Most Autistic people alive on earth today are undiagnosed adults. ADHD is massively underdiagnosed. Bipolar or OCD or Schizophrenia are so caked with shame that people don’t often disclose these diagnoses. All of which means that any company over a certain size is filled with neurodivergent people, often suffering silently as they try to reconcile their sometimes wildly divergent needs with the day to day life of working in a business.
These are people who, given the option to go to therapy, often don’t even bother anymore. Therapy has never helped. These are people who give their all and then burnout, inexplicably moving from your best performer to the person you’re trying really hard not to put on a PIP.
How can you, as a CEO or HR rep or even just a fellow employee, help to make your workplace more ND-friendly? The first step is education. You need to have someone who can come in and explain to everyone that the baselines they often take for granted are not general, and this often works best when coming from an outside expert. You need someone who is able to recognize when your team is burning out before it happens, who can provide recommendations and strategies for avoiding that fate. You need someone who can help with difficult communications, who can facilitate conversations to get around misunderstandings, and who can support the managers of neurodivergent reports as easily as they can support those reports.
In short, the best way to support your ND staff is to normalize being neurodivergent. You do that by having an independent expert come in and establish a baseline, and then by offering unconditional support to anyone struggling with any related issues. You don’t need an Autism diagnosis to have trouble with certain kinds of communication, you don’t need to be ADHD to have executive functioning issues. Often the diagnosis is used to gatekeep what little support is available, and there are a lot of people who are “functional” enough in day to day life to convince themselves they don’t need help. These are the people who get home from work and can’t do anything else because they’re so exhausted from masking all day, and you probably don’t even realize they’re struggling.
Instead, bring me in to help everyone come together around a common understanding that yeah, actually, people are different in ways that most folks have never thought about. Let me give examples, build empathy, and provide tools and strategies that allow everyone to work together with a minimum of friction. A lot of people have recognized themselves for the first time in my talks, because I understand how to speak to the folks who are struggling in invisible ways.
My recommendation is to retain me for five sessions per month, which will include a free training for your org. I have a variety of talks and resources I can adapt,