From a dream to a reality

That time flies, I certainly don't need to draw a picture because on September 20, 2023, I will celebrate my two-year anniversary at Calibrate. When I had the opportunity to participate in the Drupal Dev Days in Ghent in April 2022, I immediately realized what a warm atmosphere there was within the Drupal Community.

During my week at Drupal Dev Days, I not only made my first commit on, but immediately thought that being a speaker at a conference would be a huge feeling and motivation boost.

And oh boy, was it true? Definitely! A year after Drupal Dev Days, without much thought, I submitted my abstract for a talk at DrupalCon Lille 2023. Secretly I was hoping from the moment I clicked the submit button that my talk would be chosen for the event in Lille and I can already say that I jumped a hole in the air when I read the email that I was selected.

The feeling that went through me then is hard to describe, but one thing went through me and that was pride. A pride that I had not experienced before. It wasn't just personal. No, it was also a pride that I got to give a talk on behalf of Calibrate, my employer who itself deals well with Tourette's, about how other companies in the tech industry can do exactly what Calibrate is doing for me.

To tic, or not to tic.

Whether I ever thought that I was not going to find work because of my tics is not a lie. That my first employer was going to handle it so well, that seemed like a pipe dream until a few years ago.

Living with Tourette's is no laughing matter, both for myself and those around me, but from day 1 at Calibrate I was well received and certain measures were taken. For example, before the start of my first day at work, our coordinator had informed all colleagues that someone new would be starting who has tics. For me, this was quite a relief because of awkward situations, which I know all too well. The most comfortable atmosphere is when those around me know in advance that sometimes there may be a tic. This is why I had agreed with the coordinator to inform all new colleagues who would start after me that I have Tourette's myself, and to this day everyone has responded positively.

Also, when I have a meeting with a new client, I inform them in advance that I may have occasional tics because of my Tourette's. Like my colleagues, all the clients I have had to meet with have responded positively to that.

Neurodiversity Matters!

On October 18, I want to spread the message that neurodiversity is a contemporary phenomenon and that each person experiences it differently and has different needs. It will be a talk with some personal examples I got to experience in my two years at Calibrate, but also with some tips I want to give to business leaders so we can make the tech industry a welcoming place for everyone. Be there or be square!