Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

08 Feb 2021, 10:42 a.m.

Request: Advice on Working Well With Neuroatypical People in Open Source

I am writing a book about managing legacy open source software projects, and I'd like to include a chapter on supporting neuroatypical people. The goal of the chapter would be to demystify several neuroatypicalities and to provide frameworks and specific advice for working with, accommodating, and supporting neuroatypical people in FLOSS contexts.

I've been having a hard time finding resources on a few particular topics:

  • mental health-specific analysis and advice on common dynamics in open source (such as volunteer overcommitment, lack of clarity who has power over whom, and public criticism from strangers)
  • supporting a teammate with ADHD*
  • supporting an anxious teammate

(It seems somewhat easier to find resources regarding supporting depressed or autistic teammates.)

Do you have any suggested articles, books, videos, or people to consult? If you have time to give me a few links or names, I would welcome any pointers, or even just better keywords to use when searching.

(I've already taken a first look through the Open Source and Feelings playlists and Open Sourcing Mental Illness but may have missed things.)

* [footnote from Feb. 8th] I'm reasonably sure this ["an ADHD teammate"] is an accepted way to refer to a person who has Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder; lemme know if I'm wrong. [note from Feb. 25th] Discussion on Twitter, CHADD, and the National Center on Disability and Journalism style guide tell me that person-first language is preferred for this case, so I've switched the phrasing to "a teammate with ADHD". I was surprised to learn of the person-first preference, since many of the disability activists I know prefer identity-first in general and regarding their specific disabilities, so I tried to double-check in case there is a prominent ADHD advocacy organization that prefers identity-first language, but couldn't find one. Let me know if I'm wrong!