Neurodivergent (ND) Businesses, Christmas Showcase

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Showcasing Neurodivergent Business Owners – Christmas Edition

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The Christmas season is nearly here! This year, I’m shining a spotlight on some remarkable businesses, not just as places to find the perfect gift but as a celebration of neurodivergence, fostering a world where differences are cherished, and every contribution is valued. If you choose to celebrate neurodiversity during this festive season, it will echo the true spirit of Christmas – one of acceptance, love, and understanding.

In this blog post, I invite you to embark on a journey that goes beyond the traditional and explores the vibrant world of neurodivergence. Let’s embrace the magic of Christmas by supporting businesses owned and operated by individuals on the neurodivergent spectrum.

Neurodivergent-owned businesses offer a special and diverse range of products that bring creativity, innovation, and a fresh perspective to the market. I’m thrilled to showcase these amazing businesses and encourage you to consider their offerings for your Christmas shopping. From personalised gifts to one-of-a-kind decorations, each item tells a story of resilience, passion, and the unique talents that neurodivergent individuals bring to the table.

This Christmas, let’s make our shopping not just a transaction but a meaningful connection with the talented and creative minds behind neurodivergent-owned ventures.

Read the whole thing or jump to each section using the link on the headings below.

What is ND?

Okay, first up, what is ND? ND stands for Neurodivergence/Neurodiverse.

The term neurodivergent is often used to describe individuals whose neurological development and functioning differ from what is considered “typical” or neurotypical. Neurodivergent individuals may include those with conditions such as:

  • Autism spectrum conditions (ASC)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Dyslexia
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Anxiety disorders

Neurodiversity advocates argue that society should embrace and support the diverse range of cognitive and neurological abilities, rather than pathologizing or stigmatizing those who are neurodivergent. They believe that neurological differences can bring unique strengths, perspectives, and talents to the table – And I happen to agree.

My ND Story

I knew my son was different from around the age of 2.5. There were lots of little things – no speech, delayed milestones, hating certain noises, having to do the same things at the same time each day, not sleeping, very limited diet, banging his head on the floor and lots of other small things that didn’t seem concerning until he started getting older and I put things into a bigger picture.

As time went on it was incredibly clear to me that he’s autistic. I became super focussed on learning more about autism and how it presents differently in each person. As he got older, more symptoms surfaced so I spoke to his school. They reported they had no concerns and referred me to a parenting class. At this point many people told me it was parenting or “all children do that at some point” – I doubted myself so much but determined, I booked a GP appointment for a referral for him to be assessed.

Meantime, he was suffering at school so much. I felt guilty every day. There were incidents before, during and after school. I remember one day, I’d just had my youngest and my eldest was having an almighty meltdown, hitting me, kicking out and then he ran off. Obviously, we got all the stares and tuts. I had the baby in a pram and couldn’t run after him so asked another mum in the playground to just watch the pram for 2 minutes while I went to get my son – she said no! At that point I just wanted the ground to swallow me up. We had many days like that. The most unhelpful comments and looks – in the end I started saying things back because I wanted my son to know I had his back, and that people can be judgemental and ignorant but I won’t just take it.

The GP appointment came, and I went armed with everything I’d noticed, a sleep diary and a general day to day diary. The GP spoke to my son, asked him his name and age etc and based on that single conversation and because he gave eye contact, she concluded that he wasn’t autistic. Undeterred I gave her my paperwork and she reluctantly agreed to refer him, since I’d said I’d get a 2nd and 3rd opinion anyway!

The waiting list was 3 years long – absolutely ridiculous. Anyway, we finally got the assessment date. They assessed and told me there and then he’s autistic. I felt absolutely elated! FINALLY. It wasn’t all in my head. I wasn’t a neurotic parent needing to go on a parenting course and we could finally get some support for our son.

We were given some leaflets and sent on our way. That was it. Nothing else. No support, nothing. This started a long, long process of getting an EHCP, reasonable adjustments, an ADHD assessment and subsequent diagnosis, more “parenting classes” and just so many battles, boxes to tick and hoops to jump through. It was an exhausting, heartbreaking 6 years.

Then came the time for secondary school. We knew he wouldn’t cope in a mainstream, but a full specialist school wasn’t the right environment either – thankfully we have the best of both worlds and he’s now at a specialist autism school which is part of a mainstream but separate buildings. The change in him since he started there is absolutely immense! Our family life has improved 100%. All because he is in the right environment that meets his needs every day. He was never going to thrive in a mainstream school, no matter the accommodations they put in place for him, unfortunately.

