In this episode, Dr Craig Poku (he/they) are joined by the brilliant Dr Matt Frost (he/him). The discussion focuses on the additional struggles of navigating academia and a science career as someone who is neurodivergent as well as the solutions the academy could take to create a more inclusive environment.
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00:00:01 Craig Hi, I’m Dr Craig Poku, and you are listening to the Pride in STEM Podcast, a series that explores the different barriers faced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community. As scientists, we are always taught that numbers and objectivity are the solutions to address problems faced by society. However, storytelling is just as important, especially when it comes to ensuring equality for marginalised communities. Through this series, I hope that you, the listener, will come away with a new insight into what these barriers are and discover pragmatic ways to help us overcome them. In today’s episode, I’ll be talking with Dr Matt Ross about what it’s like to work in STEM. Whilst being neuro divergent, completing a PhD is no easy task, and when someone is neurodivergent, it can make that task that a little bit harder. Here we spoke about Matt’s career journey, the barriers that he faced along the way, and what he’s learned from his experience. Part of the reason why we wanted to do a topic on neurodivergency—neurodivergency in STEM, is because it’s one of those things where it’s directly impacted me on several occasions. So that’s going to come into a conversation.
00:01:03 Matt [laughs]
00:01:03 Craig But whoever’s listening to this, just give me chaotic podcasts. I’m going to be fine. Firstly, hi. [laughs]
00:01:08 Matt Hello.
00:01:08 Craig So welcome to the Pride In Stem Podcast. I am very excited to have Dr Matt Frost with us.
00:01:14 Matt I’m very excited for it. Yeah, I don’t really get to talk about this very much, so it’s perfect. Well, I try to, but my friend just like blank faces and they stop listening, so.
00:01:22 Craig Okay. Well not, so let’s start, shall we? Okay. So could you give us like, like a brief background of who you are?
00:01:29 Matt Yeah. So I’ve come from like quite a varied background, which I think is very typical of somebody with ADHD. That’s my neurodiversity. I have, combination type ADHD, diagnosed last year. It was very aware that I hit all, if not at least ninety per cent of the like measures that they used to diagnose. as a result of my ADHD, I’ve had a very colourful history and background of everything from body piercer, hairdresser, bar manager, events manager, public engagement, and then obviously a PhD in molecular plant sciences as well. So it’s been a wow varied history. And then after figuring out that what I wanted to do, I couldn’t do without any formal kind of qualification. I went in and out of, college picking up random things from nursing qualifications, psychology qualifications, seeing what I wanted to do. And fell into science. Like I had no intention of studying science and then I did. [laughs] And then every step of the way I was like, “Okay, I’m going to do an undergraduate. I’m not going to do a Master’s. And then I was like, “Okay, well I’m going to do a master’s, but I’m not going to do a PhD.” I was like, “Okay, I’m going to do a PhD, but I’m not going to postdoc.” Then after my postdoc I’m like, “Well, let’s just see what happens. [laughs] Let’s learn that lesson.”
00:02:49 Craig So, fortunately the audience cannot see a visual cue of this podcast, but if they did, they would basically be seeing me googling the whole time. Because whenever somebody asks me me, but my career history it legitimately sounds very similar. I [laughs] fell into meteorology by accident. I don’t have a master’s because I dropped out to work in government. Okay. I worked for a social media content company at one point because I was just in this weird face of just going, I just go with the vibes. [laughs]
00:03:17 Matt That’s exactly it. When I get interviewed and they say, “Oh, so what’s your five, ten-year plan? What is that? I have no idea.”
00:03:23 Craig What five, ten-year plan? I don’t even know I’m going to have for breakfast tomorrow.
00:03:26 Matt Exactly.
00:03:26 Craig Most days. I mean, I don’t eat breakfast, but that’s not the point. It’s the idea is the concept of breakfast. So before, we’ve mentioned some acronyms and we mention what neuro divergency is. Could you tell us what ADHD is and what neuro divergency is in your opinion?
