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Neurodiversity in the workplace

Category: Employer Focus, disability, Strength, workforce, Challenges, determine, perception, adjustment

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There are a number of terms used to encompass neurodiversity. Some seem to be possibly seen by some as more negative in their perception describing what people can’t do instead of showcasing the talents and what they can do.

Some people will want a ‘short cut’ to describe some of their challenges so that others may understand.

By understanding each person and their strengths and challenges, some adjustments (many of which may in reality be minimal and not costly) can result in someone hardworking and being a key member of the workforce.

There is often much debate about how terms are used and the labels used and what is determined as ‘correct’. For example, whether someone describes themselves as ‘dyslexic’ or as ‘a person with dyslexia’, or someone is ‘autistic’ or ‘someone with autism’ often sparks extensive debate and discussion.

Getting it right or wrong can seem like a mine field and can sometimes be a reason for some employers to feel they don’t want to engage at all in case they make a mistake and cause offense.

In reality supporting each person as an individual in the context of their lives and the job and helping that person where possible to maximise their talent should be the goal.

As an employer or trainer ask the person what works for YOU. In the end support should always be about each person and not about a label or series of labels.

Terms that may be used to encompass this are:

  • Neurodiversity
  • Hidden impairments
  • (Neuro) Developmental Disorders
  • Hidden disabilities
  • Specific learning difficulties/differences
  • Learning difficulties/Learning differences
  • Non visible impairments

Tips to help with induction

  • Give a named point of contact and their contact details including phone and email.
  • Ask what adjustments the person may need to do the job and agree a work plan together and review points.
  • Ask the employee’s preferred means of communication when being given work e.g. verbal, written, email.
  • Ask the employee what support they require and what environments /tasks can cause them a challenge. e.g. noise, sound, movement, changing settings, talking in a large group.
  • Discuss specific adjustments as this will be dependent on each individual and the job e.g. alternatives to note taking in meetings; avoidance of making presentations in front of others; need for one base/desk to work from.
  • Create a shared document that records agreed actions which can be reviewed.
  • Provide written/visual instructions on how to use equipment especially if have health and safety implications. Some people find filming new tasks on their phone helps them to remind themselves to check again if unsure.
  • Provide the rules of the workplace or training setting. Check for understanding.
    • These should include information if required for example on clothing for different settings, times starting and finishing work; break times; etiquette for tea and coffee making; toilet breaks, and how to address different colleagues.
  • Discuss if the person needs assistance with organisational skills e.g. use of colour coding; diary reminders, setting alarms/reminders on computer/phone, setting up filing systems.
  • Discuss with the employee any particular environmental triggers and discuss together what could be reasonable solutions where possible e.g. turn lights off, use of ear plugs, office placement, sitting near window.
  • Provide templates/samples of letters, proformas or reports to show what is expected, if this is required to be undertaken as a part of the work.
  • Feedback explicitly, and sensitively if there are challenges and agree on actions, record and provide this to the employee and agree review dates.
  • Discuss the need for short and regular meetings.
  • Discuss where possible priorities for the day/week on a regular basis.
  • Discuss, where possible, expected work in advance. Clearly, discuss deadlines and review points so the person can see when and what is expected.
  • Provide a list of appropriate abbreviations, acronyms, phrases and terms that are used in the workplace.
  • Demonstrate as well as discuss new tasks and break down into parts to allow practice slowly and accurately before building up speed. Often people can learn the skills if they have time to practice them.
  • Avoid jokes and sarcasm that may be misinterpreted.
  • Discuss the need for flexible working if this is possible e.g. arriving earlier and leaving earlier to avoid large groups of people and making it easier and less stressful for travel/parking.

VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email [email protected] for more information.

We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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