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Neurodiversity at RPS: Connor’s Story

12 October 2023 | 2 min read
Connor King In South Africa - Neurodiversity at RPS: Connor’s Story

Connor King loves rocks. Crystals, minerals, magma, the whole lot. From the formation of particular geological patterns to the intricate process that occurs under the surface of the earth, Connor is fascinated about learning it all. By his own assessment, he is a certified Rockoholic.

With a lifelong interest in the field, Connor pursued Geology at Plymouth University, followed by an MSc at UCL, which helped him obtain a role in the Training Team in the Energy Sector at RPS as a Geoscience Technical Assistant.

Though you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at or talking to Connor, he has struggled with Dyspraxia his whole life. “I loved to read and was in the upper percentiles for spelling and vocabulary, but in years 5/6, my school tested me for dyslexia, as my handwriting was bad enough to affect my SAT results.” Says Connor. “It was then that I was diagnosed with dyspraxia."

Connor remembers various signs that indicated he had Dyspraxia even before his diagnosis. “As a child, I struggled with fine motor control specifically with holding a pen. I still hold a pen differently today! I also struggled to ride a bike without stabilisers.”

The condition affected many basic activities in his childhood and though many of these struggles have waned since then, some have not. “Staying focused was and is a struggle, even being given my own table in primary school, called my ‘concentration station’.”

Despite this, it’s never slowed him down. At University College London, Connor got the opportunity to study the formation processes of Lunar regolith samples, specifically working on samples collected by astronauts on the Apollo 12 expedition. Regolith is the term given to the gravelly, sandy material that covers the Moon’s surface, created over billions of years of meteorite impacts. Through this experience, Connor’s love for Geology grew even further.

At RPS, Connor gets to exercise his passion by helping organise geology courses and acting as a Safety Officer on field courses.  Lucky for him, he has all the necessary skills in place for him to thrive. “Geology can be a very practical or visual science and requires thinking in 3D and 4D, which comes naturally to me. My planning and problem-solving skills came in handy while studying MSc in Geoscience at UCL too. I also find learning other languages straightforward and fun. Speaking is difficult, as it was in English for me, but reading and writing is easier.”

Dyspraxia is a learning difficulty characterised by challenges in movement, coordination, and balance. This can affect daily living skills, social skills, as well as time management, planning and personal organisation skills. “The easiest way to explain it is to imagine having to do everything with your non-dominant hand- you can do it, but it’s harder or not as neat or not how you imagined it in your head.”

Connor In South Africa - Neurodiversity at RPS: Connor’s Story

Despite this, Connor has often been divided by his feelings on his condition, opting, in the past, to rely on himself than seek professional help. “I refused support for managing dyspraxia throughout my education as I wanted to prove to myself that I could achieve things on my own. However, I realised too late that this was a mistake; as dyspraxia is often misunderstood or not even known, making self-help very difficult in adult life.”

As Connor has learnt more about his condition and learned to live with it, he constantly aims to educate and help others with similar conditions. At RPS, Connor is part of the Neurodivergent Alliance Group and works hard to raise awareness and spread positive messages. The Neurodivergent Alliance Group highlights different employees across RPS with neurodiverse conditions and gives them the spotlight to tell their stories. Connor himself shared his story across social media on National Dyspraxia Week. The group also plan on hosting luncheons and educational events in the future to raise further awareness. Connor is working hard to make RPS even more inclusive and hopes the RPS experience is as welcoming for everyone as it has been for him. 

“As I’ve learnt more about dyspraxia and other neurodiverse conditions, I’ve realised it’s not something to be hidden. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. A workplace that is inclusive of neurodiverse people will naturally create a workplace that accounts for other differences in workstyle, even for those without neurodiverse needs.”

Though there are many ups and downs, it’s safe to say that Connor’s confidence is etched in stone. “The biggest strength it has given me is tenacity. When basic tasks are difficult it means I’m used to not giving up."