Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion

Neurodiversity is about recognising that people think about things differently. Most people’s brains work and interpret information similarly, however, others interpret information in different ways. This is just another way of accessing your environment.

Why it’s important that organisations embrace and support neurodiversity in the workplace

Organisations are realising that a diverse set of skills, experiences, perspectives and background fosters innovation. In turn, this can  increase productivity, customers’ needs are better catered for, along with shaping products and services offered.

The National Autistic Society reports that only 16% of adults with autism are in full time work. Many people with autism can work and are enthusiastic to find jobs which reflects their talent and interests. With a little understanding and small adjustments to the workplace, they can be a real asset to businesses across the UK.

What we are doing to attract and retain neurodivergent people

  • We have raised awareness of neurodivergent conditions, such as autism, among colleagues and managers, so that they are best placed to support neurodivergent colleagues in the workplace.
  • We have provided training for line managers on supporting and managing colleagues with autism.
  • We are constantly refining our job descriptions to give candidates a clearer sense of what’s involved in the job role.
  • We have taken steps to update our candidate packs. We are in the process of redesigning our recruitment webpages to ensure we are accessible to all.
  • We are currently reviewing our recruitment processes to maximise inclusion by ensuring our values are aligned with our recruitment.
  • We work with candidates to understand what support, if any, they will need if appointed. This can involve  adjustments to the sensory environment, such as providing quiet spaces to work, assistive software, noise-cancelling headphones, buddying and sensory aids.

 The Assembly Commission is a signatory of the Government’s Disability Confident Campaign – we are a Disability Confident Employer and have also been awarded the National Autism Society Autism Friendly Award.

As an employee at the Assembly Commission with a diagnosis of Autism and ADHD, I feel accepted for who I am, as a person living with these disabilities. The organisation has been very supportive towards my wish to work part-time as this is so suitable for my needs.

It was a great honour to deliver a presentation at a staff training session about autism where I had the chance to talk about my personal experiences in this area. This specialised staff training session greatly helped me and my line manager understand my needs and reasonable adjustments have been carried out as a result.

I look forward to continuing to gain more skills and experience during my employment here and continue to avidly contribute to the day-to-day running of the organisation.”

Assembly Commission employee

 

One thought on “Neurodiversity in the Workplace

  1. Neurodiversity: Is being ‘different’ a disability, or is it the neurotypicals who are really in trouble?

    The latest Assembly Blog of the National Assembly of Wales outlines the approach of the Assembly to what it calls ‘our neurodivergent colleagues’. By this they mean ‘people who think differently’. Hold on a moment – that’s people like me there’re talking about! I have what was, until the Psychiatric profession recently abolished it, Asperger’s Syndrome. And I find the way that so-called ‘normal’ folk think and act very odd indeed.

    Yes, I do indeed think differently. After one particularly controversial development programme virtually fell apart, and I stepped in to sort it, a very highly-placed official of the Donors wrote back to Head Office saying, “Doug finds problems that no one else even know exist – but then he finds solutions!” So one of the things that I do object to is the widely held attitude that we Aspies are somehow disadvantaged, a bit feeble-minded, dumb, or just plain weird.

    From my perspective, it’s actually the unfortunately mentally incapacitated neurotypicals that have the disability, not me!

    I’m a scientist – have been for over 65 years now. I’ve had a fabulous career as a freelance ‘loner’ Consultant, travelled the world, seen the bits that few others ever have the chance to see. So if you’ve been following the current debate on scientific integrity you’ll know that science as a whole is in an intellectual crisis. The majority of research results, almost across the board, are impossible to reproduce. Even that bastion of respectability, physics, is in disarray. At the same time, fraudulent reporting is increasing, with many scientists acknowledging that they have seen many of their colleagues fixing their results. They are, however, curiously reluctant to concede that they might actually have done so themselves!

    There are numerous causes and influences responsible for this collapse of ethical integrity in science, but the greatest drivers are the commercialisation of research and the straightjacket of the education system. These are mutually catalytic, establishment policies ained at reinforcing aspects of the same problem – the inconvenient dissidents in the research sector. Both processes (commercialisation and education) impose severe pressures to conform on anyone who challenges the currently-favoured scientific consensuses or steps out of line with ‘normality’.

    We are now training a generation of compliant yes-persons (women, like we Aspies, being now acknowledged to be quite good at research!), the crowning achievement of the programme to develop and endorse the controllable neurotypical researcher. The result is the virtual elimination of the neurodivergent from the research profession.

    Only today the Times Higher Education ran an article entitled ‘Authorship: are the days of the lone research ranger numbered?’, echoing the concern of eminent loners such as James Lovelock, lone researcher par exellence and proposer of the Gaia Theory of planetary auto-regulation. Everything is done in teams today, eliminating precisely those neurodivergent geniuses on whose magnificent insights modern science is still utterly dependent. Google’s ‘Deep MInd’ project aims to use artifical intelligence to weed out all web sites containing non-consensual views on scientific topics and relegate them to the botton of search engine lists – 1984 is already here to stay!

    Almost all of the great steps forward in science have been made by the ‘loners’ – Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Maxwell, and many others have produced simple and elegant new rules whereby we obtained new understanding of the universe around us. Insights that indeed were made by those whom our psychiatrists would now class as ‘neurodivergent’. They looked at evidence in a different way to that of the ‘normal’ researchers of their days, published their own ideas as single authors, and changed the world as a result. Yet they were invariably regarded as beyond the pale by many of their contemporaries, until their detractors were eventually forced to concede that the new ways of thinking about their problems actually were sound and beneficial to understanding.

    So I find the comment in this blog that ‘With a little understanding and small adjustments to the workplace, they (the neurodivergent) can be a real asset to businesses across the UK.’ remarkably patronising. From my perspective it has always seemed to me that precisely such actions would be beneficial to my ‘normal’ colleagues – but then, I would say that wouldn’t I!

    Doug Cross, CBiol, CSci, FRSB, etc!

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