So, onto me. All the while I was focussed on my son, I had lots of “lightbulb” moments when researching both autism and adhd. A lot of things in my life would make much more sense. I 100% believe I am ND – but I’m unsure if I’m autistic or adhd – or both. I have been referred for assessment and again, another long wait. But I’m in no hurry. Knowing would be nice but equally it won’t really change anything for me. I’ve survived 42 years and developed coping mechanisms, mostly. I still heavily mask but that is my armour.

I don’t really talk about it, mainly because I work on my own and don’t have colleagues! I also feel a bit like a fraud because it isn’t official yet – though I totally support self ID for everyone else!

Running a business, taking care of family and household and everything it all entails and being ND is hard work, but I don’t know any different. I try to accommodate myself when I’m having bad days. The nature of my work means I can plan around family things, bad days etc. I’ll never do all the things I’m “supposed” to do in my business – it’s too much – but I get by and I love what I do – the making part anyway! The other stuff I’d quite happily put in the bin haha!

As ever, I’m so very thankful to my customers and social media supporters – the fact I‘m still doing this 8 years on is down to each and every one of you and I thank you from the depths of my heart.

ND Statistics

Promoting neurodiversity involves creating environments that accommodate and celebrate these differences, enabling neurodivergent individuals to thrive and contribute to society in their own way. It may also involve providing appropriate accommodations and support, such as sensory-friendly workspaces, flexible learning environments, and communication strategies that suit the individual’s needs, something which is still so severely lacking in our society, which could be part of the reason there are SO MANY ND people with small businesses. I know for me, there are so many challenges to an employed job, not just around ND but also working hours fitting in with family life.

I reached out in a few Facebook groups I’m in because I wanted to shine a light on the huge range of ND owned small businesses and celebrate the talent and dedication we all have in our chosen fields.

While researching I came across this from The National Autistic Society:

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published new data that shows just 22% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment. This is a shocking figure, which is even lower than previously suggested in surveys our charity has run.19 Feb 2021

(Source: https://www.autism.org.uk/what-we-do/news/new-data-on-the-autism-employment-gap )

Some ND people cannot work in the traditional sense but they are still valid people. Many Autistic and other ND folk WANT TO WORK but are not given the opportunity.

Many neurodivergent (ND) people are drawn to self-employment for several reasons, and this trend can be attributed to a combination of personal preferences, challenges in traditional employment settings, and unique strengths.

Why do so many ND choose self employment?

Many of us start our own businesses because we need an income but also a job that suits our needs for example:

  • Autonomy and flexibility: Self-employment provides greater control over your work environment, schedule, and tasks. This can be especially beneficial for neurodivergent individuals who may have specific needs or preferences related to their routines, workspace and accommodations.
  • Reduced social demands: Traditional workplace settings often involve a significant amount of social interaction, which can be challenging for some neurodivergent individuals. Self-employment allows them to design their work environments to minimize social demands and focus on tasks that align with their strengths.
  • Specialised skills and interests: Many neurodivergent individuals have unique talents and interests that may not be fully used in traditional employment settings. Self-employment allows them to explore and use their specific strengths, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and success.
  • Sensory considerations: Neurodivergent individuals may have sensory needs that can be better accommodated in a self-employment situation. They can create workspaces and conditions that are tailored to their sensory needs, reducing potential discomfort or overstimulation.
  • Reduced discrimination: Unfortunately, discrimination and bias can be challenges for neurodivergent individuals in the workplace. By being self-employed, they may avoid some of the biases and prejudices that can exist in hiring and promotion processes.
  • Pursuit of passions: Self-employment can offer the opportunity to turn personal interests and passions into a livelihood, whether that involves entrepreneurship, freelance work, or creative endeavours.
  • Reduced workplace stress: Some neurodivergent individuals may find that traditional workplace environments are particularly stressful due to factors like sensory overload, rigid social norms, and unclear communication. Self-employment can provide a less stressful and more accommodating work setting.

Not all neurodivergent individuals choose self-employment, and traditional employment can work well for many with the right accommodations and supportive work environments. However, despite many companies claiming to be “disability friendly” the reality is many ND people are overlooked for jobs because of societal attitudes and people only knowing the stereotypical Autistic person portrayed in films and on TV.

This from Elite Business Magazine highlights some of the problems with hiring ND people:

Of 515 HR decision makers surveyed by YouGov, 56% said the main reason disabled people don’t get jobs is because they don’t possess the right skills or qualifications. Furthermore, 41% said their company’s board of directors seldom or never discuss disability and 11% believed disabled people should accept lower paid jobs. Shockingly, almost half admitted it’s easier to recruit a non-disabled person over a disabled person.