00:03:43 Matt So ADHD is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s a bit misleading because it’s like hyper, everyone just assumes it’s them American kids that are like bouncing up and down off the walls and then getting medicated into a coma. And that’s a bit of a stigma that still is still around, I think. But so you used to have ADHD in ADD, but now you just have ADHD, inattentive type or hyperactive type or you can have combination type, which is what I am. Where I’m a bit of everything. Just throw it all in I part, see what happens. and that’s my flavour of neurodiversity. So I mean, I’ve met on my little travel of podcasts and books and talking to other people. There are a lot of neurodiverse people out there. Once you kind of make it a safe place for them to say they are. So now I’m looking at the neurotypicals like, well maybe you are the minority. [laughs]
00:04:34 Craig So, I mean, one question I have to ask. So I was diagnosed with autism when really young got re-diagnosed at Asperger syndrome, which is now being renamed as high functioning autism. And there are similarities to people who are high functioning autistic as well as also, people who’ve got ADHD. There is a bit of a crossover. But the term neuro diversion, I’ve only realised there’s only been quite popular in like the last few years. So I guess the question for me is, when did you come across the term neurodivergent? Because it’s something that I think that a lot of people are still, I guess, trying to get their heads around.
00:05:13 Matt Yeah. I think it was, it was very recent and it was when I started to look at getting a formal ADHD diagnosis. I started to see the term and I just associated the term with a more positive spin on a different category or categorisation. And it just like, language is evolving. So I just kind of think, “Okay. Well, that’s what that word is now. And let’s just use it.” So it was quite a recent word because I hadn’t really looked into getting an ADHD diagnosis because I was worried about, “Okay, well what does that mean if it’s on my record. Like there’s some permanent record that everyone has access to. Does it limit my future possibilities of what I can do if they find out that I technically have a neurological disorder? Like how do I navigate this?”
00:05:57 Craig I’m also aware that there are several people who are still within STEM service science technologies, engineering and maths who are probably undiagnosed and so therefore aren’t getting the required support. And of course you mentioned that you’ve only just got a diagnosis a year ago, but given your career path up until this point, that means that you’ve gone through STEM without diagnosis. Did you find that having no diagnosis caused barriers when you were trying to engage within STEM I guess?
00:06:28 Matt Absolutely. I mean, looking back now, it was definitely ADHD that was the cause of this. But not knowing what I wanted to do, but not because I didn’t want to do something, it’s because I wanted to do everything. Like, I pick up on people’s passions and, the things that they love to do really quickly. And I find it all very infectious. And that’s not to say that how I’m feeling isn’t a genuine interest and passionate at that time, but there will be something else shinier in a bit. [laughs] It’s like, I watched Ali McBeal when I was younger, I wanted to be a lawyer and then I watched something else. I wanted to be a psychiatrist. And it’s like, I just get really enthused by everything. I’m slightly envious and jealous of people that want to do one thing—
00:07:11 Craig Yes.
00:07:11 Matt —throughout their life.
00:07:12 Craig I definitely, [inaudible 00:07:13] do that so much.
00:07:15 Matt I know. I just like imagine having a path that you know you’re going to go down. And hears me like surrounded in this, like into the woods kind of situation. I have no idea where I’m going, what I’m doing, but I’m having a great time doing it. [laughs]
00:07:26 Craig I do. You get to act [inaudible 00:07:27] into the woods when in that case it goes a bit downhill from there. But, so for those Stephen [inaudible 00:07:31] fans out there. But yes. Into the woods, act two is wild. Anyways, continue. The thing is that I want to say that I’m not this chaotic in real life, but this is a lie [laughs] But you know, I’m just trying my best.
00:07:42 Matt That’s what you can do.
00:07:43 Craig Yeah. So for those who are listening, when we talk about neurodivergency, the sort of like technical terms is that neurodivergency refers to variations in human brain and cognition. For instance social ability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions. And the term neuro divergency is a relatively new term. So what we are going to do is, so we’re going to kind of dive deeper into that. So when we talk about neuro divergencies, ultimately they are neurodevelopmental the conditions that result in people’s brains being wide differently to the majority of other people’s. So examples of Neurodivergency concludes autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, and Tourette. So here we’ve spoken in this conversation that I’m on the autistic spectrum and Matt has ADHD, Matt, have you, when you got your diagnosis, did you find that these terms or this definition then became, “This now makes sense.” It was kind of at the penny that dropped moment I guess.
