The Human Centered Design Podcast with Gerry Scullion

Felisha Araniti 'Let's talk about neurodiversity within Design'

John Carter
November 17, 2022
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Felisha Araniti 'Let's talk about neurodiversity within Design'

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Episode shownotes

The episode you are about to hear is with Felisha Araniti, from SCAD University in Savannah. Felisha connected with me several years ago when we ran the first Doing Design Festival and recently published a visualisation that caught my attention. Titled ‘Neurodiversity’ within Human Centered Design Practice, I connected some of the dots between a conversation or episode with Brigette Metzler about how certain neurodiverse minds may well be better suited to aspects of design. It was a throw away comment by me at that time, but Felisha has been researching in this space for a while, following her own diagnosis with ADHD.

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Episode Transcript

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[00:00:00] Felisha Araniti: Somebody with Tourettes, somebody with autism or deep depression, anxiety, those kinds of areas of mental health are going to have higher levels of empathy or sense of emotion, elevated emotions, and they might be able to apply that. Really well within their research.

[00:00:21] Gerry Scullion: Hello and welcome to this is eight cd. My name is Jerry Olian and I'm a designer educator, and I'm the host of This is eight CD based in the wonderful city of Dublin, Ireland. Our goal here is to have conversations that inspire and help move the dial forward for organizations to become more human centered in their approach to solving complex business and societal problems.

[00:00:42] Gerry Scullion: Now this episode, About to hear is with Felicia A from Skad University in Savannah, Georgia in the US Now, Felicia connected with me several years ago when we ran the first doing design festival and recently published a really cool visualization that caught my attention online titled Neurodiversity Within [00:01:00] Human-Centered Design Practice.

[00:01:01] Gerry Scullion: Now, I connected some of the dots between a convers. Or an episode with Bridgette Metzler about how certain Neurodiverse minds may be well-suited or better suited to aspects of design. And it was a throwaway comment by me at the time. But Felicia has been researching in this space for a while now, following her own diagnosis with a adhd.

[00:01:21] Gerry Scullion: We discussed that in a little bit more detail as well. It's a really good episode. But before we jump in, if you like, what we're doing here at this society, Please help us out by leaving a review wherever you're listening to the podcast. It only takes a couple of minutes, but it really helps the findability of the podcast and helps share the word to other change makers around the world.

[00:01:40] Gerry Scullion: Or you can go one better and by becoming a patron and you can get an ad-free stream of the podcast for as little as one Euro 66 per month. That's two cups of coffee in Dublin, and you also get a shout out. On whatever podcast is coming up next, there are other plans where we can get exclusive items too.

[00:01:58] Gerry Scullion: And literally all the money goes to [00:02:00] editing, hosting, and maintaining our website, which is now a repository for human-centered design goodness, with over 220 episodes, folks. Anyway, let's jump straight into this episode. Felicia a I'm delighted to have you on the podcast. Um, welcome to, this is hd. Um, tell us a little bit about yourself and where you.

[00:02:20] Felisha Araniti: Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I currently reside in Savannah, Georgia. Um, and I'm a current master's student here at the Savannah College of Art Design studying service design. Right.

[00:02:32] Gerry Scullion: Okay. So shout out to. Ricardo Martins, who actually had nothing to do with this introduction.

[00:02:39] Gerry Scullion: This was some, uh, an interaction between myself and yourself on LinkedIn. Um, and you're telling me it happened a couple of years ago. We were maybe chatting a little bit during the Doing Design Festival. Um, and it's great to, to finally have you on the podcast, Felicia, but maybe you mentioned there you're doing a Masters in Service design.

[00:02:57] Gerry Scullion: But the premise for this podcast and this [00:03:00] specific episode was, um, An image you created or an illustration you created a bit newer diversity within human-centered design practices. And when I saw that, I thought this could have been, um, a really fantastic conversation to have around newer diversity within the fields.

[00:03:18] Gerry Scullion: So maybe if you're okay to talk about it, um, what's your own journey and your own involvement with neurodiversity within your own life?

[00:03:26] Felisha Araniti: Yeah, absolutely. So. I was a bit of a, I, I kind of consider myself a late bloomer, but when you kind of let look at statistics, um, women around my age, this is actually the time that a lot of women get diagnosed just because women and men tend to have different spectrums of, of when certain.

