What are Neurodevelopmental Disorders?

Written by CWD Editor
Last updated Tuesday May 3 2022

Neurodevelopmental disorders are a group of disorders resulting from disturb to the development of the central nervous system. Developmental brain dysfunction can present neuropsychiatric or motor function problems, including learning, speech and language difficulties.

The neurodevelopmental disorders currently considered and recognised are:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Communication, speech, or language disorders
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Motor disorders
  • Neurogenic disorders
  • Specific learning disorders
  • Traumatic brain injury

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain can work and interpret information. It highlights that people naturally think and reason differently. The different interests and motivations people have can establish the things they are better at or might find difficult.

Research from ACAS shows that around 1 in 7 people in the United Kingdom are neurodivergent. As a result, the brain functions, learns and processes information differently.

Why Should Employers Support Neurodiversity in the Workplace?

Improving Inclusivity in the Workplace

Despite many employers already striving to make their workplace more inclusive, there is still a misunderstanding around neurodiversity and how to support it. Here is a list of the reasons why employers should make their staff feel valued and included:

  • Promoting the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Making staff feel confident to disclose a neurodevelopmental disorder
  • Creating a culture of inclusion and respect amongst the staff team
  • Reducing recruitment costs and turnover
  • Reducing the stigma around neurodiversity
  • Making employment accessible to a wider range of talent

Complying with Legal Requirements

Neurodivergent individuals are protected by the Equality Act 2010. As a result, businesses and organisations must make reasonable adjustments to the environment, their policies and procedures and the individual’s job role to minimise any disadvantage to them. For instance, here are some examples of what employers can do to support neurodivergent staff:

  • Allowing staff to take short breaks throughout the working day. You could negotiate to allow for 15-minute breaks during the working day and slightly extend an individual’s working hours
  • Accommodating for a quiet area for staff to work undisturbed when particular tasks require concentration.
  • Addressing any sensory issues. For instance, open-plan offices might be too bright or noisy and using desk dividers can be a great solution.
  • Considering remote work for staff to reduce their distraction, stress and fatigue.

Improve Well-Being Across the Organisation

Understanding neurodiversity in the workplace is essential to promote staff’s health, safety and well-being. Keeping your staff healthy makes them motivated and more likely to perform their duties well. Here are a few tips to make your workplace more accommodating and supportive for your team:

  • Using a “do not disturb” sign or function on your telephone and email, especially during work that requires high levels of concentration.
  • Assigning one job at a time, rather than encouraging multi-tasking.
  • Communicating both verbally and in written form with your staff.
  • Displaying operating instructions near office equipment, such as printers and scanners.

Making Staff Feel Safe to Disclose and Seek Support

Some neurodivergent employees might not feel confident or safe to disclose their condition to their employers. They might try to hide it instead of asking for reasonable adjustments. It is essential for organisations to show their dedication to equality and diversity. Employers can promote their commitment to inclusivity in many ways:

For further information on how to make your workplace more disability-friendly, you can visit the dedicated Disability Advice Hub on our website, and our disabled jobs board for opportunities with inclusive employers in the UK.

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Last Updated: Tuesday May 3 2022

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