By Emma Humphris, (Senior Assistant Psychologist, Lexxic Ltd)
Approximately 10% of the UK population is neurodiverse, but how many receive the support at work to fulfil their potential?. Considering that only 1 in 10 organisations report considering neurodiversity in their HR practices, that’s not many.
At Lexxic, we strive to bridge this gap by providing neurodiverse individuals in the workplace with the tools and strategies to achieve their potential and overcome the barriers currently holding them back. These adjustments do not have to be expensive, time-consuming or complicated and can often make a huge difference to an employee’s experience of work.
What do we mean by the term neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity refers to the different ways people process information in the world around them. Each of the neurodiverse conditions, such as, dyslexia, Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Conditions and dyscalculia, have specific associated difficulties. However, some difficulties also overlap. For example, someone with ADHD and dyslexia, may struggle with concentration, whereas individuals with Developmental Coordination Disorder and Autism Spectrum Conditions may experience sensory sensitivities.
The first step to nurturing neurodiversity at work is organisational awareness. Fully understanding the different neurodiverse conditions and how they may affect an individual at work arms organisations with the information needed to provide their employees with reasonable adjustments appropriate to them. We offer awareness sessions and eLearning modules targeted at the Line Manager and HR level, to support them to see how a neurodiverse individual may experience work, and what can be done to alleviate any difficulties they currently face.
With an understanding of the different difficulties associated with neurodiverse conditions, must also come an acknowledgement of the strengths such conditions bring. In our experience, neurodiverse employees possess high levels of creativity, an ability to identify novel solutions and different perspectives that neurotypical employees may not have considered. Autistic employees often show a depth of knowledge that typically only comes with years of experience within a field and employees with ADHD bring a level of energy and enthusiasm that many of their colleagues may benefit from adopting. As a whole, supporting and embracing neurodiversity will only serve to create a stronger, more varied workforce that resembles the array of talent to be found in the UK population.
How is this support provided?
Neurodiverse conditions, such as dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder and ADHD, are specific learning difficulties, meaning that particular areas of learning, rather than all areas of learning are affected. To truly understand the impact this is having on an employee’s working life, Lexxic recommend workplace assessments. Gaining an in-depth insight of the job role, task list and the challenges faced for individuals daily enables the identification of key difficulties in their current position, as well as any environmental factors that may contribute.
As you would expect, specific areas of difficulty call for particular recommendations of support. In a tailored workplace assessment report, adjustments at both the individual level and the organisational level are provided to target those particular areas that for the individual, may be preventing their talents to shine through fully.
Adjustments may include:
- Text-to-Speech software, to support with processing written information and proofreading;
- A reduction in targets to work under less pressure, focus on written work and maintain higher levels of accuracy;
- Regular Line Manager discussions to help keep effective control over workload;
- Examples of written work to guide what ‘good’ looks like;
- Clear written instructions following a structured format;
- Noise-cancelling headphones to block out background noise;
- One-to-one coaching with Lexxic, to introduce and practise further tailored strategies with the support of a neurodiverse specialist in a range of topics, including reading, writing and confidence;
- eLearning modules for the employee on a variety of issues, including organising workload, reading effectively and concentrating;
- eLearning awareness modules for employers on dyslexia, ADHD and Autism spectrum conditions;
- Neurodiversity awareness session for Line Managers, HR Professionals and fellow employees, to heighten the understanding of neurodiversity in the workplace.
Why is this so important?
Leaving employees who have had the confidence to disclose their neurodiverse condition with no further support, risks them feeling isolated, despondent and frustrated. However, through the implementation of a combination of soft skill recommendations, assistive technology and coaching, we find that employees are enabled to establish their own coping strategies to tackle any challenges within their role and focus on ensuring their talents, rather than their difficulties, triumph.
Additionally, spreading the understanding of neurodiversity amongst organisations via awareness sessions and eLearning sets a precedent for future employees to look up to, encouraging open and honest conversations about neurodiversity to take place.
Neurodiversity can be a key, rather than a barrier to success, with the right support in place. However, to get there, the most effective, yet simple first action organisations need to take is to TALK. Creating a working environment where the key focus is supporting all employees with their areas of difficulty will help to encourage open and honest conversations to take place.
Together, let’s create working environments that welcome talent in all forms.
Emma works as a Senior Assistant Psychologist for Lexxic Ltd. Lexxic is an occupational psychology consultancy working with adults with neurodiverse conditions in the workplace. Lexxic offers a wide range of services – from initial diagnosis, or screening and workplace assessments – through to follow up services like coaching, training or 1:1 support.
Could you support our campaign?
The CIPD Manchester Branch campaign includes a Twitter chat, podcasts an ignite talk as well as a series of blog posts. The blogs have been written by a range of people,, some working in HR and L&D. Some blogs are written by neurodivergent individuals from a personal perspective and others from neurotypical people. We are very grateful for peoples contributions in helping us explore how we can better support neurodivergence in our organisations, and help us to step-up the pace of change and inclusion.
If you would like to contribute a blog and share your personal experience or that of your organisation, please get in touch.
Read the series
- The case for neurodiversity at work
- Open up your mind
- How to create a neurodiversity-friendly workplace
- Understanding the benefits of neurodiversity
- How can we support neurodiversity in the workplace?
- Strengths not disorders
- How inclusive is your organisation? | Ignite Talk
- Responding to neurodiversity amongst customers and employees
- Neurodiversity and Performance Management
We look forward to your reading, listening and contributing to this campaign. Please leave us your comments below and don’t hesitate to share this article with your networks.
Together we can make a difference by raising awareness.