[00:03:48] Felisha Araniti: Symptoms really come to light. And I, and I don't wanna say I say symptoms loosely, but um, I got diagnosed in November of 2021 and officially diagnosed with adhd, [00:04:00] uh, depression, anxiety, and then complex ptsd. Um, and then I recently have been, uh, diagnosed with a, uh, bipolar mania disorder. Um, I believe it was in August of 2022.

[00:04:17] Gerry Scullion: Okay, so this is all relatively quite new in your life in the last 12 months that, um, these discoveries have been made. Um, what was, you know, maybe take, take me a bit on the journey of what led you to getting diagnosed, um, and if you're okay to talk about any of those things. Like what, what did the symptoms look like?

[00:04:38] Gerry Scullion: Yeah,

[00:04:39] Felisha Araniti: absolutely. So one of, one of the key things that I've started to learn across this journey is that you have to be vulnerable. You have to allow vulnerability to kind of seep in because that's when you get a lot of, of, a lot of meat to the context. Um, but also you're not doing yourself any justice by leaving any details out.

[00:04:58] Felisha Araniti: When I was younger, [00:05:00] I really struggled in primary school. I really struggled when I was, um, in kindergarten and, you know, those first years. Because I didn't adhere to the structure, I didn't understand why I needed to adhere to a structure. Right? Follow the line. Um, sit in your assigned seat. We have to do this this way.

[00:05:17] Felisha Araniti: We have to do this at this time. And. You know, I really gave my, my teachers a bit of a struggle. I remember my mom always telling me during the parent teacher conferences that I was like, Hey, Felicia doesn't really, really, really, you know, understand this. Maybe you could kind of help her at home. And, you know, having two older siblings who, you know, I will say, Were neurotypical and my mom didn't really have to struggle with these experiences with them.

[00:05:43] Felisha Araniti: Um, it was a bit of a challenge for her. So she would just say, well, just do what the teacher says, you know, kind of, you know, what's going on. And I just told my mom, I was like, well, I don't, I don't, I don't understand why I need to do this. So I was really, really stuck on the emphasis of why. And finally I started to just [00:06:00] understand, okay, the person next to me is doing this.

[00:06:02] Felisha Araniti: The teacher commenced this kind of behavior. Um, Person is doing what the definition of successful is. Let me go ahead and adopt these person's traits as my own. And then, you know, mimic and mask and then, um, push forward. And that process was very, very successful for me. I remember, you know, I quickly became, you know, really good.

[00:06:24] Felisha Araniti: Really good student, you know, my mom was, was saying, okay, hey, this is great. You know, keep doing what you're doing. And so I adopted that until I, I reached college and then by the time I, I started my first year in, at the university at scad. Um, That's when I lit, I started to have a little bit more of a challenge because now the ball was in my court.

[00:06:45] Felisha Araniti: I had a little bit more sense of, of control with my life and what I wanted to do, and a lot of, of those teachers in those beginning art classes were very, um, abstract. With our projects, they would say, Hey, this is the basis, [00:07:00] you know, and then you kind of take it from there. And I kind of struggled a bit and I was like, man, I, my whole life I've been kind of told what to do and now I really get to kind of drive this and I'm struggling.

[00:07:12] Felisha Araniti: And that's when I first took, I started to seek, um, psychiatric help. I found my first therapist at the age of 18 and. Here. I grew up as somebody who didn't really think there was anything wrong with me, per se. Um, and by the time you. I started taking, you know, talking to a therapist, they started to kind of really dig deep into my childhood and really try to understand, you know, why I am the way that I am.

[00:07:42] Felisha Araniti: Why am I, you know, this kind of, uh, neurotic person with these neurotic tendencies? And growing up I remember. I would tell my mom, mom, I just don't understand. And I would tell her, I was like, mom, I just don't think like A, B, C. Right? I might think like a d b, [00:08:00] uh, cx. And my mom was like, okay, well just keep, keep doing what you're doing and keep doing what's, what's successful.

[00:08:07] Felisha Araniti: And so I kind of had to kind of really compress and suppress these. Tendencies that I had because it wasn't what was accepted. And when I got to college, I'm like, okay, let's, let's dive deeper into this. Let's dive deeper into understanding, um, why I feel the need to mask and, you know, where does that stem from?