00:08:37 Matt Yes. It was probably one of the most validating experiences of my entire life. Suddenly there was just this thing that was now in my life that made sense of everything that came before it. It’s a really, really difficult thing to try to describe to someone. But all of these struggles that I had previously that where I just thought I was lazy, where I thought I was stupid, where I thought all these negative things about myself. Which also took away from like the little bursts of, I don’t want to say genius, but like, [laughs] the things I excelled on.
00:09:12 Craig I mean, you’ve got a PhD, I think you have to be kind of a genius to get one. I’m just saying putting that out there to the audience. [laughs]
00:09:18 Matt Yeah. Which is also a little bit cruel about ADHD is that you do get all these negative things like your time management, your executive functioning, your just inability to motivate yourself to do something. And then you’ll get little bursts where you are functioning really highly, you’re doing amazing. And it’s really cruel to see this potential and not be able to access it.
00:09:40 Craig I literally felt like you’re reading me for [inaudible 00:09:42].
00:09:42 Matt [laughs]
00:09:43 Craig This is literally my daily struggle in every way. My next question, because you obviously mentioned that you’ve had your diagnosis a year ago. So prior to that you were wandering through life with ADHD, undiagnosed. You then did a PhD, you’ve done a lot of other activities. Did you ever find that not having diagnosis prevented your engagement within STEM?
S 00:10:10 Yes. So I think studying science, because I have a very inquisitive mind and I wanted to understand how things work and be able to apply that knowledge to different projects, for example. That’s the only reason I really studied science and why I fell into science, having undiagnosed ADHD, trying to navigate what to study was really difficult. There’s no combination sciences or there are a few emerging now, but that you had to be completely devoured to one of the three big ones. And it’s like, “I don’t want to just do one of the three, I want to sll the three. Yes. Oh, gimme all the science.”
00:10:51 Craig You want all of the things.
00:10:52 Matt [laughs] All of this, yeah. And like people get very nervous I think with people whose brains work like mine specifically, where I have a lot of interests. I mean I saw the term multi potential light and I just like fell in love with it. Because yeah, I can’t do one thing. I can do lots of things very well. So like that was one of my barriers.
00:11:15 Craig [laughs] I’m only laughing because legitimately like my job at the moment is part, I’m part data scientist, part recipe writer, [laughs] they are doing completely different things which have no relation of whatsoever. And then it is interesting you mentioned that a thing about being somebody who has multiple interests. Because a lot of people then assume, “Oh, that means that you are not focused.” It’s like, “No, I’m focused. It’s just that my brain goes into about six different places.”
00:11:42 Matt Yeah, exactly. I mean, I’ve completely given up on any traditional recruitment route when I’ve been looking for jobs. Because if you tell a recruiter like, what job are you looking for? And I’m like, “Well, you know, I could go into a lab, I could go into research, I could do project management. I’ve got all this experience, I’ve got all these qualifications.” And they’re like, “Yeah, I’m not going to put you on a job because you’re going to swap for something else and I’m not going to get my commission.” I’m like, “You know what? I’m just going to do my own thing then. Go away.”
00:12:04 Craig Yeah. No. And I think that’s something that’s really important because like you were able to, without have a diagnosis, acknowledge that your brain works differently in a way that it then allowed you to go, “Okay, well I can’t engage in STEM in a very traditional manner.” [laughs] And I think that’s something that’s really important because you were able to recognise that. Had you had a diagnosis at a much earlier stage, do you think that would’ve then, I guess, made you come to the same point of your career now or do you think that you would’ve gone, “Well I’ve now got the support to be able to do the things that I want to.”
00:12:38 Matt So I don’t know, like I don’t like to look back retrospectively because I like where I’m at. And I think if anything changes, you know, like sci-fi films don’t change anything. I don’t want to do like a change of butterfly effect where I’m not where I am right now because I like where I am right now. Yeah. I mean, if the other one is like a multi-billionaire playboy, then obviously flutter, butterfly wing, flutter. [laughs]
00:13:01 Craig You wipe that door. That’s all I’m going to say
00:13:03 Matt [laughs] But, I think if I went back in time and persuaded somebody to give a diagnosis or at least assessed me when I was a child, which I was a very stereotypical ADHD child, I don’t think the support was there anyway to do anything with me other than medicate me. And as much as medication’s been great, it’s been awesome. You—the things you need and not just medication. And I wouldn’t have potentially maybe the varied experience that I’ve gotten, history that I’ve got now. So I don’t know, it would’ve made psychologically and like my mental health and upbringing would potentially have been a little bit better. Because I was misdiagnosed as having manic depression and high functioning anxiety, which I still do have, which I quite enjoy having high functioning [inaudible 00:13:55] stuff done.
