Raising Neurodiversity Awareness at Work

Four people are stacking their hands on top of each other.

Featured image by Kindel Media, Pexels

Neurodiversity awareness is a crucial aspect at work for both employers and employees. Find out about what neurodiversity awareness is, and why and how to raise it. Also learn more about neurodiversity workshops, how to reach out to neurodiverse candidates during recruitment, and reasonable adjustments.

What is neurodiversity awareness?

The inside of a multicoloured umbrella

Image by Alexander Grey, Pexels

Neurodiversity awareness is when people make themselves more aware of neurodiversity. Types of neurodiversity can include the following:

  • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
  • Autism (also known as autistic spectrum disorder, or ASD)
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Tourette syndrome

Doctor Nancy Doyle and people from Genius Within have studied a few papers on neurodiversity awareness training. They found that neurodiversity awareness training can work if the following points are put into practice:

  • There is knowledge transfer to reduce “otherness.”
  • Contact time to reduce “otherness.”
  • Employees from HR and leadership are present in the training.
  • Mandatory training to signify company priority.
  • Creating positive identity for majorities.

Why raise neurodiversity awareness at work?

A woman is interviewing a man for a job.

Image by Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels

Raising neurodiversity awareness at work:

  • Helps employers fill in open positions in the workplace.
  • Benefits co-worker collaboration.
  • Makes existing neurodivergent staff more comfortable about disclosing.
  • Helps employers understand the traits of neurodiverse individuals and how they can affect their working technique.
  • Gives employers a better idea of how to interview neurodiverse candidates.
  • Helps employers focus on neurodiverse employees’ strengths rather than their traits that might impose negative connotations.
  • Prompts changes to people management approaches, such as officers no longer needing their line manager to sign their application form during the application process at The National Police Autism Association (NPAA).

How to raise awareness of neurodiversity at work

Several people in white suits hold up signs that say, "EQUAL."

Image by cottonbro studio, Pexels

Ways to raise neurodiversity awareness at work include using positive, inclusive language in handbooks and job descriptions, for example, being aware of legal obligations, such as ensuring employees are not discriminated against; and rewarding and recognising the hard work of neurodiverse employees.

Other ways to raise neurodiversity awareness at work are as follows:

Hold neurodiversity awareness workshops

Five people are in a room. Three are sitting on armchairs and a couch, one is standing between the armchairs, and the other is standing beside a flip chart with sticky notes on it.

Image by Alena Darmel, Pexels

Exceptional Individuals offer neurodiversity awareness workshops that they can tailor to specific organisations. In a half-day workshop, we can make employers and employees aware of neurodiversity, including co-occurring conditions, as well as common misconceptions and stereotypes; associated challenges and strengths; potential impact on mental health and general well-being. Neurodiversity Specialists can also advise employers on what they can do to support their neurodiverse employees.

Full-day workshops cover the same topics as half-day workshops, plus the topic of disclosure and how to support it; the importance of signposting and understanding of available resources; understanding reasonable adjustments; the Equality Act 2010; and Access to Work grants.

Reach out directly to neurodiverse candidates

A person is having a video call with another on a laptop screen.

Image by Mikhail Nilov, Pexels

Ways to reach out directly to neurodiverse candidates during the recruitment process include:

  • Removing barriers from job advertisements (such as making language simple and specific to the job that is being advertised).
  • The employer clarifying that their company accepts neurodiverse candidates.
  • Understanding expectations for each applicant.
  • Letting the candidate know what to expect, such as the type of interview and how long the process should take.
  • Offering alternative interview formats to face-to-face interviews, such as by audio phone call, instant messaging, or video call.
  • Asking direct and literal questions and expecting literal answers.
  • Making the interview a multi-day process if necessary.

Make neurodiversity-friendly adjustments to working practices

A woman is working at her desk at home.

Image by PNW Production, Pexels

These are also known as reasonable adjustments. The following are especially beneficial for neurodiverse employees:

  • A working environment with minimal distractions
  • A professional workplace needs assessment if one does not already exist.
  • Specialist training for the individual
  • Options for flexible working, such as reduced hours or working from home.
  • Clear and concise written and verbal communication
  • Structured routines
  • Appropriate software, such as speech recognition (also known as assistive technology)
  • Adjustments to reduce the chances of overworking leading to stress and burn-out.
  • Taking short breaks for 10 – 15 minutes throughout the day.
  • Focusing on one task at a time rather than multi-tasking.
  • Setting a timer on a phone or computer to bring the employee back to focus if they tend to go off track.

If you are neurodivergent, you can find out about neurodiversity workshops and information on recruiting neurodiverse individuals on the Exceptional Individuals website.

Blog Author

April Slocombe