[00:08:27] Felisha Araniti: And that's where that journey started. Yeah. Was was back in 20, 20 16.

[00:08:33] Gerry Scullion: Okay. It's, um, So you've been on this journey for about six years, effectively. Mm-hmm. like you've been, you know, exploring and, uh, delving into your past, which is, is always good. Um, in, in my experience, I've, I've done the same for, for many years in, in a similar time zone as well.

[00:08:50] Gerry Scullion: Um, or time period, should I say. So. Going back to your childhood, um, mm-hmm. , and the, the bit that you mentioned there about structure and [00:09:00] following structure and, and mimicking is something that I've heard quite a lot from my own peers who've gone through this journey. But where I'm interested to focus this conversation is your journey as a designer and, and how you found design.

[00:09:15] Gerry Scullion: Was that something that happened just kind of organically or because the illustration that you, you created there shows that there's uh, there's a, there's a real strength in neurodiversity mm-hmm. , um, in, in regards certain fields of design. Um, and I'm, I'm really interested to see. How you landed into the world of design.

[00:09:37] Gerry Scullion: Mm-hmm. . And what parts of design really stimulate your brain and, and feel like this is, this is where you don't have to follow structure so much. Mm-hmm. , um, you don't have to mimic, you don't have to to play the role of the child, so to speak. Um, so maybe tell us a little bit more around that journey as well, if you can.

[00:09:55] Felisha Araniti: Yeah, absolutely. So when I originally started applying for colleges, um, I [00:10:00] have two older sisters who. At this point had already gone to school, graduated, and were giving me a lot of advice. Right. Um, one of my older sisters studied film and television at the University of Oklahoma, and then my other sister studied, um, business and engineering, um, over at the Texas a and m and.

[00:10:21] Felisha Araniti: Know, I was taking a bit more of a different route. I knew that I wanted to go to a school that was, um, creative and in the arts, but I didn't necessarily know what, so at the time I said, well, I'm really good at drawing and I love animation. I was really obsessed with Studio Jubilee Films at the time. So I signed up, I went to SCD four animation, took a class, did not like it.

[00:10:42] Felisha Araniti: So I was a bit, I was a bit disheartened. I'm like, okay, well I still have the opportunity. Let's, let me see what else is out there. At the time, my roommate was an architecture. and she struggled a lot with fine arts and she was like, well, Felicia, you're so, you're so good at it. You're so good at abstract thinking and [00:11:00] applying yourself.

[00:11:01] Felisha Araniti: And she would, I remember, would stay up until like 3:00 AM Um, I'd be helping her with her projects once I finished my, my projects and be like, okay, cool. You know, this is something that works really well. This is something that you could do. I think your teacher would really like this and she. Was really trying to pull me into that kind of, um, the school of building art.

[00:11:20] Felisha Araniti: She's like, I think you would do really well in architecture or interior design. And I was like, okay, well lemme check it out. So started kind of looking and from architecture, I found interior. And then from interior I found furniture design. And then I said, okay, well furniture design is a branch of product design, so lemme go ahead and do product design, which at Skad is, is industrial design.

[00:11:44] Felisha Araniti: Switched my major, took a class in industrial design, loved it. I had a professor. Mm-hmm. . And the first thing that he said, he walked in, he said, okay, your, your assignment is to build a pair of shoes out of any material you want. And it [00:12:00] is due in two days. And he is like, If your shoes fall apart. Oh, he said he's gonna have us run in, up and down the hallway, and if our shoes fall apart, we fail.

[00:12:10] Felisha Araniti: And you know, then he's like, all right, class dismiss. Go ahead and start working. And we're all just like, what? And you know, it was just like, you know, and at first it's really, really intimidating. But I remember coming back and saying, okay, what, what do I know what to do? What can I do? And that in itself is really stimulating that kind of drive and sense of, you know, Just du jumping into an abyss and don't really know what the outcome of it was really exciting.

[00:12:35] Felisha Araniti: The further that I kind of got into my industrial design program, that's when I started to have a little bit more kickback by my professors. My professors would say, you know, Hey Felicia, you, you're doing really great on the concept and I've seen you've worked a lot of time on understanding, you know, why users are gonna.

