Diversity has been a key factor shaping Canada’s history and is central to our national identity (Strength in Diversity, 2019). Neurodiversity, however, is now emerging as a significant societal challenge in Canada where 1 in 66 Canadians between the ages of 5 and 17 years old is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (“Support for Canadians Living with ASD”, 2019).
The challenges associated with this form of diversity are nonetheless both very specific and significant, especially in the workplace, where individuals often assume that others perceive, analyze and react to information in the same way that they do. Additional factors add to the complexity: people lack understanding of ASD and the ability to recognize it. As a result, many workplaces may be unfit for individuals living with ASD, and leaders may be unequipped to understand and deal with the challenges of neurodiversity.
As future officers in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Officer Cadets and Naval Cadets are learning to act as leaders, manage members of the CAF and civilians, and relate to citizens from various backgrounds. Considering the prevalence of ASD, it is reasonable to expect that they will have substantial engagement with individuals living with the condition.
On 9 February The Department of Management invited students to participate in a discussion on neurodiversity in the workplace and a Virtual Reality experience to immerse Students in the reality of a person on the autism spectrum. The workshop was aimed at better preparing future officers for the challenge of working and interacting with a variety of individuals whose thought processing differs from their own.
This discussion was funded by the donors of the RMC Alumni Association.
To listen to a Cadet perspective on the experience please click this link: https://youtube.com/shorts/6YTdNkA3eQI