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Fostering neurodiversity in the workplace

Assuming everyone has the same experience and the same needs leads to problems. Bias, stigma, a lack of awareness, and lack of appropriate infrastructure (such as office setup or staffing structures) can unknowingly exclude people with neurodevelopmental differences. Understanding and embracing neurodiversity in communities, schools, healthcare settings, and workplaces can improve inclusivity for all people.

It is important for all of us to foster an environment that is conducive to neurodiversity, and to recognise and emphasize each person’s individual strengths and talents while also providing support for their differences and needs.

How can you help your colleagues and learners at OP?

Neurological differences allow for diverse skills, perspectives and capabilities in the workplace and help create an enriching experience for all.  Sometimes making small easy adjustments to a space or process provides amazing benefits to neurodivergent people.  Neurological differences amongst people should be recognised and respected.

We need to all

  • Do not make assumptions – ask the persons of the individual preferences, needs, and goals.
  • Identify the specific skills individual staff and learners bring and consider how you can tap into them or have new conversations that come as a result of thinking differently.
  • Be supportive of differences such as different communication styles, different approaches to a task, different work environment needs.
  • While working remotely or from home has always been a possibility, it is now being practised at scale. The ability to work flexibly whether at home or at work, including office set up, break times and alternative methods of communication is a particularly accessible way of working for those who identify as neurodivergent or neurodiverse.
  • Ask what accommodations will make people more productive. Many of these accommodations are straightforward; a quieter area to sit, noise-cancelling headphones, adjustments to lighting or ability to wear sunglasses inside where lighting can’t be changed, text-to-voice software, or a place to decompress or eat lunch in private.
  • Try to give advance notice if plans are changing, and provide a reason for the change.