Grit & Flow, we really talk about how can we take away those barriers of disclosure identity, and the considerable nature of a lot of people's impairments, for lack of a better word. It's by allowing everybody to say, how do I work best? Giving everybody that? So that that's how I feel about that. I really think it's a huge, huge, huge substantial barrier right now for employment.


Yep, it is. Because in my experience, many workplaces still follow traditional management styles that are rather structured, and they follow a command and control model, similar to a factory. As such, typical management practices expect a certain amount of productivity from each worker that Neurodiverse workers often fail to meet, this puts them at a clear disadvantage. It's like comparing apples to oranges almost. How do you feel?


Oh, yeah, I mean, I, I understand, you know, I am a business person. And you know, I have an MBA. So I understand the bottom line. And I think the challenge is, is we're thinking we have to get to the bottom line and a certain lot. We take a straight line there. But I think if we embrace people, we're going to get more out of them than we thought. So instead of taking that energy to go through a process that's been traditional. Taking the energy to grow your people to be who they need to be, you're going to really see the benefits in that bottom line. I mean, if you think one thing, so somebody, this is research and talking to people. The retention rates for Neurodivergents that feel they're in a good environment and supported and getting what they need is ridiculous. They will stay in a job. Where normal turnover is higher. So to turnover somebody depending on the position could be two to three times their salary, annual salary. So that means if you can make some of those changes, which really are more culture changes than anything or supplying some accommodations, you can save so much money as a company, and it will pay for itself over and over and over again. And I don't think companies really understand that. But I gotta say, I gotta admit something lately. So I have a team of three, and all of them are Neurodivergent. And as we grow, I am exhausted trying to, to take what they're saying and and think about it and put it into how they really mean and how their minds working and translate it into the way that my mind used to working to figure out where we're at. And I was last week, hit me, it just, it really hit me as I was pretty exhausted from managing my team, which is great, because we're doing a lot of great stuff. Then I started thinking, this is what they feel every day. This is what they feel in every situation in their life. It's taking what everybody else is saying and trying to figure out what they really mean.


Yeah, we're lost in translation.


Yeah, totally. And I was like, oh, my gosh, you know, like, this is the best thing I've ever done is to have this team, because they are teaching me so much. And so when, you know, when I talk to companies, and I talk to people, I am, like, practicing what I preach. And and it's, you know, it's, it's not undoable, it's just you have to make the effort, the conscious effort that you want to embrace people in general.


You know what, that's a very good point, because at the end of the day is, we can say what we want, but we can't, it all comes down to each individual person making that choice.


It does. I mean, you have to, as a manager, decide you're going to put your ego aside. And you're going to figure out how to manage this individual the way they need to be managed. And, you know, when you work with people who are Neurodivergent, many of them are not going to do impression management is the technical term. I call it butt kissing, you know, or, except working on my LinkedIn learning training. I'm like, how do we say butt butt kissing in an inappropriate way? But it was we had a good laugh over that one. But you know, you're not going to find a lot of butt kissing, you're not going to find a lot of sugarcoating. And it's refreshing if you get past the fact that that stuff really isn't that important. Like I love it. Now that we get to the point we get things done. It's, it's awesome. But it's different than what we're used to. Yeah, so you just kind of got to learn to adjust to it. And be willing to


Yes, indeed. And that the that that transitions us to our next point, because things get harder because leaders often follow thinking such as: if it ain't broke, why fix it? Or this is how things have always been done or even because any attempts to disrupt the status quo at many companies are often challenged even more so for Neurodiversity. And I think it's at the end. And quite simply, change is hard. Really hard.