[00:12:52] Felisha Araniti: Product, um, you know, what gravitates towards them, X, Y, Z. He's like, but I'm not grading you on that. I'm grading you on the physical, [00:13:00] um, item itself. And right now your, your, your product is lacking. And I was just like, I know, but isn't the concept really great? And, you know, they would be like, It is, but you know, that's not what I'm grading you on.

[00:13:13] Felisha Araniti: You know, I'm asking you to make a tray. I wanna see what your craftsmanship is like. So then I had a professor pull me aside during a one on one and he was like, Felicia, I think you're, you're, you're great, but I think you're in the wrong major. And of course that's nothing and any student wants to hear.

[00:13:27] Felisha Araniti: So he said, I'm gonna go ahead and take you across the hall and introduce you to, um, A professor, and that's when he introduced me to, uh, to Zenya at the time. And she was the chair of service design, um, back in 20, 20 16. And I had that conversation with Zenya. And Zenya is like, well, you know, worse comes to worse.

[00:13:47] Felisha Araniti: You take a class you don't like it, it counts on as, as an elective and you continue on your industrial design course. So then I took the. And it tickled something different within me. And I didn't understand what [00:14:00] that was until probably earlier this year where I had, I was able to kind of let my walls down it.

[00:14:06] Felisha Araniti: There was no more masking, there was no more, uh, mimicking. It was bringing my true, authentic self to the table. And that bec and that was because I was adding that human element, that human perspective of, okay, if I do this this way, How can I apply my thought process into understanding why other people do this this way?

[00:14:27] Felisha Araniti: Okay. And, and that's really where I was like, Nope, this is, it. Called my mom and said, Hey mom, I'm, I know that you don't wanna hear this, but I'm changing my major for the third time. Um, and I promise it's gonna stay. And my mom's like, please do . You know, my, you know, at this time I'm giving my mom a heart attack.

[00:14:43] Felisha Araniti: Every time I'm saying, okay, I'm switching my major and I'm taking a couple extra classes. I might have to stay a little bit longer than the traditional four years.

[00:14:51] Gerry Scullion: That's cool. I mean, like, it, it's great that you had the support from your family as well to be able to make that switch over to service design and do the [00:15:00] masters over there in scad.

[00:15:01] Gerry Scullion: But I guess I'm really interested to see, um, why you feel a new ver uh, neuro divergent mind and brain. Um, What is it about that brain that suits the intangible? So say in around, um, service design, because a lot of the experiences that we design within service design are invisible and they have to be, you know, fixed or the sequencing and putting things in order and structure and so forth.

[00:15:31] Gerry Scullion: How does that lend itself to be? More kind of supported by a neuro divergent brain, do you think?

[00:15:38] Felisha Araniti: I, I, I wanna say, so going back to my diagnosis of, of adhd and one, there's a stimulating factor that you have multiple outlets. To kind of get that simulation, whether it's the person to person interaction, the synthesizing and analysis, right, or [00:16:00] the actual prototyping phase.

[00:16:02] Felisha Araniti: There's, you're constantly doing something different. You're not always gonna be doing the same thing. Every project's gonna be different, and you have that safety net of being able to take a new approach and knowing there's some value in. Regardless of which approach I take, there's no wrong, but there is the, you have that safety note saying, I could take it this way and I still did something impactful with my work.

[00:16:30] Felisha Araniti: And so that sense of validation, one lessens the amount of fear in an individual, allows 'em to bring their true, authentic self and then kind of push forward with that narrative and. I think one thing that resonated with me having that kind of safety net built and having that kind of foundation built within my classes, it really allowed me to kind of sprout in multiple different directions, right?

[00:16:54] Felisha Araniti: The sun might be pointed in one way, but I wanna kind of explore this darkness. Let me see what's over here. That's not really being there. [00:17:00] Um, and then there was the. Point of always touching onto the emotional element of users. Mm-hmm. . And I think that wasn't always, that hasn't always been seen. So the opportunity for somebody to say, Hey, I'm experiencing something negative and I wanna touch into it, I wanna explore deeper.

[00:17:18] Felisha Araniti: And that for me was such a big eye opener because my whole life I was constantly told to reform, to kind of follow this, um, a style or, you know, a b style. Learning and be this kind of person. So I was constantly told what to do and then all of a sudden I have this opportunity to really jump in and say, Hey, this is something negative, this is a negative experience and we wanna make it better.

