Beyond Visible: How to Accommodate Neurodiversity in the Workplace

The modern workplace is a diverse and welcoming place for people from all backgrounds and walks of life. With training given to address all areas of diversity and inclusion, including unconscious bias training and how to support different social backgrounds at work, most people find the modern office workplace to be a place of inclusion and safety.

However, there is one area that is much more difficult to accommodate for and to be inclusive of at work, and that is the topic of neurodiversity.

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is an umbrella term that covers all kinds of hidden disabilities and differences in learning styles, such as Dyslexia, Autism, and ADHD, that affect huge swathes of the population.

Although most people consider learning styles in children, the true fact is that a neurodiverse child will in all likelihood become a neurodiverse adult who also needs support.

Supporting neurodiverse adults is simpler than you’d imagine, and the best part is that once a neurodiverse adult has the right support in place, you’ll find that they can flourish in their role and really begin to make a positive impact in your company.

Here are four ways you can help to support neurodiversity which ensures everyone in your company wins.

Focus on Training

Training, training, training. There is no better way to support neurodiverse adults than ensuring their colleagues have thorough training.

This training is easy to include within your diversity and inclusion training right now. It should cover topics such as a brief overview of the three major learning difficulties and what wight Autism and ADHD are, and the strengths these adults will bring to your team.

Training should never be focused on what neurodiverse individuals “can’t” do, but it should shine a light on the positive benefits of neurodiverse thinking and how to best support these individuals to allow them to shine.

Flexible Start and Finish Times

Flexibility is something that neurodiverse individuals will really benefit from.

One of the downsides of practically every neurodiverse difference is that they will suffer from poor time management and planning, and sleep is usually severely impacted, especially in disorders such as ADHD.

Implementing flexible start and finish times will allow your neurodiverse employees to get into work when they can, setting them up for a more positive start to the day.

Quiet Spaces

Modern classrooms for children are usually brightly colored with lots of decoration. For a neurodiverse child, this can be overwhelming and actually detrimental to their ability to concentrate.

Imagine that as an adult in an open plan office with people going backward and forwards all day, and you realize how hard it may be to concentrate.

Provide dedicated quiet areas in your office with minimal decoration and stimulation, and allow your workforce (neurodiverse or not) to use the space whenever they need to.

Provide Support as Standard

Lastly, support should be provided as standard. 

Things like dictation software, colored overlays, a seamless working diary, and the ability to change meetings from sit-down meetings to walking meetings will be a welcome change for most neurodiverse adults and even those without any recognized cognitive differences.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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