Neurodiversity is a fairly new term for most people to try and get their heads around.
It is an exciting time to be a neurodivergent individual, watching as interest and awareness grows, and hoping that it won’t be too long before this moves to acceptance both in society and in the workplace.
The term neurodiversity means including everyone regardless of whether you’re neurotypical or neurodivergent. This is very important – it isn’t about creating “them and us” cultures, like wizard folk and Muggles.
Within the word neurodiversity, there are other equally as big and tricky to spell words such as neurodiverse and neurodivergent. There are many neurodiverse conditions that fall under this umbrella term. As we all get used to this new terminology it is vital that we remember that neurodiverse means more than just the better know conditions like Autism and Dyslexia.
There are many conditions such as:
- Tourette Syndrome
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
It is vital that we are aware of these other conditions so that individuals who experience them can also have a voice and get access to the support that they need to thrive.
According to data 15% of the population have a diagnosed neurodiverse condition. This means that the actual number of neurodivergent individuals is probably far greater and highlights why it’s important for businesses to take notice, and become proactive and not reactive in recognising neurodiversity.
The interesting thing about neurodiverse conditions is that most of them have an impact of some kind on executive functioning, which is vital to be able to manage everyday life and be as productive as possible.
You don’t have to have a neurodiverse condition to experience issues with executive functioning. Individuals who are feeling stressed, experiencing poor mental health or dealing with an unpleasant time in their life also experience challenges with their executive functioning. This often leads to time off sick, presentism, and lateness plus a host of other non-helpful business issues such as accidents and human errors.
The solution to this great problem is to look at inclusion as a culture change, putting in place a strategy that can enable each and every employee to thrive on a day when they are at their worst. Get this right and all employees will be able to make a difference every day including the days they struggle with the most.
The employee who just broke their right hand is still able to send out emails and complete that report which was needed today, because they have access to speak-to-write software that also benefits those with dyslexia.
The employee who is worried sick about their child who is away from home for the first time on a school trip is still able to function thanks to the clear communication policy which means emails are kept prompt and direct with clear calls to action. A policy that was put in place to be helpful to those with communication challenges and where English is not the first language.
When inclusion is done well – everyone wins.