To answer that question, you must first understand what Neurodiversity is. Neurodiversity is the natural variation in how our brains think and process information. It includes a wide range of conditions like Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Tourette’s Syndrome, etc. It also includes those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Individuals who have these conditions are referred to as Neurodivergent (ND) as opposed to the larger Neurotypical (NT) population whose brains function in a more ‘typical’ manner.

Inclusion of neurodivergent individuals or Neuroinclusivity is possible only when everyone in the organization believes in the reality of Neurodiversity. It sounds simple but isn’t quite that easy. For many organizations, Neuroinclusion is limited to hiring NDs and then training and shaping them to fit into the existing environmen5t.

Since, in general, NTs form most of the workforce, the workplace environment is geared towards supporting them. NDs, therefore, find themselves at a disadvantage when asked to adjust to an environment that does not meet their support needs. Their voices and concerns remain unheard in many cases. They also do not feel a sense of belonging in such a space. The solution is not to create programs for ‘fixing’ NDs and forcing them into a close approximation of NTs. It lies in preparing everyone – from leaders to managers to colleagues – to be neuroinclusive.

For example, if an organization hires NDs without first training the rest of the workforce to understand how Neurodiversity manifests and what the strengths and weaknesses of a wide range of NDs are, then the environment is not ready to be ND-friendly. If the managers are not convinced about why accommodations are needed or aware of the potential returns of having an inclusive team, it negatively impacts the workplace environment. If co-workers are not trained to understand what the challenges faced by ND employees are and how to be supportive, neuroinclusion cannot happen.

Merely training or coaching NDs will not make a difference. The onus cannot be put on them alone to make Neuroinclusion work. To be truly inclusive, organizations must make understanding and acceptance of Neurodiversity a part of their culture. This needs to start from the top.

Every member of the organization needs to be involved in Neuroinclusion. From awareness comes understanding, from understanding comes acceptance, and from the acceptance, comes transformation. NDs bring innovation, high levels of focus, creativity, dedication, reliability, and many other assets into the workplace. Each neurodivergent individual brings a different set of skills and talents to the workplace. They also have different accommodation and support needs. They need to be viewed for their strengths and not marginalized or segregated for their differences/weaknesses.

Organizations that are neuroinclusive are stronger and more resilient. They have a clear competitive edge and reap both financial and cultural benefits. An organization that recognizes the strength of each employee and creates an environment that allows each of them to bring their best selves to work regardless of being ND or NT is well on its way to becoming neuroinclusive. So, how neuroinclusive are you today?