00:13:57 Craig Mood. Big mood.
00:13:58 Matt Yeah. [laughs] But yeah. And I was put on all kinds of different medication growing up. And they just had really bad effects on me. And they weren’t working, but I was told that I just had to persevere and I kept going back. I was like, “No, this is not the right thing.” But since this diagnosis and this medication. Like it’s gone. I have no depression. I still have a little bit of high functioning anxiety, but I don’t want that to go. [laughs] It’s clinging on.
00:14:25 Craig Do you find—so I assume that you have like a support network around you during this whole period, because I do wonder sometimes when people have been misdiagnosed, if they don’t have that support network around them, if the outcome could be completely different. Whether that’s family, friends, people who kind of understand where they don’t fully get it, but they’re going. We can at least try to accommodate to you. Did you ever have that, I guess?
00:14:49 Matt Not really. So I was, I’m finally like a least small village. Like I think population two thousands or something
00:14:55 Craig As a Londoner that’s very tiny.
00:14:57 Matt no, it’s like basically heaven, nightclub. [laughs]
00:14:58 Craig Oh my god.
00:15:01 Craig So no, not really. Going through school they saw the good stuff that I did and they knew that that’s what I could achieve. So then I was just labelled as lazy daydreamer, like talkative, whatever. And they wouldn’t have had support there anyway.
00:15:15 Craig Mhm. But I do wonder if there is an element in that where for those people who are undiagnosed but realise that something is different, whether they can at least feel that they are getting the support through unofficial means, whether that’s through community, whether that’s through family and friends. Because I think that there is an element of positivity within your story in the sense that you were able to have a very varied career up until this point. And I do really commend you for that. And I wonder if part of the reason why you were able to do that, and I say that because I had this. I had a support network around me. I do wonder if that can also sometimes I guess have a play into it?
00:15:56 Matt Yes. Yeah. So the small village I was from, I think also being gay, I was already an outsider. So they would’ve just basically just like grouped it all together and said I was just a gay kid. Just being weird. So.
00:16:10 Craig Oh no. [laughs] Oh no.
00:16:12 Matt Yeah. Like, so it was—nothing was ever really picked up. They just assumed that I was like lashing out, like my report cards are, I actually, after I graduated my PhD, it was around GCC time when people were getting their GCC results. And I found mine. I was, because I was moving to London. And I was going through them and they were like D’s and E’s and like you could see from year seven, eight, 9nine, there were like A’s and B’s. And then nine, ten, eleven, they were like really, really bad. Like just, I wouldn’t achieve anything. [laughs] I don’t know if I, if they were more aware, I don’t even know if they knew about ADHD or what in this small town. But I do think that I was just grouped as the weird kind of gay bookworm kid
00:16:55 Craig And that’s really bad. Because I think, like for me, so I’ve spoken about this bit online, I guess in the sense that I went to a school where they claimed that I was not good enough to go to certain universities and because I’m stubborn as hell. I just went, “That I’m doing it anyway,” kind of thing. Like.
00:17:13 Matt That totally drives me. The only, I think the only reason I actually went into Master’s and PhD is because my, I mean, I don’t, I’m not from a very academically affluent family. And they don’t understand why I wanted to go in. They didn’t understand at the time where I wanted to do any kind of degree. You know, my career trajectory would’ve been working at a pipe factory, which was behind my house. But kind of turned out right but. [laughs]
00:17:39 Craig [laughs]
00:17:41 Matt So that was my career trajectory. And then I moved and every time someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m like, “Wow, let’s just watch.”
00:17:49 Craig Yeah. I think there is an aspect of stubbornness and stuff. Because obviously, like you mentioned that you did a postdoc. Where did you do your postdoc, out of curiosity?