Change is hard. I mean, that's why we believe strongly that being, you know, business or organizational psychologists, and working on that change is so important. I mean, that's why I'd be getting my PhD in it. Because change is hard. And, you know, it ain't broke, why fix it? It's broken, everybody, it's broken. Why is there so much focus on culture? Why is there so many mental health challenges? It's because it's broken. And, you know, we're, if you think about this, and the World Health Organization reports that 15% of humanity is disabled in some way, in the traditional definition of disabled, which means Neurodiversity would fall underneath it. So that means that 15%, you just think about this, in some ways. 15% of your workforce is probably going to be disabled. So if you don't change, you're now losing the opportunity to get talent. And talent is, is what you need. You don't have a company if you don't have people. And as much as we talk about AI or anything else, someone's got a program, their AI, someone's got a maintenance the AI, whatever it is, we need people. And so if you're not changing the way you're doing things to, to to support a good portion of the population, your company is going to fail. And it's just growing and growing and growing. And we were seeing like 700,000, people in the next five years are going to graduate with Autism that need jobs.




And also you think about the pool on our society. So the broken thing is, if we don't give people jobs that deserve jobs, they're going to try to be reliant on a system in our society that we're all going to end up paying for. And then it's going to, you know, it just it spirals into negativity and bad outcomes for our economy, for people. You know, for our youth, moving forward. We need healthy people reproducing great citizens. And if you have people that can never get to that part in their life, you know, what's going to happen to us? I know that's kind of an extreme example, but you know, it, there are consequences to things.


Yes. And it is true, it's definitely true. But people don't think about, in fact, at companies, when a Neurodiverse worker ask for accommodations, many organizations, just they just see a broken disabled worker who can't keep up with everyone else. And accommodation equals increased costs. So how would you address this line of thinking? And how do you how would you change an organization's outlook on that?


Well, research says, and you'll hear me say it a lot. The average accommodation is $300 or $500, like under $500. So there's not a whole lot that needs to be done. If it isn't assistive technology, most of the time, the individual has the assistive technology they bring with them. A lot of the basic Microsoft and Apple have so much built into them now that by just embracing what you already have in your your toolbox at work, you're gonna have a lot of things to accommodate people maybe just need to learn to use them. Or you just have to have your IT department enable them, something like that. So I think, you know, that's kind of what I say with the accommodations is don't be intimidated by it. But what some research has shown us is that coworkers who can't see that somebody has, you know, Cognitive Diversity, or an impairment or whatever you want. If they see somebody else getting something that they don't get, even though it's just kind of making that equal playing field, that whole procedural justice they call it is like, why are they getting what I'm not getting? And, and why are they getting help? Why are there you know, why is my quota lower than their quota lower than mine, why is this? And it becomes a toxic part to the culture, because the businesses haven't taken the time, or given that individual an opportunity to get what they need to work best. So if they felt that they had what they need to work best, and were given the opportunity to say that they are not going to judge somebody who's Neurodivergent concealing their identity for getting what they need.


That's an interesting point, and thank you for bringing that up. I myself never thought about it that way.


Yeah, I mean, you know, it comes down to it. We all you know, we always want to say like, what do you have? I want some of that. I mean, it goes back to when my son was a baby, not baby. When he was young and being diagnosed, and we were getting services through our school district. You know, people always like how many hours behavioral therapy do you get? How many hours of speech did you get and I'm like: he got what he needs back off. It's not it's not a contest. You know, it's we all get what we need to do what we need to do and so many people are worried about being cheated. And so once again, if you provide that opportunity to every person, half the time, they won't even ask for anything, but they feel empowered to ask. And that will get rid of some of these, you know, ill feelings between, you know, co-workers and managers and people getting stuff. It's just not that complicated in that area.


Hmm, those are very good points. And I also appreciate that you brought up the how. Since Neurodiversity tends to be invisible, I think you're right, employers, they tend to focus more on the physical disabilities. And if it's something they can't see, they can't process that.


Yeah. And it's hard to process because if you think about, you know, every person, you know, who's Neurodivergent, they're not, they're not the same. And the way that the you know, conditions or whatever affects an individual is totally different. It depends on their upbringing. And it's also the environment, they're in. The environment you're in, maybe home, friends, work is so greatly impacts an a person's ability to be strong and to, to be able to cope, like the coping strategies that come in. And we all cope, but we all have coping strategies, but to what extent, and what cost are you paying to, to do these coping, and that's the thing that it has to be a happy balance between, you know, everybody meeting in the middle, and people getting what they need. So they're not, you know, they're not breaking themselves. So we all have to conform a little bit. I have to conform, you have to conform, we often meet in the middle.


