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Exploring the Unique Challenges and Complexities of Neurodiversity 

May 7, 2024

4-minute read

Reflections and insights on the complexity of neurodiversity   

In a world where diversity is celebrated, neurodiversity is a concept that is gaining increasing recognition. Just as no two neurotypical individuals are alike, the same principle applies within neurodiversity. In this blog, we delve into the intricate nature of neurodiversity, examining how its impact can vary based on an individual’s circumstances and life experiences. We give an example of this through one of the case studies that we presented during the Watercooler event and explain how Thriiver can assist employees and managers in supporting their staff through effective strategies. 

It is increasingly acknowledged that neurodiversity is a multi-faceted concept (Embracing Complexity, 2021). For instance, two people diagnosed as Autistic may meet different criteria from the DSM-5-TR, such as sensory sensitivities, communication styles, and interests. The diagnosis of Autism necessitates the presence of two or more of these criteria in any combination, resulting in ten unique combinations, without considering the distinct ways in which individuals may meet any criterion. This shows that two people with the same diagnosis might have different characteristics and experiences.  It is also very common for a person with one diagnosis to meet the criteria for one or more other diagnoses. According to scientific literature, 50 to 70% of individuals with Autism also co-occurs with ADHD.   

Neurodiversity is a term that denotes a wide range of experiences and perspectives. Just like there is immense diversity within racial, cultural, and gender identities, each neurodivergent individual has unique strengths, challenges, and ways of engaging. Another aspect of the complexity of neurodiversity is the intersectionality with other identities and experiences.  

Watercooler Case Study: Lesley 

During our workshop at the Watercooler event, we presented three case studies to illustrate different situations. One of these case studies particularly resonated with the audience: Lesley’s story (see image). Lesley is a Client Partner who was diagnosed as autistic and with co-occurring ADHD at the age of 45, around the same time her child was also diagnosed. Her health and well-being have become more challenging to manage during perimenopause, and she finds it difficult to manage her workload while supporting her child. Lesley has informed her manager about her situation but is struggling to focus and organise her time, especially after the recent recruitment of new staff which is making the office noisy. This highlights the fact that some employees may face different challenges or difficulties depending on their circumstances and role changes. 

One of the key challenges in navigating this situation is the need for personalised support and accommodations. What may work for Lesley, may not work for another employee, highlighting the importance of accommodating individual differences so that everyone can reach their full potential in the workplace. In Lesley’s case, some recommendations that we and attendees suggested were:  

  • Offering hybrid working.  
  • Provide a quiet space in the office.  
  • Establish a parent network within the organisation.  
  • Provide Manager Awareness Training tailored to Autism/ADHD and Menopause to equip managers with the confidence to initiate conversations with employees.   

How can Thriiver help?   

At Thriiver, we recognise that creating a neuro-inclusive workplace culture can be a complex journey. We understand that organisations strive to deliver measurable outcomes that genuinely benefit their employees’ well-being and support. To achieve this goal, we provide customised support services that can significantly benefit everyone. Our support services include a range of offerings that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each organisation. We believe that it’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of how various factors can influence employees and how appropriate support can be provided. Our team of experts is well-equipped to provide organisations with the knowledge and tools they need to create a more inclusive and supportive workplace.  

Employees like Lesley, who have received a late diagnosis, can face unique challenges in balancing their professional responsibilities with their personal well-being, particularly when supporting their children and dealing with the onset of perimenopause. Thriiver offers Workplace Strategy Coaching services to assist employees in managing their workload and navigating workplace challenges. Co-Coaching sessions can also be arranged for employees and managers to attend together, helping them identify and implement strategies such as hybrid working arrangements or establishing a quiet workspace in the office to minimise distractions. 

We also provide Manager Awareness Training that is tailored to an individual’s requirements, taking into account co-occurring conditions and other factors such as parenting responsibilities and potential difficulties managing the symptoms of menopause. This training will empower managers with the knowledge and confidence to effectively support their employees and foster a psychologically safe, inclusive, and equitable work culture. 

Interested in finding out more, get in touch at hello@thriiver.co.uk

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