What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity refers to the concept that certain developmental disorders are normal variations in the brain. People who have these features also have certain strengths. Neurodiversity isn’t the same thing as disability. Though, people who have neurodivergent features may need accommodations at work or school.
Neurodiversity commonly refers to people with:
Neurodiversity at School
According to Cussner, "On campus now, there’s a shift toward the term neurodiversity as opposed to the term disability." Cussler says, "There’s some value in that because we don’t just want to focus on the legal definitions of disability, but to include larger groups." "That includes people with or without a documented learning disability or difference."
Neurodiversity at Work
People with neurodivergent features may spend a lot of time trying to adjust to their work environment. They may need to manage their social impressions or find ways to block out distractions.
According to Santuzzi, this extra effort can take a toll on work performance and physical and mental health.
If you’re an employer, here are a few tips on how to adjust:
Focus on the Positive
According to Neurodiversity advocates, it is a better approach to focus on what someone is good at, not what they lack.
For example, there’s some evidence that:
People with ADHD have high levels of spontaneity, courage, and empathy. They can hyper-focus on certain tasks.
Those with autism pay attention to complex details, have good memories and show certain "specialty" skills. Experts think this can be an asset in certain jobs, such as computer programming or music. As noted by one researcher, Wolfgang Mozart had strong music memory and absolute pitch.
For more information, please see What is neurodiversity
Nash, L. (2022). There and back again: Neuro-diverse employees, liminality and negative capability. Work, Employment and Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/09500170221117420
Brinzea, V. M. (2019). Encouraging neurodiversity in the evolving workforce - The next frontier to a diverse workplace. Scientific Bulletin: Economic Sciences, 18, 13-25. http://economic.upit.ro/repec/pdf/2019_3_2.pdf
Nordfors, D., Grundwag, C., & Ferose, V. R. (2019). A new labor market for people with “coolabilities.” Communications of the ACM, 62(7), 26–28. https://doi.org/10.1145/3332809
Austin, R. D., & Pisano, G. P. (2017). Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage. Harvard Business Review, 95(3), 96–103.
Erickson, W. A., von Schrader, S., Bruyère, S. M., & VanLooy, S. A. (2014). The employment environment: Employer perspectives, policies, and practices regarding the employment of persons with disabilities. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 57(4), 195–208. https://doi.org/10.1177/0034355213509841
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Disability rights are civil rights. From voting to parking, the ADA is a law that protects people with disabilities in many areas of public life.
For more information, please see The Americans with Disability Act (ADA)