[00:17:42] Felisha Araniti: So there was that kind of bit of like this, this hero concept or this hero journey going on, right? Saying, Hey, I have experienced negative experiences in my life, but I'm gonna take that, all of that and kind. Persevere be this kind of phoenix rising out of the [00:18:00] ashes. Yeah. And say, I wanna make these experiences better for people.

[00:18:04] Felisha Araniti: So I had that drive, I had that motivation, and I don't think I ever knew how to kind of apply it. And it wasn't until I got to service design and it was like, wow, I can really make things better for people. And it probably wasn't until this year that I said, wow, I can really make these experiences better for people that are like me.

[00:18:23] Felisha Araniti: Sure. And I was able to bridge those two

[00:18:25] Gerry Scullion: together. It's, it's interesting because. When I'm hearing you speak, when you look back to, um, your childhood and how you mimic the, the system or the game, so to speak, of how to get ahead, what can result is an academically standard type person at the end of the, the conveyor belt, so to speak.

[00:18:48] Gerry Scullion: So it, it's, there seems to be a gap there in the academic system where we're not really supporting. Neuro divergent, uh, people to succeed. We're, we're not able to flex [00:19:00] the, the educational process to be more inclusive. So that's something that we'll probably be all aware of. Um, at some point we all have to conform to basically to, to perform and.

[00:19:14] Gerry Scullion: Basically get a, a grade at the end of it that reflects on our intelligence. Mm-hmm. , which isn't entirely reflective of who we are as a person. Um, so it's really interesting to see where, you know, it looks like it's, it was your friend that really guided you through that. It wasn't the academic process, it wasn't the educational system in America.

[00:19:33] Gerry Scullion: It was your friend that actually stepped in and was your sign post, so to speak, to architecture and then industrial design and then service design. Mm-hmm. . I, I, I'm, I'm gonna just probably speak a little bit outta line here, but my experience with adhd mm-hmm. , I'm not adhd. Um, some of my friends have recently been diagnosed and growing up it was almost like we would think of the, the problem child of being, uh, [00:20:00] people who've got ADHD are the one who were.

[00:20:02] Gerry Scullion: You know, they're kind of running around and they're, they're not able to, to sit still, and they're, they're able to just, just kind of be a little bit more all over the place. That's not ne, not necessarily true. Okay. And that's my own learning and my own journey to get to this point where, I know some seriously successful people who are in adhd, and I'm interested in the characteristics that you believe an ADHD person has that lends themselves to a specific type of work.

[00:20:32] Gerry Scullion: Um, like work in service design, you know, being able to flick between the different zoom levels of, of design and reality, and being hyper focused on those, that attention and detail. Can you talk to me about your own experience in that? And is that something that my perspective, is it right or wrong?

[00:20:52] Felisha Araniti: It's, it's, it's a little bit of, it's a little bit of, I don't wanna say it's a little bit of both.

[00:20:57] Felisha Araniti: I think it's, it's unique with every, every [00:21:00] individual. I think you are correct in the sense that there is the, um, that negative stigma associated with adhd and it's actually ADHD does vary from. Um, male to female or, um, well, I should just say it varies from persons person to person. And with me, I was able, one, be, be very detail oriented.

[00:21:25] Felisha Araniti: Was a hyper, was hyper focused, was able to zoom in and understand, um, processes. Right? You know, all of a sudden I hyper fixate on a line of ants outside. And it leads me to a bigger can of worms right now. All of a sudden I'm following these ants. I'm like, okay, what are they taking the bread? Okay, where did the bread come from?

[00:21:44] Felisha Araniti: Okay, I'm seeing that if there was somebody left some trash nearby and there was a bag of Fris on the floor. Um, but then I'm like, okay, where are they taking it? Then I'm able to find the ants nest. And you know, all of a sudden I just spent an hour of my life dedicating to observation with these ants [00:22:00] outside.

[00:22:00] Felisha Araniti: Now how can I apply that within service design? That was one thing that, that I was like, oh man, I would hyper focus on, focus on something and then you know it, it would take my peers to kind of take me a step back and be like, right, Felicia, come on, come back to reality. And I think that's the really interesting nature is.

