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11 ways to help your neurodivergent team members succeed

If you manage or are part of a team, there is bound to be a neurodivergent member or two, or more! Here are over 10 tips on supporting them.

remote worker, Person using computer, laptop, phone, and headphones representing a neurodivergent worker

Neurodivergent employees: what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Maybe you’re neurodivergent yourself and don’t think too much into it. You may also not be neurodivergent and have no idea where to even start when you think of that topic. 

Something that every employer should consider, though, is that it’s very likely that a neurodivergent person works for you. If you have no idea what this term is, let me provide a brief explanation:

Neurodivergent people differ in neurological or mental function from what is usually considered “normal.” Autism, ADHD, and Tourettes are considered neurodiverse conditions, but there are a lot more than that. 

If you’re looking to offer a more inclusive work environment or simply make your diverse team feel more comfortable, here are some of the best ways to accommodate them!

1. Noise-canceling headphones 

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These devices help block outside noise to promote concentration and focus.

2. Low-stress work area 

Places with high traffic can be stressful, so letting your employee place their desk in a quiet area may seriously benefit them. 

3. Rethink harsh lighting 

You know how much it sucks to walk through Costco? People can get that feeling anywhere that harsh lighting is. It can be a huge distraction, causing overstimulation. 

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4. Red, yellow, green method 

Some folks like to use this way of accommodation to let others know where they’re at either physically or mentally. Green means people can approach, yellow means it may be a good idea to shy away, and red means the employee has stepped away to get their (ex: anxiety) under control. 

5. Mirrors 

Some don’t like people walking up behind them as it may invoke anxiety, so having a little rear-view mirror can be extremely helpful. 

6. Listen to them! 

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Maybe this is a given for you, but caring about the needs of your workers is important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get into their mind and see what they see. 

7. Record meetings 

Not everyone will retain information the first time it’s spoken, so this one can be a lifesaver.

8. Make an agenda 

Many neurodiverse people have a fear of the unknown. Lists and plans reassure that they are prepared every day. 

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9. Closed captioning 

This one is quite useful for those who may struggle with verbal communication.

10. Build a support system 

Because who doesn’t need support? Knowing you’re cared for and listened to goes a long way in the workplace. Having a system of team leaders and members that know they can count on each other can make the workplace so much more enjoyable. 

11. Provide guidance 

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Bouncing off that last one, if you’re neurodivergent yourself, you may be able to offer insight that will help your employees navigate work. Sometimes it makes all the difference for someone to hear that they aren’t alone and can seek guidance when they need it. 

Remember that your neurodivergent employees don’t want “special treatment.” They just want to feel safe and comfortable in the workplace. By implementing some of these tips and techniques, you can offer an environment that’s inclusive for the vast varieties of people that likely work for you! 

Macie LaCau is a passionate writer, herbal educator, and dog enthusiast. She spends most of her time overthinking and watering her tiny tomatoes.

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