21-27 March 2022 marks Neurodiversity Celebration Week, an opportunity to champion and celebrate the 1 in 7 neurodiverse people living and working here in the UK.
The term ‘neurodiverse’ was first coined in the 1990s by Judy Singer, a sociologist who has autism. It refers to the concept that certain developmental disorders are normal variations in the brain – and people who have these features also have certain strengths. So, for example, people with ADHD may have trouble with time management, but they often show high levels of passion, drive, and creative thinking.
It’s our belief that if nurtured appropriately, neurodiversity in the workplace can be a superpower that gives employees and organisations a competitive edge. We explain more about the different types of neurodiversity and how to support neurodiverse individuals to thrive in our ‘Nurturing the Superpower of Neurodiversity at Work’ workshop.
To mark Neurodiversity Celebration Week, we wanted to share a few snippets from this workshop. You’ll see we focus on some helpful work hacks you can implement to help your neurodiverse employees thrive.
Supporting Dyslexic Employees
Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. Dyslexia can also present difficulties with spoken language. Some people struggling to hear how words can be broken down into individual sounds and syllables. It’s estimated that up to 1 in every 10 to 20 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia.
Microsoft Word is a good resource for fonts and background colours. Changing the background colour to green, for example, can help with reading as can wearing green glasses. You can also download free specialist fonts, such as OpenDyslexic for Mac and PC.
Grammarly will make sure your messages, documents, and social media posts are clear, mistake-free, and impactful. Grammarly’s service goes beyond the basic spell check and grammar check built into the word processor. Grammarly can also identify correctly spelled words that are used in the wrong context.
It’s also worth exploring the use of audio players and recordings to read aloud text. As well as the ‘text to speech’ function on Macs and PCs to dictate spoken word into text.
Supporting employees with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) & (ADD)
One of the biggest differences between ADD and ADHD is that people with ADHD can have a tendency to be hyperactive. On the other hand, people with ADD might fly under the radar because they aren’t bursting with energy.
Those with ADHD or ADD can have trouble ignoring unwanted stimuli (such as background noise or office chat). So they may prefer to use headphones and music to listen to while they are working on tasks at their desk. They may also want to reduce the amount of visual stimuli around them.
Supporting employees with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.
Although 51% of workers on the spectrum have skills higher than what their job requires, people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can find their workplace difficult. Challenges are mainly related to difficulties with communication, social skills and sensory sensitivity.
However, there is plenty that co-workers can do to help, such as:
• Setting clear workplace rules
• Communicating clearly and giving time to process information
• Including a buddy system and circle of friends
• Make sure you have your co-workers attention before you give instructions
• Avoid non-literal language such as metaphors, sarcasm and idioms.
To learn more about neurodiversity in the workplace and how to support neurodivergent people to be comfortable and successful at work, see our ‘‘Nurturing the Superpower of Neurodiversity in the Workplace’ workshop here.