[00:22:17] Felisha Araniti: You start to see one thing and then you open an entire ecosystem of a bunch of other outlets, and so that's one element of adhd. Another element is the. Ability to have multiple perspectives at once. And the way that I kind of see it is I'll be doing something right, writing an essay, typing up an email, and then all of a sudden I'm listening to something else, whether it's music, a podcast, I need something else stimulating me.

[00:22:44] Felisha Araniti: So I constantly have to have that need to stimulate me, you know? Um, visually audibly, physically, right? The typing, the sensation of the keys. Um, yeah, what the kind of clothes I'm wearing, and the more perspectives and layers [00:23:00] that you kind of add into that. The minute that there's a disruption in one of those, you start to kind of immediately dive, dive down and analyze, okay, hey, my computer is twitching, or the internet's, you know, going out.

[00:23:12] Felisha Araniti: Then you're able to take a step back and say, okay, what's going on within my personal ecosystem? How do I need to troubleshoot this and how can I kind of regain normalcy so I can continue? Producing work, whatever it is that I'm doing. Um, that same process and methodology can be applied when I'm doing my work, right?

[00:23:30] Felisha Araniti: So I'm like, okay, I'm looking at multiple different perspectives. I'm almost playing a game of clue. I have something that stimulates me in this way, something else that stimulates me in this way. Um, X, Y, Z. So when I'm conducting interviews, a lot of the time, even if it's face to face, I always let the stakeholder on the other end say, Hey.

[00:23:49] Felisha Araniti: I'm gonna be taking notes and my notes aren't, might not always be reflective of what you're saying, but it's so I can be stimulated in a way that I can remember what, what it [00:24:00] is that you're saying and then also kind of, um, synthesize it later on. And I always have to let them know because sometimes one of the factors about me is that I don't always make good eye contact.

[00:24:13] Felisha Araniti: And so it's. I have to have that additional line of stimulation when I'm having conversations, whether it's writing down notes, so I can make sure that I'm actually focusing on what it is that they're doing, or I'm visually being stimulated by my surroundings. And so, you know, somebody might look at that and say, oh, well this person's rude, or This person's not paying attention.

[00:24:33] Felisha Araniti: And it's quite the opposite. I actually had a conversation with an individual who was talking to me and at the same time, Writing down some notes and he, and he goes and he says, you know, I really hate it when people say that they're gonna listen, but then don't actually listen at all. And I, and I stop doing what I'm doing, and I look at him and I'm like, what makes you think I wasn't listening?

[00:24:52] Felisha Araniti: He's like, well, you weren't making eye contact with me. And I said, well, how do you know that, you know, By not making eye contact [00:25:00] with you that I wasn't listening and I had to explain to him and I said, well, I have adhd. And one of the ways that I, that I enhance into whatever it is that the other individual's doing is by doing something else.

[00:25:11] Felisha Araniti: So in one way, my mind's not racing so much. I'm kind of slowing down. That thought process, not creating so much of a tunnel vision, kind of divert all of that energy into doing a another singular task so I can truly focus on what an individual's doing. And when I explained that to him, I said, well, this is xyz, what you said to me.

[00:25:32] Felisha Araniti: And, you know, then I proposed a solution. What would make you feel comfortable? What would be an, you know, the response that you would like me to say to make you feel heard? He was like, well, just giving me a response. Like, oh yeah. Or just kind of nodding your head. And I'm like, okay, I will do that. Mm-hmm.

[00:25:48] Felisha Araniti: I said, but now you, now we know how we can help each other. And he was like, well thank you so much for that perspective. Cuz he's like, I would've never thought, and that was you. Taking every, every life experience and [00:26:00] saying, okay, this person might think this way. Let me go ahead and make sure that I, that nobody else feels that way, or, you know, try my best to reduce, reduce that.

[00:26:08] Gerry Scullion: Um, and it's great that he had the strength to, to speak up because, um, too often in the workplace or in social situations, you just kind of make these assumptions that that person isn't listening and maybe come to some other conclusion. So whoever it was, like it. Sometimes it's important to speak up and, you know, try and define how you want to engage.

[00:26:33] Gerry Scullion: Is, is what I'm hearing there. But there's other things there that, in, in your illustration that I found really interesting. Okay. And it was, um, and I'm gonna put the visualization, I'll put a link to it in, um, in the show notes for the episode so people can click into it and see it and LinkedIn and ask you a question if they wanna build on it as well.

