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Breakthrough Programs: How To Empower the Neurodiverse in Today’s Workplace

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  • Breakthrough Programs: How To Empower the Neurodiverse in Today’s Workplace

Neurodiversity is a term that describes the natural variation in how our brains work, including conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and others. About 1 in 36 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. With a full scale of symptoms and severity, you’re likely working with someone or know someone with a diagnosis.

As the PEAK6 DEI council continues to explore Autism Acceptance Month, we’re looking at how people who are neurodiverse can bring unique strengths and perspectives to the workplace and how to address the challenges in navigating the demands of traditional work environments. And for caregivers, we’re discovering and learning how to access resources that increase our understanding. Fortunately, a growing number of support tools and resources are available to help neurodiverse individuals thrive in the workforce. Here are four such tools:

Advice on Communicating With Autistic People
Shot of two neurodiverse coworkers having a discussion over a laptop.

As with neurotypical folks, creating effective communication takes work and knowledge on both sides. The National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom recommends avoiding the use of irony, sarcasm, rhetorical questions, or exaggeration — neurodiverse coworkers can take these literally. If you use these, explain what you have said and be clear about what you mean to say. Communication is easier than you think with these valuable tips.

Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

JAN is a free service provided by the U.S. Department of Labor that offers resources and guidance on workplace accommodations for people with disabilities, including neurodiverse individuals. The service offers one-on-one consultation with a job accommodation specialist who can help identify and implement reasonable accommodations to make work tasks more manageable and reduce workplace stress. JAN also provides a database of accommodation ideas and case studies to help employers and employees find practical solutions.

Focus@Will

Focus@Will is a music streaming service offering curated playlists to improve focus and productivity. The service uses neuroscience research to tailor music selections to each individual’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses, which can be particularly beneficial for people with ADHD or autism. The music is designed to help individuals tune out distractions and stay on task without being overly stimulating or distracting. The service offers a free trial period and offers subscription plans for both individuals and organizations.

Podcasts
Young, Black, neurodiverse female working on her laptop while listening to music in her headphones.

Are you interested in learning more about autism? Do it with a podcast! This list of podcasts from Autism Spectrum Therapies will help you gain valuable insights and information about a complex neurological condition. Plus, with the convenience of listening anywhere, anytime, you can learn about autism while doing your laundry or cooking dinner. Sit back, relax, and get ready to soak up all the details about neurodiversity from the comfort of your headphones. 

These are just a few tools and resources available to support neurodiverse individuals in the workforce. With the right accommodations and support, individuals with diverse minds can contribute their unique strengths and perspectives to the workplace, benefitting both themselves and their employers.

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