Melissa's neurodiversity story

Melissa Girvan Grant’s career as a Registered Nurse spans thirty years, and in that time, she’s had many different roles. 

After spending a number of years focused on quality and risk, around five years ago, Melissa decided it was time to step back in to a frontline role. Melissa then spent four years working from home in a triaging role, prior to working at Counties Manukau Health. 

A Registered Nurse and Duly Authorised Officer, Melissa has been as part of the intake and assessment team within the Mental Health Crisis team for just over one year. 

Melissa is also neurodiverse – she has been clinically diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder 1, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Tourettes and Alexithymia. 

“I always knew that I was different, but for years I went undiagnosed.  There are a lot of women who have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum later in life, because for many years, autism was believed to predominantly affect males”, says Melissa. 

Melissa continues “It was actually through my work here at Counties Manukau Health, that my journey began towards diagnosis and understanding my neurodiversity. One day when I working in the Emergency Department, a Psychologist colleague said to me, I think you might be on the Autism spectrum”. 

So began the journey, and Melissa is now well supported through the Community Mental Health team, and says her own experience helps her to empathise and connect with tangata whaiora, adding a richness and authenticity to the experience she is able to provide.

Melissa says “Being neurodiverse does present some challenges for me in the working environment, things like shared toilets and certain types of lines, corners and patterns affect my OCD, but my team is always there for me. They’re an awesome bunch that I just love working with. I also have fidget toys on my desk which I use to cover the corners and edges on my work station are a big help.” 

Melissa’s message to others who may not have experience with neurodiversity is simple.  “We’ve got so much to offer, and sometimes see things that others don’t because our brains are wired differently. If we can all work together, embracing our differences, we can do amazing mahi together.”

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