[00:26:54] Gerry Scullion: And if you're okay, I might put it on the, the podcast page as well and, and listen HD and link [00:27:00] back as well, just for other people to just find that the podcast that way. There's so many different types of neuro divergent, um, divergency, so to speak, uh, like dyspraxia, autism, Tourettes, uh, dyslexia and stuff.

[00:27:15] Gerry Scullion: Um, and. There's two things that I'm hearing here. Okay. One, it's really important to have people who are newer, divergent in your, your kind of the people that you're researching with. Mm-hmm. . But there's also, it's really important to have people who are newer, divergent on your team just to, to help improve the processes and mm-hmm.

[00:27:32] Gerry Scullion: be more, more inclusive. Um, you as a service designer, like, so we spoke about the designer for the intangible and systems level thinking that's required. In regards to other disciplines like research and stuff, we have to see patterns amongst, uh, large data sets and stuff. Do you have any, um, experience on what type of neuro divergent brain is best [00:28:00] suited to those, um, that industry or that that part of design?

[00:28:05] Gerry Scullion: And

[00:28:06] Felisha Araniti: yeah, so I'll probably speak on, on what I've observed and also my own personal experiences. Yeah. Um, so when I was kind of putting this visual together, I was able to kind of get the information from Genius within us, um, which is an organization here within the United States. And they themselves had put together a really nice, um, visual where.

[00:28:28] Felisha Araniti: They categorized these different type of neuro divergent, um, silos and then really highlighted their strengths within it. So when I was putting together this, this visual, I was like, okay, I know what these peop, what these, um, individual strengths are, who are diagnosed with these, um, different conditions.

[00:28:46] Felisha Araniti: How can I then reflect that within this, uh, design thinking, um, realm and. , my, my, I then took that information and then was able to kind of say, okay, [00:29:00] somebody who tore its, might have difficulty typing or writing, but they're, they have very keen observational skills. They have really, you know, because they've had to.

[00:29:10] Felisha Araniti: Compromise in other areas, they're gonna be able to, um, formulate their thoughts and ideas a lot better than maybe somebody else with adhd. Um, because there is a big spectrum factor that does play into everybody's diagnosis. Um, each individual might be a bit different. Um, but I think that's where this visual kind of really wants to play more on strengths than.

[00:29:36] Felisha Araniti: Highlighting, okay, these are the pros or cons of an individual and saying, Hey, you have these great strengths. Now put yourself and apply yourself and, and where you feel comfortable or where you feel that you might have the most vitality in the industry. Um, and I, and I was able to kind of also put it together with having conversations with other neuro divergent beings and saying, Hey, where do you feel more comfortable throughout this entire process?

[00:29:59] Felisha Araniti: [00:30:00] So, you know, somebody with Tourettes, somebody with, with. Um, autism or deep, uh, you know, depression, anxiety, those kinds of areas of mental health, uh, are going to have higher levels of, of empathy or, um, sense of emotion, elevated emotions, and they might be able to apply that really well within their research.

[00:30:24] Felisha Araniti: Um, and so they're probably gonna be more center. But the beginning of the process,

[00:30:30] Gerry Scullion: I, I know you're. At the, towards the middle of your journey in terms of getting your, your masters mm-hmm. . Um, have you any experience of how organizations are set up to support neurodiversity? Um, because if we're, if we're only supporting a, a specific type of neuro atypical, um, presumably there's a lot more work to be done in that space software.

[00:30:58] Felisha Araniti: 100%. And, [00:31:00] and through my own personal experiences, I've. Had a lot of learning opportunities, but I've had a lot of opportunities where, hey, let me take my personal experiences, see if other people were kind of experiencing the same thing, and then see if we can actually develop a process or inform, um, companies and individuals to kind of be a bit more inclusive.

[00:31:21] Felisha Araniti: And that's one thing that I think I want to really dive deeper on within my, my thesis, because I've actually had, um, experiences where, The need to disclose that information is, is necessary. For example, like that conversation with that, that individual that I had, in order for them to understand my perspective and how I can better have a coherent relationship with that person, I had to disclose that element of myself.

[00:31:48] Felisha Araniti: And I think with the, in the United States, there is that negative stigma of, okay, if you. Tell, say too much or you say, oh, I have this. Then you're [00:32:00] limiting your abilities on what you can do, and I really wanna challenge it and challenge and combat that stigma and say, Hey, no, it's not that we're limiting it, saying what can I, you know, help me help you.