00:17:57 Matt Imperial.
00:17:58 Craig Okay. And then after that, now you are out of academia. So what are you now doing?
00:18:04 Matt [laughs] That’s a really good question. A little bit of everything. Like I’m, I’ve seem to be quite lucky that I’ve, I’ve decided to go self-employed as a person. I don’t know how else to describe it as a consultant, I guess.
00:18:18 Craig A freelancer, an entity.
00:18:20 Matt Yeah. I like the idea of being, you know, like way back in the day when like you just had scholars that would go around and do stuff and then people would pay them. Like, that’s basically it. If you put me in any situation, I can do it. Like my brain’s a sponge. If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll figure it out. My last job was working at a startup. I needed to know how to code in a certain language. So I learned it. I needed to know how to talk to our designers and our, developers So I learned how things work and got like elbow deep in the nitty gritty of the, of like how things work engineer wise. And that’s just how my brain works. So if you put me in any situation, and also I’ve got transferable, like I feel like I’m in an job interview now.
00:19:10 Craig Oh God, I don’t want to keep that impression. I’ve also tried my best not to laugh because you said like… continue carry on.
00:19:18 Matt Yeah. So that’s basically how marketing myself is like a multi potential like consultant of things. So I had a, the first bit of work I got was a, just like a research consultancy position. Just somebody wanted some research doing and he wanted to understand how to do it better. I think. So I did it. And I keep getting work.
00:19:43 Craig But part of the reason I wanted to mention this of course is because you were an academic, I think academia are terrible when it comes to accommodating for people who are an outlier. And I say this because when people talk about academia, they treat doing a PhD rather than, “Oh, you’re doing a qualification to gain skills and then basically transfer them into other fields.” You’re doing a PhD to then become an academic. So there’s this assumption of doing really long hours and turning up the seminars where you have to engage in people that you don’t necessarily want to, or in some cases networking. A lot of these things are the reasons as to why people end up getting jobs. And it’s a still a who, you know, not a what you know, scenario. If you are neurodivergent, that can be really intimidating.
00:20:32 Matt So my experience of academia is it really depends on the day as you get, as what I’m going to be like. Like am I going to be able to go to a conference and network? I’ll let you know in the morning. [laughs] I’m either going to be a wallflower and hope that someone starts conversation with me because I’m not in a good place that day or I’m going to be the centre of attention because I’m having a manic episode. [laughs] Yeah. Like I have no idea. And that makes it very difficult to navigate networking, which is essentially how you get collaborations and you find new post positions and stuff. And then also, you know, am I going to be good at tight deadlines? No, I’m, well kind of sometimes it really depends on the day. [laughs] Like it’s very like very set in their ways. Academia is—and like assessment types. If you can, getting to the point of a PhD, you know, I don’t exam well at all. Because there’ll be something exciting happening outside a window or something and I’ve lost half an hour. Essays not great essays either, because I mean this is really ridiculous, but one of my exams was an essay exam.
00:21:42 Craig Oh no.
00:21:42 Matt It was a biomed module.
00:21:44 Craig Oh no.
00:21:45 Matt Yeah. And I ended up writing five hundred words on wasps. [laughs] I have no idea how I got there. I had a great time. [laughs] Everyone learned something new.
00:21:56 Craig [inaudible]
00:21:56 Matt Oh, it was about viruses and our viruses alive. And I don’t know how, but I started talking about wasps in a sentence and I carried on. I mean that’s a whole other thing. There’s like, and officially I think there’s fifty, sixty, seventy ways of actually doing a formal assessment for it in education. And we just get the staple three or four because it’s the easiest.
00:22:17 Craig It is. What I’m guessing from this conversation is the fact that it’s this idea that we need to ensure that we are supporting people from the very get-go. And then afterwards then, if you are going to be giving people the adequate support, if you are giving people the support in this very capitalistic way of us doing education, it’s ensuring that everybody then has the best footing. You don’t want to be writing people off because they’re lazy. When in actual fact what has actually happened is then twenty years down the line they find out I wasn’t lazy. I had a diagnosis of ADHD and because of that I just didn’t have the best support for it. Because I had a diagnosis. They were able to put educational provisional support for me. And that’s something that I think academia should be better at dealing with. And more specifically the university system should be better at dealing with.
