Accommodations and Reasonable Adjustments for Neurodivergence – Creating an Inclusive Workplace

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As a neurodivergent person, do you find work particularly stressful or draining? Maybe you’re having to mask all day or it feels like you’re working 10 times harder than everyone else just to keep afloat? There are things that can help you in your workplace and reasonable adjustments or accommodations can come in many forms.

Maybe you’re an employer who wants to create an inclusive workplace and you need some ideas about where to start? In this article I’ll explore some practical accommodations and adjustments for neurodivergent people in a workplace.


Reasonable Adjustments Infographic by Amy Peters

In the workplace it’s crucial that employers and managers foster an inclusive environment that accommodates the individual’s needs. As neurodivergence (Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia etc) is often misunderstood and largely invisible, neurodivergent (ND) people at work are frequently overlooked. Sadly the stigma and discrimination around neurodivergence means many people are going unsupported which often leads to burnout and, ultimately, many have to leave their jobs.

By implementing reasonable adjustments organisations can ensure that neurodivergent employees can thrive and contribute to their full potential. Organisations have a duty to support their employees and details on UK requirement around reasonable adjustments can be found here. This also links to Access to Work which offers part funding for such reasonable adjustments if you are eligible.

So what are examples of reasonable adjustments or accommodations for neurodivergence?

Technology

Laptop and monitor screens

Technology plays a significant role in enabling neurodivergent individuals to excel at work. By providing appropriate software tools for things such as dictation, task management, prioritisatising of tasks, speech to text, employers can support individuals with dyslexia, auditory processing difficulties, or other neurodivergence with. In addition there are now many apps and software programs which are designed to help ND people with their focus, attention and organisation.

For those not working in office environments, any technology platforms that are used should be accessible. This may include compatibility with assistive technologies, adjustable font sizes, or alternative formats for documents and materials.

Communication and Meetings

Birds Eye view of a meeting with people sat at large desk all with laptops out

Meetings can be overwhelming for ND individuals, especially if they struggle with information processing, masking or social norms around meetings. It’s essential therefore to provide clear meeting agendas and distribute supporting materials in advance to allow time for processing. Additionally, allowing extra time for questions and providing minutes after the meeting can help.

Accommodating different communication styles but offering a variety of ways to keep in touch can be helpful particularly when working remotely. Closed captions or transcripts in online meetings ensure that everyone can follow the conversation and actively participate.

ND individuals may also benefit from fidget aids during meetings or periods of intense concentration. Items like stress balls, fidget spinners, or sensory-friendly objects can help to maintain focus and engagement.

Deadlines and Flexibility

Man trying to catch falling boxes which say stress, work, problems, anxiety on them

Deadlines can often be stressful for ND people, whether it’s because someone needs a deadline to help motivate them so do things at the last minute, or because the deadline itself causes anxiety. It’s important therefore to have clear communication around deadlines, making them flexible where this is helpful. Or creating shorter internal deadlines for a longer term project. Managers should set up regular 1-1 meetings and provide support with prioritising or breaking down tasks if needed.

Regular check ins are just as important if you’re working remotely or out in the community. Many neurodivergent people enjoy the flexibility and autonomy that working remotely brings but it can also cause anxiety if you aren’t able to ask questions or have someone to talk to for reassurance.

Flexible working is helpful to many of us in the workplace. Having a flexible work day can help ND people manage their fatigue and fluctuating motivation along with their caring responsibilities.

Physical Workspace

Image of
A desk set up with Pc, lamp, keyboard and plants around. It

Creating a comfortable physical workspace is crucial for all employees, and for ND people, they may have co occurring conditions such as hyper mobility, GI issues or other chronic pain.

Offering sit-stand desks allows for flexibility and movement, promoting better focus and reducing discomfort and pain. Additionally, ergonomic chairs and adjustable furniture can enhance posture, alleviate sensory sensitivities, and improve overall well-being. Providing dedicated work areas instead of hot-desking helps create a stable and predictable environment, which benefits those who thrive with consistency and familiarity.

Sensory Considerations

Teal background, hand holding one finger out dangling a pair of headphones

Sensory factors can significantly impact neurodivergent people. Designated quiet areas or low-stimulus zones can provide a space for decompression or recharging when things feel overwhelming.

For those sensitive to sound, noise-cancelling headphones offer control over their auditory environment, reducing distractions and creating a calmer atmosphere. Adjustable lighting options, such as dimmable lights or individual task lighting, allow individuals to tailor the visual environment to their needs. Using sunglasses or a cap indoors can also help with this.

Training

Person pointing to
Flip chart

Finally, coaching or counselling for ADHD or Autism can be incredibly helpful to help you understand yourself.

And let’s not forget that training on neurodivergence for the whole workforce is crucial so that ND employees feel supported and valued. Ensure this is facilitated by a neurodivergent trainer.

Most of these adjustments above will be helpful to a large proportion of the workforce. Embracing inclusivity benefits not only the employees but also fosters a culture of acceptance and diversity that can benefit the entire organisation.


Amy is a counsellor specialising in neurodivergence and the founder of Newglade Counselling. She has created a team of neurodivergent counsellors who work online and face to face around Canterbury, Kent. Amy is the creator of the popular Neuro Cards and other therapy resources. Amy also provides parent support sessions, clinical supervision and delivers training in therapy and neurodivergence. For more information about our services contact us here.

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