(Source: https://elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk/people/item/disabled-people-being-overlooked-by-employers-when-hiring)

For those who do pursue self-employment, it often aligns well with their unique preferences, skills, and needs, making it a viable and fulfilling option. Additionally, there is a growing recognition of the value that neurodivergent individuals can bring to various industries, which has led to initiatives aimed at increasing inclusion and support in both traditional and self-employment settings.

In summary, neurodivergence is a concept that acknowledges the diversity of human neurological functioning and calls for a more inclusive and accepting approach to people with different neurocognitive profiles.

ND Owned Business Showcase

With that all said, I’m really pleased and proud to introduce you to some amazing ND owned small businesses. I know they work with passion and overcome so many obstacles to get through each day, while running a business. I want to celebrate and recognise their achievements, showcase how amazing we all are and challenge the notion that being ND doesn’t mean you’re on the scrapheap!

I’ve written them in alphabetical order for fairness 😊

Affordable, Handmade Jewellery made with love in the UK

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BexCreationsWantage

At Caboodle Textiles we offer a cut length fabrics service to business, work at home mums, crafters and sewing enthusiasts. Caboodle Textiles grew organically from my prior business Caboodle Kids clothing. From here I caught the sewing bug of joyfully making kids clothing to meet the need and personality of the individual.

https://caboodletextiles.co.uk/

Personalised christmas baubles for pet lovers!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/capnebstudio/

Cards & Gift Wrap – home-designed eco-friendly gift-wrapping tape.

https://cardsandgiftwrap.co.uk/product-category/paper-tape

Artist, Illustrator & drinker of tea.

Visit my Etsy shop for sticker packs, sticker sheets, greeting cards and pin badges.

https://cherrelleslaney.etsy.com/

https://www.cherrelleslaney.co.uk/

 

 

Chronic Illness, Mental Health & Disability Gifts

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ColourblindZebra

Stunning tie-dyed clothing and accessories – I have personally bought from Kate and loved all my purchases!

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ColourMeBabyclothing

I’m dyslexic (and likely adhd!) and created sets of products to help people visually map out their ideas. This one is social media mapper cards, there’s step by step content on how to build your brand, and then cards to layout the month ahead. Use the prompt cards included to spark ideas and it’s the easiest content plan ever!

https://www.creativesupporthub.com/mapper-cards

I create happy handmade and illustrated gifts inspired by positivity.

www.CWPhotoArt.Etsy.com

I’m a digital designer and course creator. I have a range of planners & journals, plus merchandise. Photo is my 2024 Planner.

Website: https://naomijanejohnson.co.uk

Online shop: https://designedbynaomi.shop

My name is Kate and I make all kinds of things from my artwork! Most are cute style animals but I do some spooky stuff as well as some empowerment designs for disability/neurodiversity. I live around Nottingham, I have a dog and a tortoise and I love Star wars.

https://drixproductions.etsy.com

www.drixproductions.com

I’m an artist, zine maker and designer, I like to inspire others through connection to nature, magic and the seasons.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/dottydelightful

Vegan fibre art & pet portraits.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/findinghappinessuk/

Fox and Rainbow is a place for brightly coloured, printed apparel and gifts for all of the family. From rainbow baby to runner, sleepover squad to slogans, we customise and personalise a range of different items including t-shirts, baby vests, sleep suits, bags and more. From weddings, to honeymoons, to the family that celebrates alongside you, at Fox and Rainbow can tailor products to suit every occasion, and beyond.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/foxandrainbow/

A kind human making fun things I think up. I cuss a bit and talk politics, equality & empowerment. Cross-stitch & embroidery kits, sweary makes, mugs, badges, accessories and sewing supplies.

https://hellotreaclestore.com

Fuelled by a love for dogs and ADHD hyperfocus, we set out to create a line of dog collars, leads, harnesses, and accessories that not only match your dog’s strength but also their individuality.

https://www.indi-dog.co.uk/

I’m a heritage goldsmith making 28 different colours of gold and specialising in coloured gems.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/isabelladaygoldsmith

The Funky Frecks – my latest publication, a children’s book about healthy friendships.