[00:32:11] Felisha Araniti: And in order for, uh, for me to help myself in Excel, I have to disclose this to you so you understand how I can gain vitality in this working environment. You know, there were times where, you know, I felt a bit embarrassed if somebody was coming up to me thinking that I wasn't doing my work simply because I had three different devices running at the same time.

[00:32:30] Felisha Araniti: Right? I have a podcast playing, I have a music plane, I have, you know, I'm doing one thing and somebody's gonna say, man, this person's insane. How? How the heck are. Listening, but you know, I'm developing so much white noise so I can actually focus on the one thing that I wanna focus on. And to somebody who might be neurotypical, they might not understand that.

[00:32:50] Felisha Araniti: But it works for me. And at the end of the day, I still produce the work that I want, the work that I'm proud of, and, and, you know, I still produce the outcomes that, that are needed for whatever it is [00:33:00] that I'm applying myself to. Um, but there is that level of vulnerability and being able to disclose yourself within, um, that working environment for somebody else to say, okay, I know what this person's doing, I'm gonna trust in their process, and then, Maybe it's going to kind of open that perspective to me so I can then apply that within other situations as well.

[00:33:22] Gerry Scullion: Well, Felicia, um, we're coming towards the end of the episode here. Mm-hmm. , and there's probably a whole, there's a whole world of conversations we could have off the back of this, and I've, I've bit my tongue in certain areas because , you know, it could be a 10 hour episode on neurodiversity within human centered design.

[00:33:41] Gerry Scullion: And just generally just within design. I mean, like there. There's so much opportunity there to better support people, um, and. Just to be more inclusive, but if people, um, wanna reach out to you, what's your preferred way to, to reach you for them to reach out to you?

[00:33:58] Felisha Araniti: Absolutely. Um, they [00:34:00] can, uh, connect with me on LinkedIn.

[00:34:02] Felisha Araniti: One of the things that I recently did is I signed up to be a mentor or an ADP list. Um, so I'm hoping that app application goes through, I recently did it about a week ago. Um, so once that gets approved, I'll be posting that on LinkedIn and so I'll have the opportunity to get connected with a bunch of other individuals and, you know, hopefully be able to give them advice and mentor them and give them that confidence that they need to have these conversations, whether it's what their employer, their professors, or even start these conversations at home.

[00:34:30] Felisha Araniti: Um, yeah, and that's one of the biggest things that I, I wanna push is like, Hey, I'm gonna be really seeing information. , but the value that is gonna be taken out of the information is, is based on, on the person reading it, on the perspective of that individual. Um, okay. And hopefully somebody who is neuro dive divergent will be able to say, Hey, somebody else is experiencing this.

[00:34:50] Felisha Araniti: And, you know, they're able to apply themselves and be successful. That gives me the confidence to be able to say, I can be successful too.

[00:34:59] Gerry Scullion: Okay, well it, it's [00:35:00] fantastic you've put your hand up cuz it's always good to have people who are out there kind of on the journey as well for other people who are at the start of the journey to be able to connect with and ask questions and feel supported.

[00:35:11] Gerry Scullion: That's how community's work and that's how networks are formed. So, um, fantastic. I'll put a link to your LinkedIn in the show notes. Um, and the best to look with the, the second part of your ma and scd. You know, I'm a. Believer and a big lover of all the work that's, uh, happening in Skad there, Ricardo, and formally with Moritzio as well.

[00:35:31] Gerry Scullion: So, mm-hmm. , um, keep up the great work and obviously when you, you get to that point where you're finished and if we can help you share any more information or any more findings that you might have had in your journey, please just loop back in. We you have another episode. It was fantastic speaking. Thank you so much for giving me your honesty and your energy and getting up at a ridiculous a clock to, uh, to speak with me as well.

[00:35:51] Gerry Scullion: I really appreciate.

[00:35:53] Felisha Araniti: So, absolutely. I greatly appreciate it. Thank you for having me on.

[00:35:59] Gerry Scullion: There [00:36:00] you go folks. I hope you enjoyed that episode, and if you enjoyed it and want to listen to more, why not visit? This is hate where you can learn more about what we are up to and also explore our course as once you're there. Thanks again for listening.

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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