What is neurodiversity?
Before diving in it is well worth providing a simple definition of what we mean when we use the term ‘neurodiversity.’ Also known as neurodivergence, neurodiversity describes people with atypical neurological differences and is most typically associated with the following:
- Autism spectrum disorder
Neurodiversity or neurodivergence is usually diagnosed early on, but sometimes it is missed and only diagnosed when the person in question is an adult. All of the above are spectrum conditions, with disparate traits and characteristics.
Challenges faced by neurodivergent people in the workplace
There are so many potential challenges a neurodivergent person can face in any workplace, but the biggest issue is that all of these issues which include bullying and unadjusted work environments mean that a neurodivergent person is more likely to develop mental health issues. There are also perceived barriers involved in sharing diagnoses with employers, an increased difficulty in finding and sustaining working positions compared with neurotypical people.
In terms of more specific challenges faced, neurodivergence can make expressing opinions and ideas more difficult, whether verbally or laying out an idea in writing to be emailed or presented. Being asked to read and take action on material on the spot has been reported as a major issue by many. In addition to these practical challenges, there is also the issue of stress over how neurodivergent people are perceived by their colleagues.
What can be done to help neurodivergent people in the workplace?
There are a whole raft of things that can be done to make the experience of neurodivergent people in the workplace a more comfortable and productive one, from short to long-term strategies. It can be well worth soliciting the help of experts such as a team of psychologists who can help lay out detailed plans to help nurture workplace environments that enable neurodiversity to blossom.
When it comes to better accommodating anyone under the umbrella of neurodivergence the biggest factor is inarguably awareness. This involves being proactive in providing information and education in neurodiversity for everyone in the workplace, to nurture a more understanding environment.
People in managerial positions should make it clear that they are open and available to talk. They should also be proactive in asking what support would help and foster a workplace environment where employees feel free to voice concerns or ask for help.
Many people with neurodivergence struggle with excessive noise, which in an office environment, for example, can be an issue. Encouraging a respectful noise level and enabling the use of noise cancelling headphones, for instance, can both help.
Something as simple as recognising that different font colours can help people with dyslexia and giving them this flexibility can be a big help.