If you are joining us from Part One of our blog on neurodiversity, you are already taking steps to educate yourself and become an advocate for neurodivergent folks. This is a huge part of deconstructing certain neurotypical-based mindsets and beliefs that can cause harm. As an ableist society, we must do more to support the neurodivergent community. Healthcare staffing agencies like AHCS are huge advocates for neurodiversity education and awareness. We firmly believe that each of us carries value and is worthy of happiness, comfort and help when we need it.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s discuss how to approach neurodiversity in the workplace.
When we discuss neurodivergence, we must also talk about accommodations. Accommodations are specific supports that may be requested or recommended to allow someone to live more comfortably, work more productively, as well as feel happier, accepted, at ease, and understood. These supports can be extremely beneficial to mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
In order to perform and function at our best, we must meet our body’s basic needs – that means eating enough food, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, etc. If any of these essentials are lacking, our mental and physical well-being suffers. In much the same way, neurodivergent people have additional basic needs that if neglected, can have a detrimental impact. In some cases, supports can mean medication or therapy, in other cases it can mean special accommodations like noise-cancelling headphones or specific approaches to how they work. Accommodations are important in and out of the workplace – and when these needs are met, everyone benefits.
Asking For Support
In theory, this should be an easy thing to do – as support is something we all need from time to time. Unfortunately, and especially in the case of neurodiversity, this isn’t always the case. There is still a level of judgment and discrimination attached to neurodivergence, and many don’t feel safe being open about their neurodivergence. This is where potentially harmful practices like “masking” can further perpetuate the shame associated with existing outside of neurotypical norms and standards. Masking is when a neurodivergent person mimics the behaviours of neurotypical people while hiding their authentic traits, in order to feel accepted and respected. Of course, masking only creates an additional layer of stress and difficulty by forcing a person who is already struggling – to fight their mental, emotional and physiological instincts and natural inclinations.
Neurodivergent Employees Offer Unique Skills and Perspectives in the Workplace
It’s imperative that we draw attention to all of the undeniable ways neurodivergent employees add value to a workforce, far beyond legal obligations and fair treatment.
Neurodivergent team members may excel in various areas, such as:
- Creativity and innovation
- Strategic analysis
- Critical thinking
- Identifying new methods of problem-solving
- Detail-oriented projects
- Areas that require a specialized or unique skillset
- Consistency and accuracy in repetitive tasks
- Areas that require lateral, “think outside the box” abilities and perspectives
If we can all work toward a more accepting society in and out of the workplace, we can all start to embrace our differences and use them to our advantage. This is very much the case with neurodivergence, and it all starts with educating ourselves and allowing those around us to feel safe being their authentic selves.