Neurodiversity - Everything you need to know

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Health Assured team

18 June 2019

It’s estimated that roughly 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent, meaning their brain functions, learns and processes information differently than others.


What is neurodiversity?

The word ‘neurodiversity’ was created as a term to describe a new movement towards neurological diversity being accepted and respected in society. Neurodivergence includes those who live with Dyslexia, Autism, ADHD, Dyspraxia and other neurological conditions.


According to the neurodiversity movement, these conditions should be accepted, respected and recognised as a social category alongside any other human variation i.e. ethnicity or gender.


Neurodiversity is often considered as a social justice movement that focuses on celebrating neurodiversity along with biodiversity and cultural diversity. People have often seen these as medical disorders and focused on how to “cure” these issues. The movement therefore asks people not to consider these conditions as disabilities but rather, as a variation of the human mind. In addition to this, it is believed that therapies and medication to either change or monitor an individual’s behaviour are unnecessary and unethical.



The idea of neurodiversity was first established in the 1990’s by an Australian sociologist, Judy Singer. Judy herself was recognised on the autism spectrum and she created the term ‘neurodiversity’ in the hope that these differences would no longer be seen as a defect or a disorder, but just different. It was soon recognised that there was an issue with how people facing these differences were treated.


Neurodiversity in the workplace

Neurodiversity has been recognised within the context of employment and the workplace. Many neurological conditions are protected by the Equality Act 2010. This Act protects individuals against disability discrimination for issues often referred to as ‘hidden disabilities’. A disability is defined under the Act as “any physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative affect on your ability to do normal daily activities”. This ensures those with certain characteristics are treated equally, with the same rights, status and opportunities in society.


Every condition covered under the term neurodiversity has its own set of challenges, these can include but are not limited to; difficulty concentrating, excess stress, issues with time keeping or maintaining a schedule and physical illness.


In the workplace, some may thrive in a working environment and build a resilience towards the difficulties they face, whereas others may struggle completing certain tasks because of their condition. In these instances, disclosing these challenges to an employer can allow them to support an individual in the workplace.


How can I help?

Those with neurological differences often suffer from mental health issues, including depression and stress and can often be victims of bullying. To prevent this from happening in your workplace, ensure that you contribute towards building an accepting and nurturing working environment. This can be achieved by taking part in various awareness day activities, or by simply leading by example and demonstrating an attitude of respect and equality.


The future of neurodiversity

The National Autistic Society’s Autism Employment Gap Report (2016) found that just 16% of adults on the autistic spectrum are in full time work and 77% of those unemployed want to work.


Interest in the relatively new concept of neurodiversity has positively created a greater level of social awareness of the strengths and challenges those with neurological differences face. Developments in the workplace are apparent, creating a more diverse and equal workforce. However, there is still room for increased understanding, awareness and embracement of neurodiversity within our society.



If you want to know more about neurodiversity, or if you have any wellbeing concerns, please call our free, 24-hour helpline on:

0800 030 5182

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