You know, and I totally agree with that, too. Because at the end of the day, we're all different. We're not a single say a perfect model, we're all different. And I think at the end of the day, every single manager out there, they just have to adjust to everyone's differences and instead of Neurodiversity being equals to disabled, just accept the differences of that one person.


Like we try to, we're moving into talking more about or moving away from the Neurodiversity term, to Cognitive Diversity. The way we're doing that is because right now, there's all this focus on, you know, color, race, and gender, which, yes, the focus needs to be on that too. But if all these companies are putting this money and effort into looking at those areas, they're really missing out on disabilities and Neurodiversity. And the thing that stresses me out and keeps me up at night, is the fact that disability and Neurodiversity, do not care what color you are, they do not care what gender you are, they don't care what race you are, they don't care what social economic class you are. They're there for everybody. So by not addressing these, when we look at diversity, we look at inclusion in organizations. We're not doing it right.


Yes, that's sadly true.


Yeah. So you know, we're missing out on so many people. And so when we talk about Cognitive Diversity, we try to look at kind of, we're working on a visual and it's challenging, but if you think about a person and really embracing their whole self, the whole person. So that means you know, the way I did think differently, the way my life experiences from you know, for me growing up in Hispanic and white neighborhoods and and what my parents did, and the education I was able to get and, you know, almost getting my butt kicked every day in junior high for looking white. You know, like all these little experiences, you know, having a son diagnosed with Autism at two, having a daughter with ADHD, you know, all those things have created me as a person.




And you can't take out one of those things. That's who's I am. And so if you're not embracing all that part of me, then you're not embracing me. And so it doesn't matter if you hire me because I'm female, you hire me because I have a tech degree. You know, you hire me because I'm, you know, part minority. That stuff isn't gonna make me feel better. What's gonna feel better is you hired me because of everything I have in me and what I've been through. But it's hard for people to comprehend. So we're trying to show a graphic to talk about that more. And it is, you know, we're all talking about this graphic and man, it's hard. It's still out there, so you know how to run it by you too Nathan because I it's. I think it's important though, because I just think we're wasting so much energy and money on initiatives instead of actual change.


Yep. One analogy I sometimes like to use is kind of like, imagine a statue statue of a person just made of glass, colorless, can't tell the age or anything. Just respect that person as a person, and because we're all different. And I think glass can potentially represent that.


Yeah, I mean, seriously, I mean, we're all human beings. And I know, you know, I'm not I'm not discrediting any of the movements going on now by saying that, but the problems wouldn't be here, if we would have looked at that in the first place. How about that. So we always talk about deconstructing the model of disability. You know, it's almost deconstructing discrimination in some ways too. We created these things, as a society, so we can uncreate them.




Let's un-create this whole disability model. Because it has its place, but it's been overdone, and it's just not being used correctly. And it's not necessarily empowering people. And that's what it was supposed to do.


And, you know what, that's a good point. Because with COVID especially, we are literally going through one of the biggest changes in in our current point of history. So why not take advantage of that? Like when things are disrupted, the door opens to change. How about we make changes right now?


Yeah. And you make a good point. But I think, at the beginning of COVID, we saw just a scramble.




