In Celebration of Neurodiversity Week – 21st -27th March, 2022

It’s Neurodiversity Celebration Week (21st – 27th March) and new research by Bupa UK has revealed a greater need for neurodiversity awareness in the workplace after more people turned to Google for support in the last 12 months:

The research revealed that;

  • 120% increase in Google searches for ‘neurodiversity at work.
  • 91% increase in Google searches for ‘ADHD workplace’
  • 86% increase in Google searches for ‘autism workplace’
  • 53% increase in Google searches for ‘working with ADHD’
  • 22% increase in Google searches for ‘dyslexia at work’
Naomi Humber

In addition, Bupa’s Head of Mental Wellbeing, Naomi Humber, has exposed the biggest neurodiversity misconceptions in the workplace. She explains that;

  •  Neurodiversity only includes autism
  • Neurodiverse individuals are similar
  • Neurodiverse employees are unable to succeed in the workplace
  • Neurodiversity is a mental health condition
  • Only males are affected by neurodiversity

How to support neurodiverse employees in the workplace:

  1.       Get to know the individual

Try to get to know more about your team member’s neurodivergence, so you understand how you can best support their unique strengths and challenges. A personalised plan of action led by the neurodiverse individual can help them to feel supported in the workplace. Don’t work off stereotypes or make any assumptions – always ask how you can best support each neurodiverse individual.

  1.       Provide supportive technology and equipment

Supportive equipment can help some neurodivergent employees carry out their role. For example, some individuals with dyslexia might struggle with reading and writing, and those with ADHD may struggle to prioritise and plan their day.

Examples of assistive technology are:

  • speech-to-text, text-to-speech or mind-mapping software
  • dictation tools
  • a digital recorder
  • a daily planner
  1.       Be adaptable

A workplace that adapts to support its employees’ needs promotes productivity, wellbeing and job satisfaction. When assigning tasks or roles to your team members, try to consider the tasks that will support their strengths.

Some neurodivergent employees may communicate differently to neurotypical people. For example, individuals with autism may not find it easy to read facial expressions or tone of voice. Try to communicate clearly and use direct language. Providing communication documents in a range of formats can also help neurodivergent team members to feel supported.

  1.       Consider the working environment

Many aspects of a typical working environments can cause challenges or barriers for neurodiverse employees. For example, bright lights and noisy open-plan offices can be challenging for those with sensitivity to sensory surroundings.

Whether your team are working remotely or from home, make sure they have access to the right equipment and working environments that support their individual needs. Examples of equipment that can help to support neurodiverse working environments include:

  • desk lamps
  • quiet zones or areas
  • clear instructions near any office equipment
  • stationery such as sticky notes, pens and highlighters to help with memory and organisation
  1.       Promote an inclusive workplace

Encouraging awareness of neurodiversity can help to educate everyone in your organisation about the barriers neurodiverse employees face daily at work. Raising awareness also helps celebrate the unique strengths they bring to a team. Education can also lead to greater equality and a more inclusive workplace.

Having a neurodiversity policy can also help to establish a framework for managers and employees to follow, reducing the risk of discrimination in the workplace.

If you’re a manager, there are lots of resources available to help you to support neurodiverse employees, break down any stigmas and create an inclusive workplace. Such as, our manager’s guide to neurodiversity (PDF, 0.3MB) and toolkits.

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