A Book Review Log Book – where you can keep a record of your favourite books and write quotes, thoughts, star them and more.

https://www.facebook.com/JenLGilmour

https://jennifergilmour.com/

ADHD owned creative studio and marketing photographer by the sea in sunny Scarborough!

https://keepdigital.co.uk/

The Boutique store for luxury candles and diffusers. All made from the finest local ingredients sourced from local suppliers in the Costwolds, England. 

www.libbylavender.co.uk

Gorgeous handmade children’s clothing – I have personally bought from Laura when Roux was younger and the clothes are amazing, bright and long lasting – giving great value for money.

https://littlerainbowshandmade.co.uk/

Natural Gemstone & Aromatherapy Jewellery handmade in Northamptonshire UK

Etsy shop: www.lunardrops.etsy.com

Mad About Money App which helps people to be better with money. We have lots of discounted vouchers to help people save at Christmas and it’s free to download!

https://madaboutmoneyofficial.co.uk/

Unique cards, personalised cards, giftwrap and labels.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/madebysallyjane/

Cabochons and Brooches.

https://www.megaerasrealm.etsy.com

I’m Antonia, I make babywearing slings, accessories and keepsakes. As a recently diagnosed ADHD business owner, looking back over the last 11 years, running my own business meets all of my ADHD needs as there’s always something different happening. I also wear lots of other ‘hats’ – I’m a sling librarian and carrying consultant, doula, maternity campaigner and breastfeeding supporter, as well as being a wife and mother and running a business. It does have it’s challenges and being self employed allows me to have a self care day when I hit burnout because I’ve been hyperfocusing on a new design. If there’s something you’d like see, we’re always up for a chat, I love to find a solution to a problem and make it pretty at the same time.

https://melliapis.com/

I specialise in creating personalised wall prints and greeting cards for your special occasions.

My collection includes prints for nurseries, kids’ rooms, and weddings, with designs that are whimsical, charming, and timeless. From adorable animal illustrations to elegant calligraphy, we have something for everyone.

merrigancreatedesign.etsy.com

I’m dyslexic and my partner has autism. We have a home fragrance business selling home made candles, wax melts, diffusers etc. All our products are vegan friendly and cruelty free and we plant a tree with every purchase to help offset our CO2 emissions.

https://www.newtownscents.com/

Embroidery Kits, Bargello Kits and Needlecraft Patterns.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OhSewBootiful

Custom Handmade Gifts

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1005376808/woodland-deer-in-moonlight-3d-light-up

Eco-friendly glass creations for conscious consumers.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/scarletimpressions

I’m Emmie from stickemshop.com. I have AuDHD plus a whole host of other ailments!

We print business stationery mainly but as an absolute Christmas addict we sell gift stickers too so we’d love to be included.

https://www.stickemshop.com/

Clothes, Accessories and Jewellery Upcycled from Vintage Materials. All made either by hand or on my vintage sewing machine.

https://burt.shop/

I create personalised handmade and printed items, along with business stationery & merch. I also enjoy taking on custom bespoke orders.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TaylorMaydeuk

Gifts with personality for people of all abilities!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/theinclusivegiftco

Natural Wax, Vegan Friendly. Made from sustainable waxes & food grade pigments. UKCA marked.

https://linktr.ee/Thenaturalcrayon

I make clothing and accessories from remnant and offcut fabric.

https://www.facebook.com/thepatchworklark/

Handmade bead and wire tree scultures. I’m Clair, wire tree artist, and owner / creator of Twysted Roots®. Making bead and wire tree sculptures started as a hobby for me in 2014 and after a lot of practice, Twysted Roots was launched in April 2017. Many tree creations have been made since then, some of which can be seen in the gallery, on Deviant Art, and on Pinterest as well as all the usual social media sites.

https://www.twystedroots.co.uk/

I am a self-taught leatherworker just looking to share my craft.

https://www.thecourtyardannan.co.uk/

 

Not ND Owned but products aimed towards ND people.

Educational activity cards for parents of babies, toddlers and children under five and travel games designed for children and adults aged 3-99+!

www.busybrainsactivitypacks.co.uk

 

These are my books I created after my son’s ASD diagnosis. Stories which can be used to help prepare children for our challenging and busy world.

www.suziebooks.co.uk

 

Conclusion

That’s all for the exploration of neurodivergent-owned businesses for this Christmas edition, I hope this post has inspired you. The unique and thoughtfully crafted products offered by these amazing people not only make for extraordinary gifts but also contribute to a more diverse and compassionate marketplace.

In supporting neurodivergent-owned businesses, you’re not just purchasing a product; you’re investing in stories of courage, resilience and creativity. Your choice to celebrate neurodiversity during this festive season echoes the true spirit of Christmas – one of acceptance, love, and understanding.

Thank you for reading.

Kelly x

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