Important Things to Know About Supporting Neurodivergent People in The Workforce
Neurodiversity refers to variation in the human brain. This term highlights how diverse everyone’s mind is regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood, and a plethora of other non-pathological mental functions. Neurodiversity isn’t an option or perspective but a biological fact. Recognizing that human minds are capable of infinite variations that manifest in each person differently is a step closer to a world that offers equality and inclusion for the neurodivergent. At KNR, we believe that the workplace is a crucial place to embrace neurodiversity. Here are several ways to support neurodivergent people every day.
Become Neurodiversity Aware
A big step towards becoming an ally for your neurodivergent co-workers is understanding ableism- the discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities. Ableism is embedded in the laws and behavior of our culture. From overt ableism failing to incorporate accessibility into building design plans to more passive behaviors like choosing an inaccessible venue for a meeting or event, it’s important to recognize how people with disabilities are discriminated against. For many, it’s tougher to address ableism within the neurodiverse community because brain differences aren’t as easy to visually categorize. You can start by identifying and addressing ableist language- words that are used in a derogatory, abusive, or negative way about or towards people with disabilities. While the world is much easier to navigate for those who fit into a more acceptable version of what society has deemed “normal”, when we can recognize the ways that society prohibits those who exhibit neurodiverse behaviors, we’re able to see our own potential biases more clearly and work towards a more inclusive future.
Learn How to Communicate Effectively
It’s important to establish a culture in which talking about neurodiversity is welcome and will not be held against employees or make them feel isolated. Normalizing these conversations means talking to your neurodivergent workers about how they would like to be accommodated. What tools one individual needs to succeed may be different from what another person needs. Remember, neurodivergent people routinely face ableism throughout their lives, making it difficult for some of them to disclose their issues in the workplace. Communicating with your neurodiverse employees through adopting identity-first language is an effective way to being open and understanding. Identity-first language emphasizes that someone’s disability plays a role in who they are while reinforcing the disability as a positive cultural identifier. If you’re not sure how someone would like to be referred to, it is best practice to use identity-first language if you cannot ask them directly.
Once you’ve established communication with your neurodiverse employees, it’s time to listen and act. With time and effort, it will become a part of your company culture. However, you still need to accommodate, be flexible and embrace neurodiversity in your workplace. Come back soon for part 2!