Pure scramble you know, and I was sitting doing a workshop on interviewing, and everybody's like,:how do I interview with COVID? How do I do like, like, you know, what we don't know. So, you know, I've been researching this topic, because we're gonna have a section on remote working, and how to manage nNurodivergent employees when they are working remote in my LinkedIn training, recording. And, you know, I think the problem is this another stigma that's come up is, oh, you know, I'm gonna use Autistic again, Autistic people don't like, you know, a human interaction. They don't like, you know, coming into the office, because it's too hard on them. They love this remote working, so this is perfect for them. And I don't think that's always the case. I think a lot of people are lonely. And I think that there's that happy medium, once again, that compromise of being able to not be taxed, but also have human relationships. People think people with Autism are robots. And they don't require attention. I mean, my son's opposite. That guy, we had to say Space Invader, because he wanted to hug all the time, and everybody else, he's just a love bug. You can't, you know, you can't generalize that. So that's what I'm seeing now is there's so many organizations saying, oh, people are so much happier, working remotely, especially, you know, people who are Autistic who don't, like social interaction, and I'm like, Whoa, you can't generalize again. You know, I have one kid who works remotely and is doing great, I have another kid working remotely, who is miserable, and having such a hard time focusing, and is not getting their needs met. So how can we say this is going to work for everybody, so we're going to have to have some kind of hybrid model that's going to allow people to, to decide what's best for them. We can't give up all our offices, people need human interactions. And you know, and this isn't gonna work this, you know, virtual thing for everybody.


Yep. And that's a very good point. And it goes back to what we were talking about before, where people are all different. Everyone has different needs. And the other piece is there is a common perception about Neurodiverse conditions that conditions such as Autism, primarily effects like white, mostly men only, resulting in many, many women going undiagnosed or ignored. What do you think can be done to raise awareness for for women, who have Neurodiverse conditions?


Well, now that you happen to mention that we are ripping off the band aids in March at Grit & Flow, so we started doing a monthly social media campaigns and so this month is about showing real people who are Neurodivergent talking about their challenges to getting employment, the barriers and the current process and then the enablers. Next month we're working on inclusion. In March, we are doing all women. It is all about women who are Neurodivergent. We are not holding back. And, you know, I think what got me and I kind of gave the reins to one of my teammates Nicole, who's a female, late diagnosed Neurodivergent. Because I kept talking to people and a lot of women who were late diagnosed, and all I kept hearing is about rape and being taken advantage of because they didn't understand and I started thing, how can we change this from the employment standpoint? I mean, I'm not, you know, how can I do this in my realm. And I said, if we can inform people that work in organizations about this, and they can start informing their employees, and we can start training them on what, you know, Autism looks like, what ADHD looks like, and being aware of these things to help with co- workers, then maybe there's a chance they can identify that their daughter or son has it earlier. Early intervention and start teaching them to protect themselves in some ways, because I don't see it happening as much. I mean, it still happens, I'm not ignorant to that. The people who are diagnosed and have some protections or have learned some things. What I'm hearing is the people that had no idea, and they were trying to fit in so hard, and what they've had to go through with the abuse. It's just it breaks my heart, it just makes me sick. So we're changing it. We're making everybody aware. We don't care where they live.


Amazing. Because you're you're absolutely right, because the stories I hear are similar, and I think it comes down to also like, remember the part where we talked about how a lot of girls, women, they just don't know, because they spend their lives essentially wearing a mask, and trying this trying to fit in each day. And that alone is exhausting. And the end result we, we added into that as well. Things like culture, pressure from parents, pressure from society, it's a lot for some people, like men and women to do each day. And sadly, especially in certain countries that it does the two things like suicide or, or leads to many, many years of depression and anxieties. Like we got we have we as a society, we need to do more to address it as it at an early age, like you said,


Yeah, and I think the culture thing is a big thing. I mean, we talk a lot about cultures and acceptance in the cultures. And it's harder for some I mean, I I definitely know it's harder for men to adapt to a, a son that has Autism or anything else. But you know, when we first, my husband, Tom and I, when Jake got diagnosed, at two years four months, we were at this used to be called for OC kids this place, and they were just starting a parent support group. And I think we got diagnosed on Thursday, and the first support group was on Tuesday, and we showed up. And they took us through the fact that we were going through a process of grieving. And it doesn't matter who you are, you have hopes and dreams for your kids. And, you know, you're always relating them to your personal experiences you've had in your life. And, you know, will they do this? And will they do that, and going to this right away, made us say you have to let go of all that and embrace who they are now, and you don't know what that is. But you need to let yourself mourn, that. They're not going to be that traditional kid. You gotta mourn that, and then you got to be able to move on.


