Neurodiversity, as defined by PsychCentral, is a “nonmedical term used to describe anyone living with brain function outside of what’s typical for the majority (those known as neurotypical).” Additionally, the Neurodiversity Hub describes neurodiversity as “an approach to learning and disabilit[ies] that argues diverse neurological conditions are a result of normal variations in the human genome.”

In essence, neurodiversity refers to those whose thinking, learning, processing, and engagement styles differ from those of individuals with brains that operate in a traditional fashion.

What classifies someone as neurodivergent?

Neurodivergent individuals encompass those with mental health conditions and learning disabilities, including:

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Epilepsy
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Tourette’s syndrome

Individuals with mental health conditions and learning disabilities often face barriers in their employment journeys. Many of these roadblocks are due to discrimination. Consequently, employers risk overlooking exceptional candidates when they dismiss applications from or deny employment to neurodivergent individuals.

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The Advantages of Hiring Neurodivergent Minds

According to career experts, companies and organizations can gain a competitive edge by recruiting neurodivergent individuals and establishing programs to support their success in the workplace. Retaining neurodivergent employees should also be a priority.

In addition to bringing fresh perspectives and positive contributions to the workplace, neurodivergent individuals can help alleviate staffing shortages. They can also enrich the diversity of companies while contributing to equity and inclusion initiatives. Moreover, neurodivergent employees can enhance creativity and innovation by offering unique insights.

More and more companies have begun to seek out neurodiverse talent, and research indicates this positive trend is having a positive impact. A study published in Harvard Business Review suggested that teams with neurodivergent professionals in some roles can be 30% more productive than those without them.

Furthermore, has expressed the idea that neurodivergent employees might particularly excel in fields related to creativity, design, innovation, and technical thinking.

Neurodivergent individuals may also possess the following qualities or traits, all of which are beneficial to the workplace:

  • The ability to concentrate better over extended periods.
  • A knack for recalling detailed and factual information
  • A talent for approaching and solving problems in novel ways
  • The ability to detect errors with ease
  • The ability to excel in repetitive or routine tasks
  • Trustworthiness, persistence, and reliability

The Neurodiverse Population

A 2022 Deloitte report highlights that neurodivergent individuals frequently face higher rates of unemployment and underemployment compared to the general population. For instance, an estimated 85% of individuals with autism experience unemployment, a stark contrast to the general unemployment rate of 4.2%.

Surprisingly, the neurodivergent population is larger than one might imagine. A Forbes article reported that researchers have found that between 15% and 20% of the population consists of neurodivergent individuals.

Employer Responsibility in Embracing Neurodiversity

As an employer, you might not come across neurodiverse job candidates. However, there’s a possibility you’ll receive applications from and hold interviews with neurodivergent individuals. Hence, it’s vital to thoroughly assess the full qualities of these candidates instead of automatically ruling them out based on assumptions that they may be unqualified. You might be missing out on your next top hire!

Neurodiversity might fall under the purview of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which means that, as an employer, you might be prohibited from discriminating against neurodiverse applicants, candidates, and employees.

Currently, the ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees. However, some state and local-level disability rights laws might extend protections to neurodiverse individuals. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations that apply in your area.

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