As part of our Fuse programme, UP THERE, EVERYWHERE brings you the second of a series of blog’s focussed on bringing true equality to young people who may not have the option for the traditional route to a career.
In our last blog we discussed the benefits that neurodivergent people can bring to the working world, in our second in the series we explore how we could support them in the workplace.
1. Patience - Neurodivergent people may have challenges with executive function, including working memory, organisation, time management, and planning and prioritisation.
2. Processing Time - Allow space for people to process instructions. Give people the option to share thoughts and ideas after a meeting, and provide information in writing to allow for different processing needs. Fast paced meetings with people quickly sharing thoughts and ideas may not be the ideal space for all people to contribute.
3. Clarity - Avoid jargon, euphemisms, and other vague language that can be easily misunderstood. Provide explicit feedback, clear next steps, and time bound action items. Communicate directly! "I need you to get the ball rolling on that project", versus; "You need to begin this project this week and have it completed and ready to present by next Friday. The first step is for you to schedule the kick off meeting and prepare the presentation. Connect with me if you have any questions."
4. Written Instructions - Provide instructions in multiple forms, including in writing. Notes from meetings, and even recording certain meetings can also be helpful.
5. Consistency - Some neurodivergent people benefit from routine and consistency in their work and workplace, including having access to the same desk each time they work in the office, having a predictable schedule, and working on the same or similar tasks consistently.
6. Reduce Ambiguity - Similar to clarity and consistency, some neurodivergent people need as much information as possible up front in order to navigate change. Providing a detailed agenda for meetings ahead of time and laying out clear and detailed timelines for implementing new initiatives can be very helpful supports.
7. Recognise Anxiety - Anxiety is a common co-occurring condition for many neurodivergent people, and recognising and being aware of how change, unexpected events, lack of clarity, lack of/poor/indirect communication, among other things, can contribute to greater anxiety for neurodivergent people is important. Hold space for people to express concerns and challenges and provide access to mental health resources.
8. Avoid Assumptions - Ask questions! Everyone is different. Ask your colleagues how they work best, what would help them do their best work, what would improve the workplace for them.
You might be thinking, "these seem like things we should do for everyone in the workplace!"
You already work with neurodivergent people, whether you know it or not, and you already work with people who could benefit from some or all of the above.
Again, everyone is different, the best step you can take is to ask people what they need to do their best work. See how Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Programme is already doing this and showing us why some businesses are already behind.
About the authors
Christos is our Client Managing Parter in the UK as well as the Head of Client Service globally. Leahanna Tarry is his partner who is an Assistant Head Teacher specialising in supporting neurodivergent children. She launches and manages SRBs (Specialist Resource Bases) within high schools, and was recently recognised with a Teacher of the Year award and is the founder and CEO of Neurodiversity classroom. Between them they have two autistic children, Milo, 9 and Theo, 17.
Other great reading Inside Our Autistic Minds: Chris Packham’s new documentary is powerful and moving
Interested in learning more?
- If you are 16-20 and want to join FUSE, you can apply to be an associate.
- If you are an organization, brand, partner or charity that wants to get involved in supporting FUSE, please visit our site to find out more.