00:23:09 Matt Yeah. I mean if you were not an A star student or a C or whatever, you were always put in a lower set or you were put into a special ed class. There’s such a stigma, around not being the mainstream student. And getting the mainstream results and that’s a huge problem, massive problem. Because that’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to get a diagnosis. And I mean obviously back then I didn’t know what ADHD was. But going back, I still think I would be hesitant because I don’t want to, I wouldn’t want to be teased for being, I’m doing quotes with my fingers. Stupid. Because I would’ve been put into a special ed class. And like I had enough going on at the time [laughs] So yeah. And going through college and university with still, university more aware of the fact that my brain was wired differently. Yeah. It was the only way I can really describe how my, how I can like give someone a visualisation for this if people aren’t neuro divergent is if you imagine like a pressure gauge, zero to a hundred percent just trying to maintain and some kind of normalcy like with everyone else who’s neurotypical, would take maybe sixty, seventy per cent of my mental capacity. And that gives me forty per cent to do what I need to do. Getting the ADHD diagnosis, just push that gauge all the way back down to zero because it just validated all these things that I thought I was just really bad at. Like, it’s like, “No, my brain just doesn’t do that. However, I can do this.” [laughs]
00:24:51 Craig Yes. And I think that’s it. It’s this idea that you’ve, people get scared with diagnoses. I got scared of diagnoses. I mean, I have so many diagnoses that literally you can probably write on the two page table sheet. With that diagnosis though, it gave me power. It made me actually realise that there wasn’t something, that there wasn’t some, that it wasn’t just me making stuff up. And with that in mind, I think that people at least with that information, can then use that to be and make choices. And I think that’s something that’s really important. And I’m really glad that you’ve been able to brought that up and I’m actually really glad that you feel as though like that gauge has now dropped because you’ve had the diagnosis. And actually, I think that like I’m excited to see the work that you do in the next ten years. Because now you’re like, “Here I am now.” And….
00:25:46 Matt I built a spaceship.
00:25:47 Craig Yeah. [laughs] But I hope that this, I hope that for those who are listening to this podcast, that they then turn around and they go, “Actually if I do see that my friend is struggling a bit, maybe I could be like listening to this piece, or maybe you could like direct him to some resources and allow them to actually realise that they’re not alone in these types of thoughts.” Because a lot of the times when you’re undiagnosed, I just found it can be quite lonely. Because you think you are the only one going for this problem, but you realise actually maybe your friend over there is also having a problem as well. And then you then go, “Oh, okay. I’m not the only one making this up and stuff.” And so my question here is if you could provide one solution to improve representation of those who are neuro divergent within STEM, what would it be and why?
00:26:38 Matt Oh, I have a little bit of a bug bear with awareness days. Because just being aware of something for a day doesn’t do anything. And everyone’s aware, they just don’t pay attention to it. So, I mean they’re great I guess, but like, “No. do it all year round.” So that would be my biggest thing. And not necessarily celebrating neurodivergency. I mean it is amazing. Like it’s great that people’s brains are wired differently. I love it. Like if everyone thinks the same, everyone thinks the same. You know, I read something on one of those, eat, pray, love kind of motivational pictures, which was like, “If we all sing the same tune, we’ll never be in harmony.” And I really liked it. It was nauseating but I was like, “Oh I quite like it.”
00:27:20 Craig I felt a bit sick. You say that but continue.
00:27:23 Matt [laughs] It works. So yeah. It’s because then when you celebrate something you only really talk about the positives. So within the ADHD kind of online community, there’s a big pushback from people saying it’s a superpower because some people don’t get hyper focused. Or they can’t engage the hyperfocus straight away and they feel like, “Well, I’ve just got a rubbish version of ADHD that makes me a lesser person.” So it’s like, “No, it doesn’t.” I mean it’s hard to reduce stigma around it I guess because people still have ideas as to what they are. Like what people who have autism would be or people with ADHD like bouncing off walls and stuff.
00:27:59 Craig Yeah.
