‘The structures we have in place aren't the only ones that work’

Workplaces can be harsh for the neurodiverse. Through learning about her ADHD, podcast host and photographer Nora Nord realized how many jobs offer a one-size-fits-all set-up, which is the opposite of what others like her may need.
Nora Nord 16x9 hero

Based in London, Nora Nord is a freelance videographer, photographer and podcast host of You & Me: Let's Talk About ADHD. Here, she talks about her personal experiences of working when you're neurodivergent.

How were you diagnosed?

A. ‘I didn't know as a child that I had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It was when I went to university and started taking classes that I wasn't interested in. I'd find myself in the library for hours at a time, forcing myself to do something, and I wouldn't get a single thing done. I'd think, “I'm just lazy.” It became a moral judgment. Then I watched a documentary about college students abusing Adderall, and they described what ADHD was. I felt like this was the answer for me – everything clicked into place.’

How has your experience with the professional world been?

A. ‘Before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I thought I'd never be able to hold down a job, because I'm just going to be fired from everything – especially if I'm not interested in it, and because I have such a hard time finishing projects. I'm really privileged that my dad's an entrepreneur, so I grew up around him being his own boss, and with an example of not having to work for someone, but building something yourself. It was after the end of the lockdown in 2020 that I started to think about how I can live my life structured around my brain. Moving into video work, making the podcast, doing ADHD portraits, making fashion films and making advertisement films – now, this is what feels right.’

What are the biggest lessons you learned?

A. ‘Hire, work or collaborate with people who are good at the things that you're bad at or hate doing. Spend time learning about ADHD and how it manifests in yourself. Figure out what you're good at and how you can incorporate doing more of what you love in your everyday life. Learn what your accessibility needs are. Workplaces and society, in general, are still geared toward neurotypical brains. It falls on us as individuals to advocate for ourselves and our needs. The pandemic has shown that it's not only neurodivergent people who want to work outside the nine to five: it's better if you're a woman, or you have kids; it's better if you have any form of disability. It's shown that the structures we have in place aren't the only ones that work. I really hope that workplaces are able to recognize that people have different needs and wants, regardless of whether you have ADHD or not.’

For our ‘25 big lessons from small business’ series, we scoured the world to find inspiring people to share the lessons they've learned from running their own companies. Click here to read the other stories.

This special feature was first published in Courier issue 45, February/March 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

You might like these, too