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In Our Own Words: The Workplace Through Neurodivergent Eyes

CLoseup portrait of a woman writing in notepad at officeDear HR Professionals and Company Leaders,

As a neurodivergent employee, I represent a unique yet often overlooked segment of your workforce. Neurodiversity includes a wide range of neurological differences, from Autism Spectrum Disorder to ADHD, Dyslexia, and beyond. Each of us brings a distinctive set of skills and perspectives that, when leveraged, can significantly contribute to our workplace's creativity, efficiency, and problem-solving capabilities.

However, our journey within the professional world isn't devoid of challenges. While we navigate through our day-to-day tasks, we often encounter barriers that may not be evident to our neurotypical counterparts. It's vital for organizations like ours to understand and address these challenges to not only enhance our productivity but also to foster an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity in its true essence.

Communication within the workplace is a common hurdle. Many of us find implicit communication—such as sarcasm, subtle hints, or euphemisms—confusing and unclear. Direct and straightforward instructions help in eliminating misunderstandings and enable us to perform our tasks more efficiently and effectively.

Social interactions, another integral part of workplace dynamics, often pose significant difficulties. Networking events, team outings, and even casual office meet-ups can be overwhelming. What seems like simple socializing to others can sometimes require a tremendous amount of mental and emotional effort from someone who is neurodivergent.

Additionally, sensory sensitivities are a real and pressing concern for many of us. The bustling environment of a typical office—be it the incessant ringing of phones, the harsh lighting, or the constant chatter—can impede our ability to concentrate and deliver our best work.

Yet, amidst these hurdles, we thrive under routines and predictable structures which help in managing our day-to-day uncertainties. Sudden changes in tasks or project goals, though part of the dynamic nature of business, can lead to significant stress and anxiety.

Thus, it's not just about integrating neurodivergent employees into the workforce; it's about making systematic changes to the work environment to support and empower us.

10 Things We Wish You Would Consider

  1. Value Our Unique Perspectives:

    Recognize that we see the world through a different lens, which can lead to innovative and creative solutions.

  2. Facilitate Clear Communication:

    Use explicit and straightforward language in both verbal and written communications.

  3. Understand Social Interaction Difficulties:

    Recognize that social norms can be challenging for us and provide alternative ways for us to participate and contribute.

  4. Accommodate Sensory Needs:

    Be aware of and make accommodations for our sensory sensitivities.

  5. Maintain Predictable Structures:

    Help us manage anxiety by keeping a predictable work environment and routine.

  6. Emphasize Our Abilities:

    Focus on what we can do rather than what we can't. Recognize our skills and contributions.

  7. Provide Necessary Accommodations:

    Understand that accommodations are needs, not preferences.

  8. Cultivate Patience, Not Pity:

    Exercise patience and provide support without underestimating our capabilities.

  9. Promote Autonomy:

    Trust our abilities and allow us the autonomy to manage our tasks and make decisions.

  10. Recognize Neurodiversity as a Vital Aspect of Diversity:

    Treat neurodiversity as an integral part of the company's diversity and inclusion strategy.

By embracing these principles, you can unlock a treasure trove of potential that resides within your neurodivergent employees. We are not just workers; we are innovators, problem solvers, and diligent contributors who are eager to show our worth and capabilities. It's time our unique needs and extraordinary potentials are recognized and valued.

A Neurodivergent Employee