You know, that's an interesting point. And I think a message like that that needs to go out to parents, because that, I never even thought about that before. But that sounds tremendously beneficial.


Yeah, I mean, we do we, I mean, it's not bad to have hopes and dreams a certain way. It's, because that's my experience. That's my world that I grew up in. So I expect, you know, you'd have similar thoughts as me, it's my child. And what we've learned, you know, as parents, especially parents of Neurodivergent kids is there a lot of ways nothing like us. And we have to embrace them for who they are and what makes them happy, not what makes us happy. And it's not easy. I mean, Tom and I try really, really hard. Really, really hard, but we're not perfect at it. And but, you know, I mean, I think that going through that right away after diagnosis for us, really made all the world of difference. And we dove in and got Jake whatever he needed to make sure he had the best opportunity to have a successful life. And I am proud to say he graduated high school and college prep in May, he's going to Chapman University. He's using his passion, his flow. You know, he's he's doing video game design and creative writing, because he loves all of those and wants to put it together. You know, not without his challenges, but he's kicking butt. And I think it's because we embraced him, and we got him what he needed. So I hope that for every kid, for every person,


That's incredible. And I think it goes back to what we were talking about before. We just got to identify the differences in each individual person, like stop categorize categorizing people to like normal versus not normal. Just embrace, identify the differences and just embrace them.


Yeah. I mean, it's, it's hard to even like we use the word Neurotypical and it's like, no one's no one's Neurotypical here from you know, it's like, I know, I just said meant non Neurodivergent, but what does it really mean? Like how I don't even know, like, how to talk about this stuff. And I do this, you know, 24 hours a day between my home life, my dissertation, and my work. The language in the wording to make everybody happy is, is impossible. So, you know, I should have started this whole podcasting. I'm sorry, if I offend you by for referring to you to wait. Like I'm doing my best. You know. And I think that's, that's the hard part too, in this this group is we're we're all trying to figure out what we want to be as a group, a society of different thinkers. And since a lot of the skills we have doesn't don't really conform well, it's hard to have that compromise to a point. So there's going to be challenges. And, you know, I think that's a learning opportunity for all of us.


Yes, yes, indeed. Okay, because one thing I dream about is, I'm waiting for the day when where people just like me, who's actually Autistic. I'm waiting for the day when people like me can take take off the mask and just live in a society and world where differences, my differences, and differences of people everywhere can just be respected. And like, I really appreciate with how you describe it, where it's not about being disabled. It's about differences. And we just got get accepted.


Yeah. And, yeah, and I think, you know, and this is easy for me to say, so I totally get that. But if people start taking off their masks, and being honest, and people will learn, and that's kind of one thing we're doing with our interviews and in our videos, in the Grit & Flow series is we want you to see, look at this beautiful young lady who's so articulate, who is also Autistic. You know, look at this, you know, that, you know, this man who's, you know, he's African American black person of color, whoever he, you know, prefers to be called, yes, he has Autism too. It happens. Believing they're not just all white males. And but look how articulate he is, but understand his challenges and how it affects him. Have you ever thought about it that way? And so we want to show people what Neurodivergent people look like, and they look just like everybody else.


Exactly. Yes. That's a beautiful message.




Okay, and we're about out of time and thank you Tiffany, for your time today. Appreciate it.


Yeah, it was fun. I always like talking about this stuff. I'm very passionate about it. So I appreciate the opportunity to share my vision with you.


And thank you for everything you do. Sounds like you're involved with many initiatives and incredible initiatives all over the world. Thank you.


Yeah. Well, I try. Hopefully, we'll do some good stuff. Yep. Thank you. Thanks.

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On a mission to flip the script on Neurodiversity in Cybersecurity, Technology, Society, and Culture
Uniting people and organizations to support and advance Neurodiverse people in Cybersecurity.

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Nathan Chung