resources and guidance to understand the problem, and fix it!
What is neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one "right" way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.
The word neurodiversity refers to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities.
~ Harvard Health
what does being "neurodivergent" mean
A relatively new term, neurodivergent simply means someone who thinks differently from the way the majority (referred to as neurotypical) expect.
Neurotypical means the opposite –someone whose brain behaves in the same way as the majority of society.
Neurological differences are to be respected.
neurodivergent discrimination in the workplace
Without an understanding of neurodiversity, many employees think of their neurodivergent coworkers as peculiar and strange. Most often, people think that these coworkers have mental health issues (GMB union, 2018). This misconception can lead to conflict which can then lead to misguided solutions that do nothing to foster a productive working environment.
Given the challenges and social stigma they experience growing up, it can be difficult for neurodivergent adults to become adept in social skills in the workplace. This is why employers must make the effort to create a harmonious, safe, and ultimately more productive workplace environment by fostering a culture that supports neurodiversity.
Instead of focusing on what appears to be a social deficit, focus on individual employee strengths and talents.
~ Susan A. Fitzell
Visit this site to learn how to make work a better place
neurodivergent bullying in schools
Children with ADHD, ASD and other related developmental and social differences are at significantly higher risk of experiencing bullying than their neurotypical peers.
While much research is focused on bullying in schools, bullying can occur in any setting and patterns of bullying often carry over into adulthood.
Suicide rates among minors have not declined in the past decade and take lives of children and young adults on schools every day.
Bullying experience during young years can cause shaming or traumatic experiences which then bear long-term consequences on confidence and self-esteem.
~ The Foundation for Neurodiversity
Visit this site to find ways to make school a more inclusive place
What can I do as an educator?
1. Accommodate sensory sensitivities. Neurodivergent folks may be sensitive to environmental conditions such as loud sounds. As an advocate, you could help by providing sensory accommodations. For example, noise-cancelling headphones can reduce loud noises and interruptions, helping neurodiverse individuals work more effectively.
2. Use education programs and learning tools. These tools allow all students/employees with different needs and requirements to feel more supported, which increases productivity and morale. For example, learning buddies can assist new students with challenging tasks, stress management, and adopting strategies for success.
3. Just ask! Neurodivergent folks often struggle with asking for assistance and may feel stigmatized, so try to provide a safe place for them to reach out!
You can use the following phrase to invite people to events:
“Our events are inclusive and accessible to all, including those with disabilities. If you need accommodations or have accessibility questions, please contact (name, email, phone)."
what can I do as an employer?
1. Get buy-in from all levels
It’s important that these conversations are open and transparent. It needs to be a safe space for both neurotypical employees to ask questions and for neurodiverse employees to come forward and disclose.
2. Engage with the local community
Community groups can help employers find and attract neurodiverse talent. These groups may take the form of government agencies, non-profits, vocational rehab centres, educational institutions, or offices for disabilities.
3. Adjust your hiring practices
Hiring managers need to reframe their idea of what makes a “good candidate.” Many superficial norms, such as a strong handshake or looking someone in the eye, are difficult for neurodiverse individuals to perform.
4. Be patient
Building a neurodiverse candidate pool takes time. EY uses a two-week process that is focused on hiring people as team members rather than as individuals.
5. Organize expert-driven, two-way training
Soft skill training is a critical part of building a neurodiverse workforce and should be done by an expert with the appropriate experience – something you can also look to the local community for.
6. Be ready and willing to accommodate
Individuals with autism may be sensitive to things like temperature, sound, and lighting. As such, you may need to provide accommodations such as noise-canceling headphones, privacy rooms, or flexible work schedules, so employees can be their most productive.
7. Amplify the message
Individuals on the spectrum have often had negative experiences in the world. So, while they may feel understood at work, they may not feel as safe outside of the office.
~ Claire Hastwell
What can I do as a regular person?
1) Offer Multiple Means for Engagement
This may mean providing videos with captions, providing written summaries of lessons with action points, providing more hands-on learning exercises, etc.
2) Create a Judgement-Free Zone
Neurodivergent students tend to mask their natural behaviors from their neurotypical peers to fit in and avoid bullying. Encourage students to stay true to themselves by creating an environment where they feel welcomed and accepted as they are.
3) Presume Competence
Just because students may have trouble communicating, does not mean they lack competence. One has nothing to lose by treating another person with respect.
4) Celebrate Strengths
Just like any neurotypical person, neurodivergent people have both strengths and challenges. Some of our greatest thinkers are neurodivergent, including Henry Ford, Helen Keller, and Thomas Edison to name a few! Neurodivergent people know how to think outside the box, which can make them an asset in any field Encourage your neurodivergent learners by celebrating the many ways neurodivergent thinkers have positively impacted our world.
5) Incorporate Interests
If you notice one of your learners is fascinated by birds, you might incorporate the topic of birds into a math problem or writing exercise.
And of course, educate yourself and make the world a better place for neurodivergent individuals!!