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What exactly do we mean when we say neurodiversity? What conditions does it include? What are possible indicators?

If you have a colleague who explains they’re neurodivergent (or you suspect may be undiagnosed) you’ll need to know more.

With neurodiversity comes terminology unfamiliar to some. Here are the key terms you may hear and what they mean:

  • Neurodiverse – the concept that humans’ brains work in many different ways and there’s no singular ‘right’ way of thinking, learning, processing information or behaving.
  • Neurodivergent – people who have differences in their neurological development and functioning.
  • Neurotypical – someone who fits the societal ‘norm’ and has typical neurological development and functioning.

Neurodiverse conditions can include autism, ADHD, ADD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia (difficulty with reading, maths, and coordinated movements respectively) and many more.

Each condition is different and has different symptoms. Many people remain undiagnosed – it’s estimated that 700,000 people in the UK are autistic but undiagnosed. Knowing the signs of possible neurodivergence is important – watch out for (but not limited to):

  • Physical – sensory differences, repetitive behaviours, pacing, physical tics.
  • Emotional or behavioural – low attention span, intense curiosity, difficulty communicating, sensory sensitivities.
  • At work – rapid speech, impulsive actions, hyper-focus, easily distracted, difficulty dealing with change.
If you’re unsure, always seek expert medical opinion. In our next update, we’ll consider how to approach a conversation with an individual you consider may be neurodiverse and what to do then. We’ve built a ‘Neurodiversity Toolkit’ to help you and your managers support individuals at work – see what’s included. 
This update is accurate on the date it was published, but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.