00:28:00 Matt So it’s a hard question. This is a very ADHD answer because I’ve gone like round in a circle and not actually said anything. [laughs]
00:28:06 Craig Well, I can kind of pick up from that then. So I think the things that I’ve taken from that is the fact that awareness days, whilst they do have some positives because they do highlight different aspects of neurodivergency that people may not be aware of. It can be problematic because it only gets one perspective.
00:28:24 Matt Yes. And normally positive one.
00:28:25 Craig And so therefore one thing we need to be doing is ensuring that we’re getting the full spectrum of this. And also acknowledging that it’s not just a particular type of person that will get ADHD. The other thing as well, and I think this is something that I’ve picked up from there, is this idea that people still have these stigmas. And actually through podcasts like this, through resources that have been done online. There’s a lot of brilliant work that’s been done online. I think the Disability In STEM Twitter handle does a lot of really good work on this actually being able to I guess realise, “Okay, what am I doing potentially in my unconscious ways of thinking that could be quite damaging for people who are neuro divergent.” And I think the third thing as well is also if you are seeing somebody around you struggling, not assuming that, “Oh they’re doing this because of X, Y, Z.” Because again that falls into those unconscious biases that we need to kind of move away from. I think that we’re at this point where, because people still don’t fully know what neurodivergency is, in my opinion, people still feel like we need to have conversations. But I think we need to start moving away from conversations and actually starting to put action.
00:29:36 Matt Doing things.
00:29:37 Craig Yes. Yeah. And I think that if we start doing things then people will go, “Okay, maybe I have been a little problematic on this sense, but, and it was unintentional.” And I think that’s sort of the way that I see it.
00:29:50 Matt Yeah. When people start doing things, they’ll start to like, they’ll start to diversify the way that they assess people for exams, etc. And then, you know, it won’t necessarily be that you need to go to like a special support place to go. It’ll just be, “Okay, I want to be assessed by this. Like I don’t need to go get an assessment to say I need an extra five, fifteen minutes.” Like it’ll just be a standard more mainstream way of doing it. Not a special way of getting something.
00:30:17 Craig And also like acknowledging that if you do have those provisions put into place and you do come up with the same qualification with somebody who doesn’t have those provisions, that doesn’t make your qualification any less valid. Because that was the big thing that I always struggled with in my mind was well my grades, the grades that I got because I got those provisions. Like no, it’s just because my brain is wire differently and that is perfectly okay.
00:30:37 Matt Yeah. I hated it when we were doing exams and people were like, “Oh, I wish I could get an extra fifteen minutes.” I’m like, “Yeah, but that you are coming at that from a ridiculously privileged place of being neurotypical with some like, and just assuming that it would be exactly the same for you, but with fifteen minutes extra.” And that’s not the same. Like I might need to read a paragraph twenty five times
00:30:57 Craig [laughs] I mean I had to read the questions for this interview twenty-five times and I still got them wrong. So I tried my absolute best. But this is the end of the podcast. So can I just say it, Dr Frost or Dr Matt as you like to refer to yourself.
00:31:09 Matt First name [inaudible 00:31:09] Dr Matt.
00:31:10 Craig Yeah. [laughs] Dr Matt, thank you ever so much for coming to be a guest on this podcast. Where can people find you and do you have any resources you’d like to direct people to?
00:31:20 Matt Yeah, so most of my stuff, I try to put all my channels through my Instagram. Dr Frosty Pops. So everything that I do is normally on there or at least goes through there at some point. I’m starting a medium channel where I’ve, I’m just writing up things. So I’ve just recently wrote an article which has had one reader so far cause I’m not publicising anywhere. [laughs] But they really enjoyed it, which is the main thing on like when to disclose neurodiversity at a job application. Like at what stage would you do it. Which has been quite, quite eye-opening.
00:31:50 Craig Awesome.
00:31:50 Matt Yeah. Thanks. It’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it.
00:31:53 Craig Again, I would like to thank Matt. I would also like to thank Pride instead for providing us with the space, for having these conversations as well as to our lovely production team, Matthew Young, Alfredo Carpineti, who have been brilliant in putting this podcast together and making it come to life. If you can please rate your podcast wherever you get your podcasts. And finally, if you would like to find out more about Pride in STEM and the word that we do as an organisation, you can follow us at Pride in STEM on both Twitter and Instagram. I’m your host, Dr Craig Poku, and I hope to see you soon.