Disability Accommodations for Neurodiversity

In this week’s episode of #TheEmployables we see the story of Ariel and Hayden, two amazing individuals with talent and insight.

Lots of employers will watch tonight and feel inspired and motivated to open the doors to neurodiversity and this is why I worked so hard on making the show!

One of the best moments in the show is when Ariel is having trouble with the noise levels and finds a practical way round it.

And THE stand out best moment in the show is her boss just asking her “how can we help?”

Sometimes accommodation isn’t about getting in fancy specialists or being an expert in a condition it’s just human to human – “how can I help you work a your best?”

That said, here’s some pointers on how to make it work in practice.

Organizational accommodations are things you can do to the way your company runs that make it easier for neurodifferent people to work at their best.

1.Schedule flexibility

Flextime is a massive bonus for neurodiversity.  Firstly, insomnia is known to be exacerbated by autism, Tourettes, ADHD, dyslexia and more.  Sticking to a rigid schedule means that we are less likely to be able to flex around our natural peaks and troughs.  In my company, people are not managed by input, but by output.  Secondly, many conditions create states of ‘hyperfocus’ and ‘distractibility’.  When we are in hyperfocus, we are highly productive and stick with a task until finished, when distractable we need to rest and let information flow in, not out.  Being able to overwork some days and underwork others makes all the difference. Trust us!

2. Environmental flexibility

Open plan offices! The sensory sensitivity that comes with neurodiversity is a massive advantage in picking up details and being hyper-vigilant.  Great if you are a soldier, a paramedic, a policeman, but neurodiversity sucks in an open plan office.  These can be buffered with flex time, noise cancelling headphones, working from home days, booking out private meeting rooms for concentration based work.

3. Communication flexibility 

I have a colleague with episodic anxiety.  She was once very agitated and it took me a couple of hours to talk something through so that we both understood the cause of the misunderstanding. At the end I considered my use of time.  Would I even bat an eyelid at spending a couple of hours working out access arrangements for a wheelchair user?  No.  And this is the investment that neurodifferent colleagues sometimes need, our time.  Many neurodifferent people find instructions unclear and can make multiple interpretations of what seems clear to others.  We have to take time to explain and clarify.  Once this is done we gain loyalty, engagement, respect.

4.Training and induction accommodations

We’re nervous!  And it makes us socially awkward and more likely to tic and say odd things at the start.  The more reassurance we can have during induction and in training the better.  I promise it pays dividends.

If you’d like to know more about making your organization more inclusive, please have a look at our consulting offer or email info@geniuswithin.org

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